“Convincing” performance


I am interested in the word “convincing” and its use in theatre performance. What is a “convincing” perrformance?


Is it really the role of actors to “convince” an audience that they are “real”? The word, to me, seems a little like “Persuasion”, as if the audience (and even the actor) begin in a state of reluctance, even cynicism about “believing” (or suspending disbelief) and that the role of the actor is to persuade the audience to “believe”, to convince them that the production is not only worth watching, but to enter emotionally into it.


Are there, in your experiences, alternatives to “convincing”? How else can impact be achieved, or connection created? I have heard theatre referred to as a “dialogue” between actor and audience, which is a term that seems ambiguous to me. Also an “interchange”, a “sharing” or an  “Interaction” even a “communion”!


If an actor plays a particular part, and the majority of the audience are “unconvinced” by the actor – they didn’t believe he or she WAS that person, and so found themselves unable to enter into the piece itself, is that where “convincing” is important.


It isn’t something the actor is consciously trying to do – to say “Hey, forget I am John Smith – I am Winston Churchill!” – the actor BECOMES the part and it is up to their skill, commitment and the skill of the director to CREATE a role that is believable.


I am still not at ease with the idea that the purpose is to “convince”.

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