On the Vaudevillians Right Under Your Nose

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A little-known fact that comes back to me every time this spacey-spazzy writer gets cast in a play or movie (or produces one of his own): acting requires the same kind of focus and physical coordination demanded of a magician, juggler or dancer…probably closest to the magician because the actions need to be integrated into a narrative, made to seem natural, and are often as not hidden from the audience. It’s not just a thing of “saying lines” — you have to repeat the same physical action repeatedly and with precision. Quick change is often part of it, but so is contortionism, acro-balance, tableau, simulated combat, vocal impersonation,hitting a target with a thrown object, and a hundred other skills, seen and unseen. It’s why I’m always quick to point out that actors were and are as much “vaudevillians” as any of the more obvious disciplines, perhaps more so because they expertly create the illusion that they aren’t. (This isn’t to pat myself on the back, but to give a shout-out to my friends — who do it so much better than I do).

For more on vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


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