Kerri Miller's interview with theater artist Mark Rylance offered an intimate and deep look into one actor's conception of his craft.
A few excerpts:
"I was lucky enough to see Miles Davis play, in London. To my amazement, he came out in the big Royal Festival Hall, with his back to us. And he just played with his back to us. Occasionally he would turn sideways, if he had a solo, maybe, but mostly he just played with his back to us, without any special lights. And I thought, 'What's going on here?'
"He said, 'We're not going to do a presentation of my music, we're going to make music here. And though it's a big hall, we're going to treat it like you've come into some rehearsal room in Brooklyn or some kind of place where we just gather and make music. And you can enjoy it. We're actually going to create new stuff, with you in the room.' And I thought, 'What a privilege. What a fantastic thing. He's not presenting the solution. He's asking questions, with us in the room.' ...
"He was willing to make mistakes and have some chaos and creation in there. This is what we go to when we go to a sports match, don't we? We don't want Serena to come out and give a presentation of the best return — they've practiced, and the ball lands in exactly the same place, and they do it and then she pretends to fall over and gets up, and Oh, the point has been won, hooray! — acted out. No. We want to see her really try and win the point and someone else really try and win, and there's going to be messy, messy bits of that, and sometimes there are going to be boring games, boring matches. ...
"If I go and see a play like 'Hamlet,' I want to see a young person going through the kind of things I know young people go through, and some of these things are so terrible they don't make it through. ... I don't know what the statistics are here in Minnesota, but in London, the main threat for young men — can you believe this? — from 20 to 25 is suicide. More than road accidents, more than anything. The pressures on young people are so intense.
"I don't want some neat and tidy representation of that. I want to be with a young man going through terrible questions and pressures. And maybe I'll come out learning, having some instinct about how I might speak to a young man like that in life when I meet them, and maybe help them to make it through.
"The answers are for the audience to come up with. Our job as players is to give an experience, a real experience that's moving and funny. It's not a lecture. ... It's a collective experience of something in a safe environment where you can experience things which in real life might be too dangerous for you.
"There's a collective consciousness when people come together in a room. ... Every night is different, every night has a different mix of people. So they laugh in different places, they laugh in different ways, the quality of their silence is different. ... It's not like film or a recorded medium. It's a live medium. So you need to be very attentive to the audience.
"That's the whole point of it. It happens in their imagination, it's not happening anywhere else."
Rylance is appearing through May 18 in the Guthrie's production of his play "Nice Fish."
LEARN MORE ABOUT MARK RYLANCE:
Mark Rylance - 2008 Tony Award acceptance speech
• Mark Rylance
"Mark Lawson talks to Mark Rylance, one of the best stage actors of his generation, about his life and illustrious career." (BBC)
• 'Nice Fish:' An Interview in Two Acts
"Connie Wanek interviews poet Louis Jenkins and Tony Award-winner Mark Rylance about their collaboration on the play 'Nice Fish' and its evolutions from page to stage, as they prepare for the Guthrie's world premiere this spring." (MNArtists.org)