Saturday, February 12, 2011

Acting and Directing

This is something that I had been pondering on, coming from various sources of origin - some good, and some not so great.  For one not so great origin was the first time I was accused of 'directing.'  This came from one of my exes on SL.  It was during a time of frustration and confusion among us.  The main thing was changes.  Now, let me make this clear, I do see change as a good thing, for the most part.  But it also depends on what the change is and how it can effect a person or affect the interaction of persons.  This is something that I don't think many RPers think about too much, as self indulgences often are more at the forefront for a good many, rather than consideration for the stories at hand, or could be grasped if persons involved were not so stuck on selfish desires, but rather considered more holistic goals that could be achieved through cooperation and collaborative efforts.

To this end, I am not going to get heavily into a theory of holism, but, I do contend that the basic principle is key to the particular aspects of 'directing' as it pertains to RP as it does to the more general aspects of direction and movement as a whole in universal life in general.  And the great thing is, this concept has been adequately defined  already in the World English Dictionary entry of the term 'holism' in defining that "the significance of the parts can only be understood in terms of their contribution to the significance of the whole" (

So what does this have to do with 'directing'?  Everything.  You see, an actor in a play is one 'part' to the whole of the play.  Yes, all actors are important to the play in as much as they contribute to the whole of the production.  Even just laying there as a stump, or standing there silent and stoic, or as some timid wallflower at some dance on the stage, the person there on the stage is contributing to the whole imagery of the scene.  If one were to wander from the foreground, and look to these particulars, an audience member may find themselves asking, "I wonder who that is?"  or "What is that person doing there?"  Essentially, in either question what is being asked is, "How does this part correlate to the whole?"

There could be a number of answers.  The person may be dressed in period clothes, say, a lute player lounging around playing a subtle tune that may be heard along the path to the castle, or a man in a business suit pacing back and forth as he has a conversation on his cell phone, to which the audience does not hear, but can only guess what it may mean.  Whatever the reason is, the particular of what is going on in the background of the scene aids in giving the representation of what is going on in the foreground as being something that doesn't happen in a vacuum, but in a living, breathing setting that the audience gets invited to view in the story unfolding on the stage.

RP is similar to that, but much more interactive.  The 'actors' are both part of the scene and part of the audience.  Directors also participate as actors, audience, and within the production of the scene - to put things in place to which the actors may choose to interact with.  The problem is, RPers can sometimes be very selfish.  Each one wants to be in that leading role, and few wish to be in the background of a scene - to just watch and not particularly be in the center of the stage of a scene.

Contrary to some people's beliefs, I am more comfortable with behind the scenes.  While my characters have taken lead in certain aspects, I'm also happy just to contribute to the whole in some fashion, without having to be at the center of everything.  Of course, from my perspective, I can be the narrator and give my view on the way I see things as going or having gone, but it is not the end all be all of things.  It is just one perspective, just as another person's perspective in the same scene is theirs.  Most of the times in my editing of any RP stories I have been involved in, they are generally in the 3rd person.  Of course they focus on scenes I have been in, particularly because I'm not 3rd person omniscient, and thus unable to see the scenes of what others have done in a particular RP, unless they happen to share such things with me in the aftermath.  But even so, this only shows what is great about RP - that there can be one particular story in production, but there are numerous other stories that come out of that production that has the potential for a great epic and adventure for all participating as a whole.

However, as much as this is true in a holistic sense, going under the basic principle that "the significance of the parts can only be understood in terms of their contribution to the significance of the whole," the quality and nature these productions and the stories that come from them still has to do with the quality and nature of the direction taken at the initial point of production.  At the time that I was accused of being a 'director,' I think I took it wrong.  Or, more precisely, I let the person who made the accusation have the power of persuasion to make me consider that directing was a bad thing.  But directing itself was not the bad thing.  The direction at the time was. Focus was lost.  Too much was being changed, and the scene was falling apart.  I had my contribution to that, and I suppose that still has a bit of a haunting nature for me.  But, now, I can see that I had little to no control on these things.  Aspects that people back then would not understand, nor seemed to care to, were taking away from the focus on the direction.  I lost faith in many people then, both rightly and wrongly so.  On one hand, I should know that faith in humanity is a bad deal, because people can and do change and can be unreliable.  And let's face it, many people online, let alone in SL, an online community are often dysfunctional and very, to put it bluntly, flakey.  Commitment to something is hard to get, and thus is why many good ideas for productions in SL RP can go south.  Not all the components can or want to participate in the whole.  But even so, directors still try to push productions to see if any of them do catch on and do that miraculous expansion into a multitude of amazing stories.

To be fair, though, to the online population, it is a reflection of the populace of humanity as a whole too.  This I get a daily dose of with my work in real life.  Out of all call I take at a call center, 10% at best actually are sales.  Of those, I'd say maybe 40% actually listen the whole way through the script - from the introduction, the sales pitch, to the rebuttal, and actually stay on for the closing of the call.  Another 40% to 45% will listen, or seem to be, but interrupt somewhere along the way, as well as through the closing (these are often the ones that will try to argue, more likely than not).  And the last 5% to 10% will eventually hang up, to which, maybe they actually listened to the prior statement in the recorded portion of the call that told them that their card was activated and ready to use, and did not get confused by the additional portion that said, "please stay on the line to hear about your product offers."  For the 5% that hang up before I have to start the introduction, I commend you for listening.  For the other 5% that remain on, as well as for those that get angry at someone they believe has the audacity to sell on them, grow up and either clean out your ears, or get a clue and learn to listen better. It's not my fault that you didn't listen, nor should you be surprised by a sales agent actually (*gasps!*) making a sales pitch. :p

 At any rate, the point, even to the rant paragraph above, is that, in whole, the ideal for directing is to be able to produce something that generates even more energy to the entire experience.  While someone tried to tell me this was a 'bad' thing, to be directing, I just have to say, I'm sorry, but it wasn't the directing that was bad, but rather the direction of things at the time, as well as loss of focus on goals.  This person may not like the concept of goals, but, the reality is goals are important.  Without goals, there can be no direction, and thus people easily get lost.  The parts fall apart, and the whole loses it's shape and becomes disconnected from itself.  In essence, it becomes a collapsed universe.  But, fortunately, new universes, and a new holism can come into being.  As a director, I seek to find a way to help shape one of those new universes that has been cut off from the old one.  And for those persons, both new and old, that choose to be grafted into this 'brave new world', I welcome you, and may we have many grand adventures in our stories, with many exciting scenarios and themes to explore.