Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Friday, 6 March 2009

"Are you giving me a line reading?"

IIRC, there is an exchange about that in "Noises Off," the backstage, onstage, about stage, stage play.
It is a cardinal sin for a director, demeaning to the actors, and betraying his own inability to articulate his vision (assuming, of course, he has a competent cast... with 8th graders, say, ya may have to just give up and say, "SAY IT THIS WAY.")

I try not to "critique" liturgical or devotional "performances," like a director taking notes.
(I try, but I do not succeed.)
Choices, decisions, programming, intentions, an addiction to improv -- those are fair game. But how well you do something? I try to lay off.
The singing out of tune, the gestures awkward, the preaching halting, the readings in audible? I've got to assume you were doing your best. (You interrupt the Eucharistic Prayer, on which you are riffing, to make a crack to the house band, that's a different matter... that''s what I mean by "intentions," I am not claiming to know what was in your mind, but unless you have Tourette's, ad libs at Mass? own'em, man up and take the blame.)

All of this is prologue to saying that I want desperately to talk to a priest I know about his "lines readings," I am dying to give him some.

His eccentricity of inflection reached new heights or depths this morning after Mass at Stations .... "Jesus carries His cross."

Pretty straightforward, eays enough, right?

"Jesus CAR-ries Hiiiiiiis cross...." as if, what? to decry the sad fact that "SOME of us FED-EX ouuuuuuuu-ur crosses?

It's just so weird, that it yanks the listener out of prayer completely.

I feel churlish for having, in my mind, dubbed a celebrant I encountered while traveling, Robo-priest, for his monotone delivery of the presidential prayers.
I'd prefer that, now.

I wonder, do priests, from time to time, like actors, do that on purpose? change things up, looking for fresh insights lest words become rote and routine?

I can't fault that, but to thereby make the words nonsensical... (Oh, WHAAAAT? a rogue, and peasant slave? AM I?)

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