I stumbled across a great article, Matched Sets: The Pen and the Voice, in last Sunday’s New York Times Arts & Leisure section – a tidbit, if you will:
A playwright’s best fortune is to share the profession with actors whose mouths seem shaped to fit his words. Jason Robards deftly personified the written worlds of Eugene O’Neill (even if the playwright didn’t live long enough to see any of the actor’s definitive performances). During the past two decades, Edward Albee’s exacting syntax has been very nicely voiced by Marian Seldes and Rosemary Harris. And recently, the moody, ruminative Ron Rifkin completed his latest stint as mouthpiece of choice for the moody, ruminative playwright Jon Robin Baitz, in “The Paris Letter.”
It then goes on to dissect the pairings of Neil Simon to Matthew Broderick; Terrence McNally to Nathan Lane; and Christopher Durang to Kristine Nielsen. The best part:
Mr. McNally has said he hears Mr. Lane’s voice when he writes and never has to tell the actor how to deliver a line. The playwright seems to employ Mr. Lane as his onstage id, instilling in the characters he writes for him his own passions…
After finishing the article, it made me realize that Foster’s (my MoCW cohort) and my relationship is more normal than I thought. I have often fretted about how well we work together – “This is really easy – does this mean that I am hereby pigeonholed into his words? Is he pigeonholed into my characterizations? Will I lose my ability to aptly voice Havel? Stoppard? Kushner? Shakespeare?” Will I ever hear another writer/director say “Yes! Do that, always.”
Apparently there is no need to fret, because the big kids do it all the time and walk away unscathed.
But like every person in a healthy relationship, I also recognize that outside inspiration is a must. I have every intention to actively pursue diversity in my resume – I will keep auditioning for outside projects and continue to “forge new alliances” (damn you, corporatespeak!) and all that, but it’s comforting to know that I have a theatrical home. One where the words start out as his and become ours…the words like our very own little babies – the funny kind of babies that come from gay men and bossy women. Sweet.