A Moment of Truth, or How Acting Saved the Day

Last week while watching a play I was caught off guard by a powerful moment on stage. It was a moment of pure truth and visceral honesty.

Part of the reason I was so suprised was that this was near the end of the play and the script, thus far, wasn’t very compelling. It felt a bit like a step or two above tv soap opera writing. So I hadn’t felt very engaged.

But Stephen Yoakam is highly skilled and talented actor, and he had just spent nearly two hours in a play a man reliving (in flash back) experiences with his son while waiting in a hospital (in “real time”) wondering if the said son will survive an accident. He’s a tough-as-nails, gruff kind of guy, and when the moment all came upon him a bit too hard he collapsed. His emotions took hold of him, he fell to the floor looking as if were fainting, as if the floor had just shifted underneath him, and I and several others in the room audibly drew in a breath. And he broke down sobbing.

It all happened in an instant and I was pulled from my seat (mentally, emotionally) and was right at his side.

I’ve witnessed a grieving parent. It’s an image that’s indelibly marked in my mind. It is a raw, animal-like grief.

This is what reminded me what great acting can be. How powerful it can be. It surpassed the limitations of other things, it stood on its own, separate from the other elements surrounding it. One man, one moment of truth, reaching and touching the audience.

This is why enjoy being an actor, and why I enjoy watching great acting.

Thank you, Mr. Yoakam.


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