Saturday, December 3, 2011

The White T-Shirt Principle

THE WHITE T-SHIRT PRINCIPLE:  I've always held the belief that if an actor believes that he or she needs a host of costume changes, overdone digitized special effects, a wall of dancers behind them, flattering camera angles and lighting or a famous agent in order to make them look good and feel good -- then what they probably really need is to be held accountable to  "the white t-shirt principle"  that I often use when trying to be as subjective as possible when discussing the merits of one's theatrical performances (and, kids, you know how unbiased we are here at Studio of Style, eh?).   Consider, for example, the legendary performance of James Dean in the still-powerful film Rebel Without A Cause.  A great deal of Dean's scenes have him in nothing but a white t-shirt and jeans (Lee 101 Riders dyed an even deeper blue) -- and later joined by that incredible red jacket!  This combination would actually change the way American teenagers perceived what was "cool" and emulated it to the degree that the t-shirt, jeans and jacket trio became the de rigueur look in the 1950s.  But I digress.  The point is that acting is a craft that pulls from within one's soul that essence of everything about human emotion and existence and brings it out for us the audience to feel, to sense, to relate to and inevitably enjoy the experience.  If Dean could do all that in a white t-shirt and immortalize himself for all time in that singular performance, then what is possible for today's generation of actors to glean from this -- and even potentially deliver just as striking a performance as his?  Is acting really about what surrounds you, or what lies within that is revealed to a paying audience?  Food for thought, for sure, but I'll let you think about it for a while.  However, there'll be a quiz in the morning!