I can’t act that. If I’m playing Louis in Angels in America, I can’t act, “Hi, I’m here to tell you about what was going on sociopolitically around the issues of AIDS in the United States of America in the ’80s.” I can’t do that. I can only act what Louis wants and how he moves through his day. The playwright has to make that reflect the issues that he’s talking about.
That said, I will now prove myself a hypocrite. There have been times where I’ve said to a director, “I don’t wanna do it that way.” “Why not?” “Because, if we’re doing it that way, then the play is gonna be about something else. It’s gonna be telling a different story. And I’m not interested in telling that story.”
This is an excerpt from a talk I gave on acting as a career as part of the Working Professional Series at the Theater Department of Lehman College. It is also available as a transcript and podcast on the Lehman College Website.