In the past two months I’ve seen a lot of plays and musicals, a lot of performances, a lot of actors. But there are three actors who stand out from the crowd. I like to call them “Seelendarsteller”, which translates in English as “soul performers”. These three have touched me in a way no one else did. Their performances reached directly for my soul. Having something like this happen is a very special moment. It doesn’t occur often, nor is it possible to explain this feeling to someone. Maybe you could describe it as someone grabbing your heart, you feel it entering into a deeply human territory, that you rather like to keep secured from anyone’s interference. But you can’t help it from happening, and if it does it feels like the most powerful and comfortable emotion you could possibly have, while at the same time your heart aches and tries to catch breath, because there’s a sudden feeling of longing and belonging. If you are brave enough to open yourself up and let your heart take over, you may be lucky to experience moments like these. That’s where these “soul performers” come in. They are the ones that let these moments happen. It’s first and foremost their bravery, their open heart, that is responsible for something like this (yes, in a way) “bonding” to take place. I don’t know how they do it, how they are able to let the character completely take over, while at the same time entirely being true to themselves. It’s a balance that’s extremely challenging to keep and it takes a lot of courage. It’s almost like they open up a channel to let everything come to them – from wherever – and they just allow and trust in this and act upon it. As I said it’s extremely difficult to describe, but if you keep yourself open and experience one of these “soul performances” there is something very special and magical happening – something so intense it more often than not leaves you in tears.
It’s a feeling of two souls meeting on an absolutely non-judgmental, but deeply human, level. It feels personal, it feels like nobody else is there, just those two, free souls – even though you are in a room full of people, even though you are sitting in the auditorium, and he or she is on stage, even though you actually don’t know each other and probably never will.
You might ask who these three actors, these “soul performances” actually were, who “provoked” my “meeting of souls” in the lasts months. To be honest, it’s (in a way) difficult for me to share. Do you know that feeling when you like something so much that on one hand you want to tell everyone about it, but on the other hand are afraid of sharing because you feel that it’s “only yours” and you would be very vulnerable if you revealed it and you don’t want to get hurt? It’s like this for me. But I will share them with you, because I want you to know, even though you might not feel like I did seeing them perform, because everyone is different…
The first one was Michael Vinsen who played Peter in Bare: the rock musical at Greenwich Theatre. You could feel his incredibly deep connection with his character, his surrender to something beyond himself. There are no words to describe what he made “happen” on stage, within himself, within me as a spectator. It was – and this refers to the other two as well – a “total act”, using a term coined by Jerzy Grotowski.
The second “soul performance” was by Colin Morgan in Mojo, a play that first and foremost works because of the fine acting of everyone in the cast. But Morgan had a special aura and although the other actors played on a very high level it was him that made this “bond” happen. He completely immersed himself in the role of Skinny Luke. Even adopting quirks and specific gestures in such a subtle way that you could feel the soul of the character, feel the vulnerability, feel the wounds. You could see him think just by looking into his eyes.
And finally, Declan Bennett as the Guy in Once. Have you heard him sing? He has a voice that reaches directly for your heart. I immediately have to surrender, because it just touches me on a very deep and personal level. There is no way out. It’s special and wonderful, it’s comforting and gives me hope, but it is hurtful as well, because you get vulnerable, you heart is out it the open and that scares you in a way. Go and see him perform his own songs or hear him sing these beautiful music from Once and let his performance resonate in you. At a small gig last Sunday, Bennett mentioned that in Once he is basically playing himself with an Irish accent, joking that that’s easy, but soon after correcting himself by honestly saying that it’s the most difficult thing to do.
Being oneself is exactly what this “meeting of souls”, these “soul performances” are about. It means opening yourself up and being vulnerable. You have to be brave to do that, but even though it’s scary and at times really difficult, I guess, in the end it is what counts.
Photo by Flickr user Nelo Hotsuma under a Creative Commons Licence.