This article from the New York Times talks about the recent legislative backlash agains wearing your jeans low. Officials are arguing that it’s indecent. Well, whatever you think about that, it does make the point that what you are wearing MATTERS, particularly if you are an actor. The article talks about how wearing the baggy pants is sometimes a statement of disrespect for the Man. It also briefly recounts the history of the zoot suit, the uniform of urban minorities in the US in the mid-twentieth century. During WWII wearers of zoot suits were actually the victims of riots in L.A. Who knew that Rodney King happened before it happened?
Anyway, given all of this, I have to say that the relectance of students to go to the thrift store and find themselves some appropriate rehearsal clothes for the characters is thrown into sharp relief. I spend precious time in class speaking to this issue, and send Group Posts about it as well, and it’s still not unusual for people to show up to class to do their scene in their street clothes. I see this as symptomatic of a largely unconscious reluctance to transform, to take up someone else’s PART. This unconscious reluctance is the actor’s spiritual public enemy number one. We have to be ruthless with, and give no quarter to, this nasty demon who tempts us into the doldrums of inaction and “I’ve already thought about it/dealt with it.” Fortune, as a wise man once said, favors the bold!