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ActorOne of the actors taking part in the Palcoscenico di Carta/Paper Stage project made a very interesting observation.

It all began with a night-time message after the first of three meetings, in which he had read Faust(us) himself.

“This is a little awkward,” he wrote. “I’d like to be told I was good, but I don’t think I was… There’s no time, no room to work on the character – and I see that the PS calls for a reading, rather than a deeper identification… This is how it is, but still I feel inadequate. My fault, for never knowing how to keep to the golden mean.”

After telling him that he had been good – very good, in fact – and I was sorry for not telling him at the moment, it struck me that he was not fishing for compliments. This is something you tend to assume a little when you spend much time around theatre folks and are a bad person – but clearly this was not the case. So I asked F. what he had in mind, and whether he thought we could do things differently – and how.

Debate ensued about the nature of the Stage Paper – which F. ended by wondering if it was quite right to have “real” actors in it. “I see we definitely help give the rhythm – but still.”

This set me thinking. Il Palcoscenico di Carta was born with the help of the Campogalliani actors: they get to try out unusual characters, and provide the rhythm and spine of the reading – and, truth be told, the thrill of reading with the “real” ones… Really, it wouldn’t be the same without them.

On the other hand, F. is really very good, very popular with the readers, and we are good friends enough to chat about art and life late at night, and I dearly wish to have him on board – but not if he is uneasy. The Paper Stage shouldn’t be a chore. So I cautiously told him that, if he chose to give up I would understand…

And he was rather taken aback, because no – he most definitely didn’t want to give up. He says it is just very different from anything he ever did stage-wise. He was musing about it, trying to find his legs with something that is “like first reading and first night rolled in one, with nothing in between…”

Disconcertingly exciting, he calls it. You get the character, and then expose your first impression of him or her to the audience. An audience that, for the most part, reads back to you… From an actor’s point of view it feels a little raw, a little dangerous. Perhaps, I think, more than a little unfinished. But, despite that – or maybe because of that – exciting.

This was something we hadn’t expected, one of the things that cropped up as we read – and who knows, there might be further developments, because F. is also a drama teacher, and he says he is thinking of ways to use the practicalities of the Paper Stage as a teaching tool…

I’m really curious to see what he comes up with – and really, this is going to be one interesting unintended effect.