Beware of friendly enemies.

I don’t prefer to work with one actor rather than another, I don’t have a troupe like Bergman has in Sweden. I'm interested mainly in the story, and I cast to realise that story. I don’t know who I shall use in my next picture, which will be made in Greece, but it will probably be somebody brand new again, only because it's more real to me that way. An actor is a person who quickly becomes “an actor," whereas there's a simplicity and unselfconsciousness and mystery about a new actor that an experienced actor often loses quickly. A person when he feels something in life would prefer to hide it, whereas an actor is in the habit of showing it. I’m not saying this is a general rule for other directors or that it is right for anyone but me, but it fits my own temperament and my own feelings about a film.

A star undercuts a story in some ways; you know he’s not going to die in the second reel or going to do anything unpleasant and that he'll get the girl in the end, and if he doesn’t come out well, the audience is disappointed because they've gone to the cinema to see him. I don't want an audience to come to see a star. I want them to see my story.

Very often recognised actors in a very subtle way condescend to a part; they clean it up, and make it more pleasant, glamorous, brave, courageous or resourceful than it is. There's nothing more boring than the bravery of an actor, and when you get a person that's new, he’s not on the lookout to always be brave or be cleaned up.

I can't stand a hairdresser on the set, and I try not to have one. But if the unions force one on me, I tell her to go in a room and play solitaire or something. If I see one fussing with the leading lady’s hair, I have a fit the first day, and then they don’t come round again. I mean I like them personally, but I don't want the hair in place. One objection I have to most costumes is that they obviously look like they were made for the film and have never been worn or used before. It's a very hard thing to fight unless you’re terribly determined and persistent; everybody's trying to clean everything up on you.

The set is full of many charming and very friendly enemies, people who are in the habit of making things pretty and more comfortable. This is the whole technique of Hollywood, to make everything more digestible. My whole effort is to bring the impact of life to the screen, so you don't ever know quite what’s going to happen.

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Secret handshake.

Every work of art is one half of a secret handshake, a challenge that seeks the password, a heliograph flashed from a tower window, an act of hopeless optimism in the service of bottomless longing. Every great record or novel or comic book convenes the first meeting of a fan club whose membership stands forever at one but which maintains chapters in every city—in every cranium—in the world. Art, like fandom, asserts the possibility of fellowship in a world built entirily from the materials of solitude. The novelist, the cartoonist, the songwriter, knows that the gesture is doomed from the beginning but makes it anyway, flashes his or her bit of mirror, not on the chance that the signal will be seen or understood but as if such a chance existed.

The crowded club of the chosen ones.

Soy hija de una prestidigitadora y de un acróbata. Nací, y viví siempre, en el circo. Estoy casada con un domador de fieras. Tengo un don probablemente excepcional. Basta que alguien se acerque a mí, para que yo lea su pensamiento. Me resigno, sin embargo, a que mi actuación en el circo donde trabajo sea aún más modesta que la de los payasos: ellos, al fin y al cabo, pretenden provocar la risa. Yo, por mi parte, con falda corta y muy largas medias blancas, al compás de la música, ejecuto pasos de baile ante la indiferencia del público, mientras a mi alrededor jinetes, equilibristas o domadores se juegan la vida.

De chica fui vanidosa. Para mí no había halago comparable al de ser admirada por mi don. Pronto, demasiado pronto, sospeché que por ese mismo don la gente me rehuía, como si me temiera. Me dije: “Si no lo olvidan quedaré sola.” Oculté mi don; fue un secreto que no revelé a nadie, ni siquiera a mi marido.

De un tiempo a esta parte Gustav trabaja con un solo tigre. Hace poco nos enteramos de que un viejo domador, famoso entre la gente del gremio por tratar a las fieras como si fueran humanos, se jubilaba y vendía un tigre. Gustav fue a verlo y, tras mucho regateo, lo compró. La primera tarde en que Gustav ante el público trabajó con el tigre, yo bailaba en el centro de la pista. De pronto, sin proponérmelo, me puse a leer pensamientos. Cuando me acerqué a mi marido, toda lectura cesó; pero cuando me acerqué al tigre, cuál no sería mi sorpresa, leí fácilmente su pensamiento, que se dirigía a mi marido y ordenaba: “Dígame que salte”, “dígame que dé un zarpazo”, “dígame que ruja”. Obedeció mi marido y el tigre saltó, dio un zarpazo y rugió con ferocidad.

 

Adolfo Bioy Casares (1998) Una magia modesta