Arthur Meiselman

September 2005

Actors and Intelligent Design

No scientist to date has ever proved that the species Actorus Necessarus exists or has ever existed. There is no fossil record and Charles Darwin blatantly ignored the rumor and myth of this lost mammalian link in favor of a Caribbean butterfly, Mariposa Emotionala. So without the revelatory light of evolution, it is left to Intelligent Design to take Actorus to its bosom. Rightfully so. The evolution-by-faith answer of Intelligent Design to what was and what will be traces its record to Noah's Ark. Without question, Actorus was there on that craft of survival, as a pair of, I suppose, Actori − sexual orientation indeterminate. What would we do without Intelligent Design, and alcohol and cheap marijuana?

It has been nearly 3000 years, long after Noah, since a Greek mutation appeared and declared himself (itself) to be a member of the species, to be… an Actor. And in the modern timeline, it has been over 100 years since Konstantin Stanislavski turned his penetrating mind's light on a prime specimen of the species, Feyodor Chaliapin, and poignantly asked: "How do you do it?" To which he received the equally poignant answer: "I have no idea!" From that eruptive, thoroughly disruptive event the species multiplied and became fruitful and went forth and multiplied. Actors begat actors and actors begat directors and directors begat actors and actors begat acting teachers and acting teachers begat actors cascading toward the great Rapture. The holy books of Christianity and Judaism and Islam will soon have to be rewritten. The fishes in the sea, the birds in the air, the animals on the land, man (and woman of course!) and… actors, all god's creatures, big and small.

It is this latest intelligent phenomenon of the cascading Design that is most odd and worthy of being called an anomaly: acting teachers begetting actors. It would be like thumbs begetting index fingers, which, incidentally, recent research revealed that very possibility, parallel to stem cell activity. (But the Design doesn't tolerate stem cells fooling around like that; it just approves of 'begetting around'.) Acting teachers creating actors. By the 21st century, this anomaly has become big business, providing many jobs, a vast amount of discourse, and an even vaster amount of social intercourse… among other kinds. The Design dictates that the begetter (acting teacher) completely shield the begotten (the actor) from the metaphysical and somewhat alchemical question: Can acting be taught? This incidence of truth-by-avoidance is a boomerang (q.v. Australian jazz) from a law laid down by a master theatre critic of the 19th century, Nobel-awarded playwright of the 20th century, and Fabian-Socialist-bon vivant, George Bernard Shaw, who said, in a begetting sort of way: "Those who can, act and those who can't, teach." That is the burden of the dark side of the bosom of the Design that harbors the mystery of the Actorus species. And acting teachers are burdened, beyond the reach of modern medicine's burden-lifting potions. They can only beget, oh, and pray.

Hundreds of thousands nay millions of people have and do take acting classes. Do they have good experiences that enhance their awareness, their sensitivity, their appreciation of cultural finery? Of course! Does it teach them how to act? Of course, not! And that fingers a shadow in the dark bosom-mystery – the actor who has never known an acting teacher – an immaculately self-begotten creature who breathes the sulfur-laden fire called, Talent. Without question, a mirror image of the 'original sin'.

This is not to dismiss a vital nutrition for the rise and growth of the actor: the shaping of the instrument – the voice, the body, the craft skills, the awareness of language. Without it, you have a mutant mess such as what was seen in a recent piece of swamp-art by the pop-up image creator, Baz Luhrmann. Unwilling, unfit or unable to don the master's coat, he took only the words and none of the music and injected them into a throbbing fantasy-sans-fantasy which he begat as Romeo and Juliet. Here are some actors with the fire of talent who could move and speak and deliver the language; most were hopeless and hopelessly ugly. In the Intelligent Design, ugliness is not next to holiness, and it knows what holiness is next to… or does it?

Is there still time for another begetting? Or is the Rapture upon us? Broadway and Hollywood think not. What, then, is the new? Perhaps it is the digital actor (Shrek comes to mind). All 1's and 0's, pure, uncomplicated, and not burdened by Workman's Compensation or Health Insurance. And if there's time, who will they beget? Perhaps the proton actor, pure light, streaming out into the galaxy and beyond like fairies, whispering to any audience they can find: "Phone Home!"

Will there still be acting teachers? Is there still death and taxes?   

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©2005 Arthur Meiselman
©2005 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Arthur Meiselman is a writer, and the zingaro editor of Scene4.
He's also the director of the Talos Ensemble.

For more of his commentary and articles check the Archives



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