Quick Change Artists

I mentioned in my last post that one of the things I like best about Aaron’s work is the rapid change from seriousness to comedy to serious. Well, I was being a bit disingenuous, because what I actually told Aaron in person was that “one of the things I like best in your work (because I also like it best in my own work) is….” See, it’s all about me.

I hadn’t really thought about why I like that or where it comes from. But then I read an interview with Sarah Ruhl in the May/June Dramatist magazine where she said:

Another influence for me was Joyce Piven, whom I studied with in Chicago. She worked in commedia, Chicago commedia, which is very high-octane. It doesn’t feel Midwestern or Italian. There are four emotional states — happiness, sadness, anger and fear — and the actor has to participate in each emotion to the nth degree and switch to the next with no transition. I became used to actors who could do this, who could be so scared they were trembling and then suddenly be laughing, and it can be weird for me to work with actors who had other training, who don’t understand when I say, “First you’re laughing, then crying, then laughing, then crying.”

Hmm. I have a background in improv and commedia. Is something about the quick change from emotion to emotion embedded into commedia and improv, and making its way into my work, and calling out to me in the work of Aaron and Sarah and others? Is it something I even want to be conscious of? Worth ruminating on….