Creativity Magazine

The Screaming Over-Compensator

Posted on the 14 June 2013 by Shewritesalittle @SheWritesALittle


So, we had one of those mostly smiley Preview audiences, who…I am sure…prob’ly enjoyed themselves just fine.

Occasional laughter by all, was heard. Occasional booming ones selectively, from others.

…But we learned quickly, that it would not be quite at the frequency that we were hoping. 

…Which bothered some of us. (Me)

…Which is dangerous in comedies, because sometimes that influences the knee-jerk reaction to amp or over-compensate in some way: An Actor version of poking the audience with a stick in order to hopefully arouse the desired response.

…As if that has EVER worked, in the HISTORY of the theatre, in ALL OF TIME.

(It doesn’t.)

But, Actors are stubborn assholes, who (by the time you see them do what they do to entertain you) have already vested a pretty huge fucking amount of time and effort into a thing.  And so, though we KNOW that over-compensation isn’t going to do a goddamn thing to achieve the kind of endgame we were hoping for, a lot of us will try it anyway.  And for a lot of us, it is an automatic switch that flips, running on it’s own little generator.

Actors have different compensation mechanisms, I find.

…Mine is screaming.

Something in me assumes that if the reactions are slow or silent from the seated sections, it is most likely because they prob’ly just can’t hear what is being said.  So my auto-pilot fix is to amp the volume. About 12 decibels.

…I also like to infuse an extra shot of energy.

…Which, when added to the screaming, is like slamming a 5-Hour-Energy shot, with a RedBull chaser.

Now: do it in an English dialect, while wearing a lot of fancy clothes.

That was basically my Preview performance.

Again, on auto pilot.  It would just kick in. No matter how much I had told myself not to let it, while pacing backstage, listening to one-liner after one-liner, fall into a pit of mostly silence.

I was determined to get up there, and be fine. And I was fine…until the first couple “dings” of missed opportunity hit. Then, I would begin to panic, and project my vocals suddenly with enough speed and power to kick a train off it’s tracks.

…Have you ever attempted a love scene while being intimately yelled at?

Earnest has.

…And it was not one of Gwendolen’s more evocative moments.

Somehow, between tonight and tomorrow, I have got to just calm the frick down.

Nobody is going to get everything that we do.

Nobody else spent a month pouring over and interpreting the text, like we did.

This does not equal failure.

…Nor the need to panic.

For some: it will be the physical comedic angle that’ll get ‘em. For others it will be accents and costumes. And for probably fewer than I was anticipating: it will be the actual language content.

It’s period.  It’s British.  It’s an acquired taste to a contemporary palette.

I suppose it would behoove me to remember that.

…And maybe also, to watch the auto-indicator when the anxiety levels start to rush.

Center. Focus. Delight.

I charge myself in ink, to enjoy the hell out of my castmates tomorrow night…to work my ass off…to think of delicious, decedent Gwendolisms, and receive any output by the audience, as a garnish perk.

The end.

~ D

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