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47 The Actor

hexagram-47-actor‘CALLING THE DIRECTOR a vampire, in rehearsals, won for her the love of all the cast,
except his mistress, playing Snow White.’

Inhabiting a tree is formative. From fingers browning and falling you
progress to almost visible roots, then later to cruelly self-examining in
the round, the bourgeoisie undressed, shielded by a dustbin lid. A bonfire of
fancy dress brings authentic renewal. It’s feeding time in the theatre: the
actor eats off bare boards the delirium from which he was born.

1st – The Student Actor
Ambition travels radially along the bus routes, like a brushfire. To have a
skull on your mantelpiece, where an Oscar would sit less broodily! This is
a play so vast, it’s a system – an ambient electricity. Oh, to be a dark lean
planet in the existential north, drinking the energy of southern souls!

2nd – The Actor Reciting Poetry
The words are imperious: syntax wraps itself around them, like a consul’s
cloak tossed in patrician gestures. What we lose is the flowering heart;
what we learn is that language is a notation of itself. ‘Please trust me with
my own performance,’ says the steam to the kettle, misting the windows.

3rd – The Actor of the Floating World
Find the pillow diarist among ticket touts, squid sellers, truant servants.
The shrine maiden will read to you about bringing her dry riverbed shows
to the court; then the ban on women, then boys, then double suicides, on
stage. Admire the styles of the face, morphing towards peak drama.

4th – The Actor in Flight from the Self
Escape velocity is attained twice: first, the allure of a hiding place to
speak from; then the young giant you pretended to be, spotless skin,
filling the screen with the wrong squeeze. It’s you, evidently, kissing. Old
films disappoint: the girl you long to see again is always off camera.

5th – The Method Actor
You put on a stovepipe hat and build a cabin, and the right way to speak
just comes to you. Then you hold that voice through the coffee breaks,
while lesser actors keep their everyday thoughts to themselves. If you
didn’t shoot it, don’t eat it; and don’t shout ‘Shoot!’ unless you mean it.

6th – The Actress and the Bishop
Under the sheets: he and his favourite leading lady, surrounded by a crew
of sparks. She’s always on time, knows her lines and does her own hair
and make-up. Double entendres work best out of context, but nonetheless
are scripted for bedroom scenes. It works because nothing ever happens.

All six – The Actor’s Nemesis
Timely prompting died with Wolfitt. In any case, the storm machine is
turned up to max, the stage manager cranking away, unable to reach the
prompt book, which is soaked – the stage has no convincing substitute for
water. He dries while naked, on the heath with a word-perfect fool.

Introduction to Six-Way Mirror | The Index of Hexagrams and Cantos


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