Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day 2: The Real Things

Brent Spiner (Data, the android) and Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deana Troi) of ST: TNG.
(My camera battery died so I have no photos of them on stage, not that they would have been very good, and I just quickly found this one online.)
They appeared together this afternoon for an hour. Usually the performers are on stage for only half an hour, but these two are superstars of the ST universe. And they are pros: funny, engaging, polished.

I've never seen actors stand up as themselves before, and it's illuminating. First thing: they all grab the frame. I mean, they have all come on with strength and confidence. Maybe they have doubts offstage, but man, they control the spin when they're on.
It is impressive. After all, some of these people are truly small-time TV actors, who just happened to be on one ST episode, but they present themselves beautifully, with no apologies or hesitations. I guess like politicians, come to think of it.
I want to learn some of their tricks.

Actually, a couple of them have said, "Acting is lying."
Janice Rand, I mean, Grace Lee whitney, who is 27 years "clean and sober" talked about the similarity between acting and addiction: with both, she said, "you get to be a really good liar."

[NOTE: I read Whitney's book, right, when I got home. It was pretty good. A little odd, but interesting.]

And Brent Spiner, asked how he played Data, who has no emotions, said, "I faked it."

I'm not a huge TNG fan, but I do like Data.
(The episode "Measure of a Man," about whether or not Data has human rights, stands on its own as an exploration of what makes us human: the answer lying partly in how we treat others.)

An audience member asked the two actors if they'd get into character and do a little routine. Sirtis, who seems to be a sweetie, went right into being Troi and said a few things in her accent, which was a lot of fun.

Spiner, sharper-edged, was obviously not at all keen. He made a slightly snide comment about how he doesn't act without payment (though of course they are paid to appear here).
After a few jokey comments, finally he said, "I'm not going to say any lines but I will do this."
And he cocked his head.

It was astonishing: with one little move, he had become Data.

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