"Are you all right?"
"I'm nauseous, I want to throw up. My legs are buckling. It happens every night... but once I'm on stage it's gone."
"That's the curse of many actors even the great ones."
"Why doesn't this ever happen to me in film, in front of the camera? Only on stage."
"Because you have two spaces to contend with – the inner space where you the actor lives, and the outer space where you the performer lives. In a film, which is not an actor's medium, you're performing for camera, crew and director. Which means you're not performing at all. Your audience will see you but not in real time."
"If they could see me now, in this damn backstage 'real time..."
"They never do. On stage, you bring your inner space to the wings and wait to cross over into your outer space. Once on stage, in real time, there's only you and your audience, no director, no playwright, no designer, no crew... just you and your audience. You perform. That crossover is like pushing through a thin, clear suffocating blanket. Once through, you're free. It's the anticipation of that breakthrough that causes the fear."
"The fear? The fear! That's what I live on. I drink it, I gorge on it."
"The trick is to learn how to harness it. Acting on stage belongs to you. Acting on camera is an invasion of your privacy. That's why there are so few good film actors–only their 'avatars' are needed."
"Thanks for the acting lesson. There's my cue. One last sip. Here, hold my harness."
From a conversation two weeks into a production of
Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie