Narrative and Doubt

Q: What's the main theme that unites your work?

A: It's all still acting work. There’s a performed persona at the center of it. Seen, usually, at a moment when his doubts arise and his attention shifts from the narrative action causing the doubt to more urgent reflections on his response to that action. His focus shifts from the behavior he thought appropriate, to a consideration of alternatives. So the circumstances causing the doubt are seen partly from the standpoint of his own current moment, right then, but also relative to their ideal form as it’s gathered up from his reflections, from his memories. I’m drawn to what happens in that reflective moment, but I’m more drawn to the fact that it happens. He’s trying to find happiness, relief from the doubt, through a recollection, something in his history, through an idealization of what he’s able to recollect. He wants a relationship, or at least the possibility of a relationship, between his current narrative time and the timelessness of that idealized recollection. For relief. To escape the doubt. He wants to learn, or unlearn, something about himself in the situation that sets this off. But there’s no objective truth that’ll help him.

I’ve been thinking about this in terms of clowning. In particular the aspect of his persona that comes into existence in this reflective state, and the language used to express it. Because when his narrative-time brushes against his Ideal there’s a consciousness born in their relation but I wouldn’t say he’s terribly aware of it, and this forms part of a comic set-up. While the audience sees a potential consciousness there, he’s stuck between the nature of narrative action and the nature of reflection, unaware that they’re incompatible. The comedy’s not tuned for laughs but there’s the potential for a particular kind of pathos and absurdity in this combination of a lack of self-knowledge, non-attainment, together with an awareness of conscience, and a partial consciousness of his own modes, where the knowledge of himself as that moment might be glimpsed and a kind of freedom possible. Where in this transition from actuality to an Ideal does he just exist? He’d like to know but he never “just exists” and the result is despair, and “comedy.” This conflict between ideality and reality is the comic moment here not because one state or the other is comedic but because the conflict doesn’t understand itself.

Sometimes, when the persona looks to the audience, in that look there’s the possibility of an escape, from the confines of the moment he’s trapped in, by switching his present time, for the eternity that the audience represents by being outside of it. But he can’t take advantage of that possibility, because the perspective really isn’t there for him.

Q: So then what happens after the shift?

A: He returns to the narrative, because maybe he’s distracted, or he’s forced back, and the story continues.