ATYA: Chapter 4 – Attention

Nothing curdles the muscles faster than unwanted attention. And nothing flushes the face faster than attention wanted but not given. I know as an actor that I feel simultaneously furious and ashamed when a director leading a rehearsal is clearly paying no attention to it. Bogart unapologetically exposes the delicate nature of attention received and given. I interpret her ingredients for a director’s healthy attention as a cocktail made from expectation, shifts from active to passive gaze, a splash of care, and a dash of challenge.

Expectation: There has to be present expectation so the actors can be witnessed. If there are no/low expectations, then the performative energy can rebound off of nothing and then will sputter out and die.

Shifting gaze: Shifting from active to passive gaze can allow for attention to detail while recognizing and maintaining the broader meaning that the actors must deliver to their audience.

Care: Actors have to feel supported lest they forget/doubt what the director needs from them.

Challenge: Director’s attention has to contain a subtle hint of challenge to just shift the rehearsal into the uncomfortable. A special kind of angry desperation born from challenge creates the greatest artistic choices.

I also really enjoyed what Bogart said about the witness. The audience is just as active as the actors are. There are clear observable effects of an active audience. Look at the Houston Rocket’s performance at Home as compared to Away. An actor’s performance palpably shifts when he/she can feel the audience’s electrified attention.



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