“I wrote stories from the time I was a little girl, but I didn’t want to be a writer. I wanted to be an actress. I didn’t realize then that it’s the same impulse. It’s make-believe. It’s performance. The only difference being that a writer can do it all alone. I was struck a few years ago when a friend of ours—an actress—was having dinner here with us and a couple of other writers. It suddenly occurred to me that she was the only person in the room who couldn’t plan what she was going to do. She had to wait for someone to ask her, which is a strange way to live.” –Joan Didion/The Paris Review/1978
In the class, on the notion that acting is about entering into the necessities facing a character: if the actor can touch the need to do and say what the writer has given her to do and say, she succeeds. And why did the writer give her those particular things to do and say? He needed to. He had, as Didion says, an inner prompting, a need, an impulse. The idea is that the actor is attempting to find and work from the same impulse that prompted the writer to give birth to the text in the first place.
It’s not every day you find out that you and Joan Didion think the same thing. Today is now a great day.