At The Ecole Philippe Gaulier part Quatre
Le Jeu finished today, the first module has given me a more concrete understanding of why a performer works or flops on stage.
A while back James from actionhero was talking about the role of charisma in performance: some people have good ideas, but they lack the charisma to make them work, while others can get away with lesser material because they are charming. His question, as i remember it, was: is it just about charisma on stage?
For me this question has been answered: YES. It is foremost about charisma on stage. We say a performer has charisma when we enjoy their presence on stage, not matter what they do we are happy to watch: we like them for who they are on stage. The audience liking a performer means they can connecting with them and therefore be inspired by them. This is the very most essential thing which that person can do. Having charisma an therefore being likeable, interesting, and engaging is the first thing. Once you have that you can do anything.
Some people are better on stage than others, some people just work well up there. Some have charisma. Some don't. I feel now that those people who we love to watch, who work well, do so because behind whatever they are doing is pleasure: they are essentially happy to be on stage. To be in front of an audience. To perform. This wonderfully ineffable quality is not teachable, it can only be developed by each person, it can only actually exist, or fail to exist, inside the performer. If they have it each moment: they work beautifully on stage. Philippe does not give you the keys to some magical kingdom where you find this quality. He makes you wander through a wilderness of flops (of your own creation) until you develop it yourself. Or perhaps decide on another career.
For me it makes sense of why my own shows work, of comments such as:
"What you do shouldn't work, if anyone else did it it wouldn't, but because it is you: it works."
For me this is because my own material inspires me, because i believe in it and want to share it. The pleasure this gives me is what make those shows watch-able. How wonderfully circular.
So, yes James, it is about charisma, because that is the first essential ingredient, (perhaps you can see the devising process as a kind of courtship wherein you find the material which inspires you and which makes the subsequent performance watch-able not just for its content but for the intrinsic relationship between the performer and their material) but charisma is not an end in itself, it is more like a vessel which carries the performance or a river which transports both actor and spectator. Without it the show doesn't hold together and we don't go as far as we could.