Pronunciation: /ˈvʌlgə/ adjective
1: lacking sophistication or good taste:a vulgar check suit
2: making explicit and offensive reference to sex or bodily functions; coarse and rude: a vulgar joke
3:(dated) characteristic of or belonging to ordinary people.
The above is from the Oxford English Dictionary.
The word of today, according to Philippe an actor should never be vulgar but what does this mean? Well we can immediately rule out number 2, so many plays since plays began have characters that make explicit references to sex or bodily functions, in fact monsieur Gaulier often makes jokes that are of this nature, non, this is not what is meant by an actor never being vulgar.
And we can think of characters whose clothes are vulgar; Malvolio in his cross gartered yellow stockings immediately springs to mind, so this leaves us only with number 3, a dated meaning but one that made so much sense in class today.
The exercise; to enter and to paint little brushstrokes, tiny flecks of character that colour the canvas of the audiences imagination.
There was a "writer" in the corner, another class mate who had to help the actor if they got stuck.
Philippe asks for a volunteer.
I walk off stage with absolutely no idea what to do.
frantically look for something to go on stage with.
I grab a pink plastic bag and a toilet roll as Philippe bang his drum bumbumbubmbubmbubmbubmbubmbubm..bum...bum...BUM!
And I'm on.
Take in the space.
Move to the chairs.
Take off my hat.
Wait for a response.
I look cheesed off. Then look at the chair and tut. Take the roll of toilet paper out the pink bag, tear off a strip and start to wipe down the chair.
Suddenly I'm cleaner man, pleased at having found something to do on stage, oh yes this acting lark is easy.
Philippe rings a doorbell on his i-pod.
I go off to see who it is. He stops the scene.
Not a good start.
Maybe the choice of toiet paper was a metaphor for the shit I just did.
He goes on to explain that i killed myself the moment i took my hat off, that when i entered he was happy to be with me. That he was happy to dream around me. But that within 30 seconds i had killed myself.
That an audience has to dream around the character for 2 hours.
And i lasted 30 seconds. Ay-ay-ayit's a bit like when I fuck. ( is that vulgar?)
He told me that cleaning the chair was vulgar, I wasn't sure I knew what he meant.
He told me to leave and to whisper words offstage very fast.
"Now you enterrr."
"And you cry."
"You say "to be or not to be" whilst crying."
"You come forward singing a love song like a music hall star."
I went a bit Bill and Ted and sang every rose has its thorn.
"You ask someone out here for a mescal."
"Louder and you are drunk."
Can i have a mescal.
"Louder and you are drunk."
And you don't wipe your mouth.
GIMME A MESCAL
NO, GIVE ME THE FUCKING BOTTLE.
"STOP TOUCHING YOUR MOUTH!"
He plays some music.
It is fast and full of life.
And you dance.
I dance on top of the chairs.
"And don't be so heaveeee!"
"You play lighter."
"And you say a poem."
"A love poem."
I start. Stop all the clocks...
"Like Mark 5."
I deliver the poem lighter.
...I thought that love would last forever... I was wrong
I take a step back.
...I was wrong.
"and you leave rhispering I was wrong."
I walk back up stage centre.
Hold there for a second.
And as I leave.
Boom on the drum.
I come back out.
"He could have stayed longer at the end, non, Pon Pon?"
Ya, replies Michiko.
"We like him like this, non?"
The class agree.
"Ya. But when you touch your mouth as a drunk it is nuffing. It is vulgar. Anybody in the world could do this. I play drunk I wipe my mouth. So cheap. It is the job of the actor to be better. That the spectator, he thinks, i could not have done that, he is better than me.
I think on this. He is right how can we dream around a character if we only see cliche and obvious choices? For the spectators to dream we have to show them the unexpected, so they think "oh-la la who is this person" bif we only give them what they know how can they dream> They can't because they already know it, non.
So to anyone reading this; don't be vulgar on stage, don't do what anybody coud do, find a way to be special, then you are an actor, and your character lives in the audiences imagination, non?