The First Time

I have noticed that sometimes actors have their best performances during the first cold reading of the part.  That may be during the audition itself or when the cast first gets together to read the play in its entirety.  In other words, early days.  So why is it downhill from there?  Of course, the hill need not be steep and there are many, many truly impressive performances even after the umpteenth show, but surely, in general, one would expect to see a marked improvement with all those rehearsals, the studying of the part, the immersing in the character, the adoptions of accents, limps, character specific hand gestures, and so on.  And maybe it does get better.  Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I’m the one whose views are overly influenced by the excitement of having actors say out loud words that before existed only on paper.  But I’m not convinced.  Not in all cases at any rate.  I think part of it is that actors, like most of us but even more so, are capable of being moved by words, and when they first read certain words that speak to them as a character that emotion is genuine and, so, manifest.  The second or third or five hundredth time they perform those same words, well that’s just acting.

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