A long, long time ago, I was a member of a repertory theatre company in London. We alternated with one of two plays each evening, and one or the other for a matinee on Saturdays. Every four weeks or so we changed the plays. That meant in any particular week, each actor/crew member was performing two full plays and was rehearsing two others. It was a tough slog and I didn’t last long as an actor. I just couldn’t retain that many lines and still keep them straight. Hold that thought.
Meanwhile, my Bride is addicted to the soap opera “General Hospital“. It is a love affair that long predates her infatuation with yours truly. I generally don’t get to see it because I’m at work when it is on. But when I am at home, like this week, “General Hospital” is not something I can easily avoid. Like many, I have had a very low opinion of soap operas. But why exactly? Is it a class thing? I don’t really know.
What I do know, is that I have come to respect the repertory actors who inhabit these shows. Soap operas don’t have the budgets for special effects or location shooting. They are dialog-driven, with more than forty minutes of speech delivered every day, five days a week, 50 or so weeks every year. These things tend to have large ensemble casts (contrast them with primetime comdedies or dramas), but still the burden on each actor is impressive. It so far exceeds the number of lines I had to learn on the stage each week, that I cannot but be impressed.
And a surprising number of the actors make a great effort in their characterizations. They are hamstrung by the contrived nature of much of the dialog, by the budget/production limitations that keep each scene in a single place, and by the limited number of locations that be created. But they keep at it. These, just like the actors who fill out the #2 and #3 touring companies across the continent, are true artisans of the acting craft, excellent workaday actors.
Did this post have a point? Does it need to?