Tim Walker on Acting

Asinine as it might sound, we have become a nation of actors.

Most of us wouldn’t consider ourselves professional actors and certainly we aren’t paid for the honour; yet we act.

We act in the face of people we wish to impress, we generally act better than we genuinely are; we act as a way of removing ourselves from undesirable situations and ultimately, we act when it becomes too awkward, too complicated or just too God damned difficult to portray our genuine selves.

In fact for many of us playing a particular role has become such an act of normalcy that if it came to it, we would probably struggle to locate our genuine selves.

The majority of actors will take on a different role for home as opposed to work life; another role for social life and of course one more role to play for the kids and their friends. This variety of role-filling is harmless in that it’s necessary to propagate a functional life – but what about when it’s not necessary?

What about the facades put forward by some people in an effort to gain an undeserved reputation or to leave a deliberately false impression? What about those cloaks of disingenuousness worn primarily to astonish, confuse or bewilder? Why? What is the sense of staging a show that by Act 1 Scene 2 will have fallen flat, thereby revealing the true self of the Muppet on display.

Why do we bother to put forward an image that we know we can never hope to maintain? Are we so impossibly full of ourselves that we can’t stand the idea of portraying anything less than scintillation? Why, and this is directed more at the actresses than the actors, when asked a question must the response be so decidedly positive and agreeable?

When a male speaks to a female for the first time, obviously, if that female is acting as though she’s being won over by him, the male will believe that he is winning her over.

If, during further correspondence the woman tells the man only things that she knows he wants to hear, before too long he will undoubtedly begin to fall for her. If, as the months go on she continues to act in this manner, feeding him only auspicious lines – words that she knows are endearing to him – he will likely fall very hard indeed. If, then it becomes inconvenient for her to maintain this act, of course, she can easily drop it…

The question remains though: how easily could he drop her act?

The point: insincerity, disingenuousness, sycophantism, obsequiousness and to a lesser extent pandering, have the ability to injure. Interesting that the first maxim I can recall learning was, Just Be Yourself.

Incidentally that was the same day I found out what a ‘maxim’ was.

We hear it with such frequency: “Just be yourself”. So why do we find it so very difficult? Why must we constantly try to be someone else, someone better – why must we act?



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Sally Benny

Photography by Trudy Self


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