Whilst not automatically obvious as a comics post.....
It does have some relevance.
I have of late become obsessed with the work and interviews of Laurence Olivier. Prompted by a loose relationship through his first marriage to an ancestor of mine I have been reading about someone who was world famous before that world insisted he be prodded and interviewed and photographed and tweeted about. He was without a doubt an astoundingly good actor and director. If you have never seen any of his movies I insist that you watch some.
I recently watched a chopped up series of interviews that had previously been presented as an episode of The South Bank Show in the 1980s. Whatever your opinions of Bragg, and there are many, he did get access to some amazing characters over the years. And on occasion he gets some interesting views and honest insights from these studies. Sky Arts now hold the UK rights to these episodes and are representing them as retrospectives.
Olivier was a very interesting individual. He wasn’t really used to being interviewed for television as many of his generation were not. He spoke guardedly about his acting technique and Bragg supposed that this was because he didn’t want the world to think that his acting was merely a series of tricks. I extrapolated on this as he was someone who wanted the world to see his acting more as talent or natural ability of even the magical verisimilitude of an idolised actor. From this I began to think about it elsewhere in the ‘artistic world’ if that is somewhere or something?
We treat the word ‘talented’ or the phrase ‘natural talent’ as an easy go to these days. I myself have been known to use it on occasion.
But what is it? Is it something that actually exists? We are after all born with the similar sized and hopefully functioning biological organs give or take. We are born and grow and age and exist in this world concurrently with others who do the same.
I suppose what I am trying to say is are we nurture rather than nature?
Talent is not a magical gift we are born with but rather a mixture of physical hereditary benefits and how we see the world and are taught to see the world. Even a moment can make a difference growing up. That look at a world around us in a certain way that is prompted by some outside influence. Beyond those early teachings or inputs are the stages of beneficial learning.
To think that someone has some natural artistic talent that is fully formed the moment hero she popped out of his or her mum’s poop hole is akin to believing in ghosts or healing crystals or The Force or Batman!?
So, where does that lead and leave us? I would suggest that it leaves us with learned behaviour and activity that includes the exercise or exorcise of artistic pursuits.
Do we continue to probe and investigate technique and influence and approach ad infinitum? We fall at the feet of musicians and actors and artists and game show hosts like they are a deity at a sex shrine in a incident Mesopotamia. But they are just people sometimes with sweat on their brows. Although some people seem more and more transparent the older and wiser (cynical) I become.
I have always believed that they are just people. Some are worthy of my attention and many who are not. I’ll daily cringe at the self involvement, pomposity and pure bullshit of many in the artistic pastimes and businesses. Wrong? Hard but fair? Maybe all three. I’m often accused of being full of shit or writing simply to rile up and ruffle and get a response? This I am certainly on occasion guilty of...
Interestingly. When asked about his craft Olivier said the following:
‘I don’t think the public has any business to worry about our technique at all. You’re meant to present something that is done...’
He went on to make an analogy with a jeweller who is unbothered by the ‘How did you do that?’ questions.
‘I made it, why don’t you mind your own business.’
He continued back on the subject or acting and those that ask and ask and ask all the while trying to grab and own and steal what he had.
‘Gradually, gradually, being produced.’
So, is Olivier, the greatest actor of his and other generations saying that the secret is practise?
Of course he is. You know he is.
He ended with.
‘I’m very lucky. It’s a funny sort of day isn’t it.’
It was and it still is.
Many thanks for reading.