James Franco Pens Eloquent Essay About Broadway OF MICE & MEN Experience
Hollywood superstar and Broadway neophyte James Franco opens up about his experiences thus far performing on the Great White Way in the new production of John Steinbeck's seminal tale OF MICE AND MEN, now in previews, eloquently comparing the art of acting on stage to that of film acting and much more.
Franco initially shares, "So you want to know what it's like to put up a play on Broadway? I'll tell ya. But, I should note, the way a classic play is put on (specifically John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, in which I am currently starring) is much different from the way a new one is produced."
Additionally, Franco writes, "People who don't really understand acting might think that the biggest challenge when performing in a play is learning the lines. Although a solid grasp of the lines will help free the performer to deal with his circumstances and movement on stage, learning lines is also just part of the deal, like a musician in an orchestra learns sheet music. But the learning of the lines of a classic play-verbatim, as if the lines were holy-makes an actor approach a role in a completely different way from how he or she might tackle it otherwise. If a line doesn't make sense, or it sounds awkward coming out of your mouth, you can't change it. You need to find some way of making sense of it. (And if you really can't do that, just fake it and say it with conviction.)"
Furthermore, Franco reveals, "Before doing Of Mice and Men, I hadn't realized the importance of these previews. They are like test screenings for movies, except there's a paying audience. But hell, it makes sense, because even in a preview the performers are live, and that is one of the main things about the theater, as Walter Benjamin pointed out in the 1930s: As opposed to the performer on film, the live performer has an "aura." So, almost regardless of the quality of the performance, there is already something about having the performers in front of an audience that distinguishes it from filmed performance. Ostensibly previews aren't judged, even though in this era of instant gratification and social media the word gets out pretty damn fast. Thank goodness we've had standing ovations since our first preview."
Check out the original article on the matter here.