I was at rehearsals again Thursday night, having had to miss Wednesday night rehearsal for the pastoral team meeting for Reconciler. One of the actors who is playing one of the main characters was unable to make it as he was still recovering from eye surgery, so we needed to have someone stand in for him for the rehearsal. Steve asked me if I would do it, and I said yes. It seemed like a simple enough task, the character, Waren, is a quiet sort, so how difficult could it be?
It was an amazing experience and let me say I have a new appreciation for actors and their work. Not that I did not have an appreciation, but there are things one can only know through experience even if it is a limited one.
At first I felt a bit like an interloper in territory that I as writer should not have ventured. This feeling was heightened by the fact that I simply had not read the screenplay with an eye towards how Waren would be embodied. So, while of course the other four actors had already begun to do this I , with script in hand, attempted to portray the character and enter into the world I had helped create. This was that territory of the actor, entering the world a writer has created and giving it life letting that world live.
What astounded me was that I experienced the world I had created from the inside, and from the POV of one of my characters. It didn't take long for the story and the scenes we were rehearsing to overtake me, and to be oblivious to the cameras and mics, and that we didn't have all the props and that we were rehearsing in Steve's dining room, all the while also cognizant that we were just rehearsing. There was this dual consciousness: aware of reading a script of acting out what was on paper and of being immersed in a world and in a character. after a few takes of each scene I usually found myself overtaken by the emotions of the scene, and the character, found myself without necessarily willing it having certain emotions, emotions and responces that were not mine.
All that is not to say that I showed any great acting skill, but just that I experienced a little bit of the work of an actor and found it quit astounding. I very much enjoyed rehearsing with our actors and found it very rewarding working with them in this way. Steve even directed me like I was the actor who would be playing Waren.
I still can't get over the degree to which as we acted out the scenes how everything melted away and we were in fact in this world each time we rehearsed the scene. It was for me an astounding and very enjoyable experience and I was exhausted after the evening, but it was well worth it.