Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Know How to Lie

Here's a subject for debate:

Leaving Write Act this evening, it occurred to me that one of the keys to making good theatre is know how to lie, and what to lie about.

You can get away with a whole lot on stage. The audience willfully allows the wool to be pulled over their eyes. The catch is, you have to do meet them halfway and do a convincing job.

For instance, in my play Torrid Affaire, one of the characters talks about body paint as foreplay. She says "waiting for the paint to dry was the most intense foreplay I've ever experienced." You know, I'm not certain that body paint ever dries sufficiently to enable smudge-free sex. It's a lie. No one has ever seemed to care!

The other part of this is you have to know what to lie about. You can't get away with lying about the emotional life of your character, for instance. Well, maybe you can. I've known actresses who could conjure up tears the way some adolescent boys conjure up belches. Perhaps I should say you can't lie about being in the moment. Yeah. That great, nebulous "moment" we're all striving for. You're either in it or not. You can't fake it.

So there's my latest theatrical theory. To make good theatre, you have to know how to lie and what to lie about.