“Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”
I have written many times about my love of General Hospital, so it should come as no surprise that I jumped at the chance to attend an event this past weekend with two of its stars, Rebecca Herbst and Scott Reeves. They play Elizabeth and Steve Webber – a fantastic sister and brother duo – and I was quite looking forward to hearing what they had to say about the show. I’d met Becky once before and remembered her as being quiet, but so insightful and sweet at the same time. That was the case on Saturday, too. There’s a grace and graciousness to her that emanates constantly. And Scott, what can I say about Scott? He is also very sweet … and hilarious. As in, laugh-out-loud funny. You can tell that he and Rebecca are great friends, which made for a really fun afternoon with them. They chatted, they answered questions, they cracked jokes, they took pictures and signed autographs, they made everyone feel welcome. I know soap operas catch a lot of flack from some people, but in addition to the actual show, I think this is one of the reasons why they stand apart in a good way – because you can see, literally, how genuinely the actors enjoy meeting and engaging with the fans. It’s an awesome community.
I won’t get into all the details from the Q&A (though I have to share the funniest part – Becky’s reaction to someone suggesting an Elizabeth and Sonny pairing? “Sonny will sneeze on her and she’ll end up pregnant with triplets!” SO. FUNNY.), but I do want to mention something that came up while I was talking to Becky during the meet and greet. As my friend Steph and I were waiting in line, I was trying to decide what to say. I had my talking points, so to speak, for Scott – I wanted to comment on particular scenes of his that he shared with the actress who plays his mother. I wasn’t sure what to single out to speak about with Becky, though … until a few minutes before my turn, when it was one of those light-bulb moments. After she and Scott signed my GH bag and we chatted a bit about the fabulous Robin Mattson, I told Becky how authentic her scenes are, how it doesn’t feel like I’m watching a television show, but rather simply dropping in on someone’s life. Scott said something to the effect of “wow, what a compliment!” and Becky agreed, thanking me and saying how sweet it was.
The whole exchange got me thinking: isn’t it the same with writing? Don’t we put ourselves into our characters’ shoes – into their lives – much the way actors do? Don’t we strive to make them as realistic, as authentic, as true as possible? Don’t we want to create an experience for readers where they feel as though they’re dropping in on someone’s world, rather than watching from afar? I’ve never really considered the similarities between acting and writing before, but I can see now that there are parallels. That the same hallmarks apply. That the same lessons can be learned. No, we don’t have the same visual tactics that actors use, but we can try to achieve the same through our words. We can show instead of tell. We can paint a picture through dialogue and description. We can set a scene. It may not be “lights, camera, action” in the traditional sense, but those elements are still there. The lights illuminate the thoughts whirling through our heads, the ones scrawled out in our writing journals, the ones motivating and inspiring our characters. The cameras are mental instead of physical. They capture a freeze frame in our mind’s eye and we then have the joy of trying to recreate it in words. And action … well, books may play out in 2D instead of 3D, but the action is still there.
Anyone else agree? Or have I just been watching too much GH and it’s gone to my head? :)
Also: completely unrelated, but l’shana tova to everyone celebrating! May your New Year be healthy, happy, and sweet! xoxo