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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 20 | volume IV | April-May, 2001



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 20April-May, 2001
Theatre Theory

Regarding a Life in the Theater

p. 1
David Mamet

    Thorstein Veblen wrote that typesetters were given to alcoholism in the 1800s because they belonged to a profession which was mobile and unstable.
    They would switch jobs often, as the need for their services arose in some other town or part of the country; and they could switch jobs often, as their skill was much in demand, and their equipment was their talent only.
    They had no investment in machinery, stock, or goodwill, and moved as the need for employment or change arose.
    In a new locale the typesetters would seek out their own kind. After a day of work they would congregate in pubs or restaurants near work and socialize.
    The only means they had for displaying their worth to each other were social means: conviviality, liberality, wit, good nature.
    So they drank and talked, and the excellent man was one who could drink much, buy many rounds, and talk interestingly of the exploits of himself and others in the confraternity. The typesetter had no goods. He could not display excellence through the splendor of his carriage or his home.
    He had no history except that which he invented for himself and could substantiate through bluff or humor.
    He traveled light and carried few clothes, and so could not impress others by his wardrobe.
    He could only establish his excellence through his social habits.
    So he drank a lot.
    Excellence in the theater is the art of giving things away.
    The excellent actor strives not to fix, to codify, but to create for the moment, freely, without pausing either to corroborate what he or she has done or to appreciate the creation.(This is why theatrical still photographs are many times stiff and uninteresting – the player in them is not acting, which is what he or she is trained and, perhaps, born to do, but posing — indicating feelings — which is the opposite of acting.)
    A life in the theater is a life spent giving things away.
    It is a life mobile, unstable, unsure of employment, of acceptance.
    The future of the actor is made uncertain not only by chance, but by necessity – intentionally.
Our problems – like the problems of any professional group – are unique.
    Our theatrical drolleries, necessities, and peculiarities may be diverting to others, but they are fascinating to ourselves.
    The question of who did what to whom, who forgot his lines, what the producer said to the propman, who got and lost what part to whom and why

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