updates connected to the book Idylls for a Bare Stage
& to performances of the Idylls
& other initiatives related to the Art of the Poetic Monologue

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Performer Profile: Paul Morton

Paul Morton in "Palamedes, Inventor of Numbers, Alphabets, and Lighthouses, Muses upon his Accomplishments"

Paul Morton - "Palamedes" in the Idylls

    The Palamedes Idyll is one of four original compositions in Idylls for a Bare Stage, although the only one to be performed Sunday night (the rest having some relation to source texts).  Still, I can't say it's "wholly" original - going beyond the philosophical difficulty in saying that about anything.  Although the piece doesn't jump off from or follow another specific source, trace materials about this mythic inventor, this great Greek originator, seeded the inspiration... mythic facts, such as the detail that Palamedes - like Heracles, Jason, Ajax, and Achilles - was a pupil of Chiron the Centaur.

     It quickly became clear Paul had the tools to take on Palamedes:  rich voice, instinct, understanding.

     Yet, it is his free-wheeling process that takes him into the part.  Plowing, plunging.  It reminds me of the first thing I watched him do, during that Actors' Center workshop developing the techniques of the Idyll/poetic monologue, when one of our exercises triggered in him an instant persona for the piece at hand:  suddenly, he had an appropriate accent for the part, and the right tone and pacing to take him all the way through the scene - basically, it was performance-ready immediately, albeit in so far as what it was on book. 

     For the Palamedes Idyll, the complications of its rhythms between the abstract and the personal, between pristine mind and messy human endeavor, between analytic science and irreducible awe make it somewhat more involving for any actor.  Paul's free-wheeling plunging with each rehearsal took him powerfully into it, passes by turns led on or driven by the text; he kept everything loose with pass after pass at it, each a deepening, "knocking it out" as he calls it, each pass an incorporating, soon to find the character, soon to find the voice, then soon to find the thoughts, into the life of Palamedes, into what was Palamedes and was now his, Paul's.  So stick around - he'll knock you out with his Palamedes constituting the finale for Sunday's show.

     Paul Morton is an actor and lifetime resident of Alexandria.  Stage shows performed in include Fences, Hair, Taming of the Shrew, Lysistrata, Of Mice and Men, Romeo and Juliet, Comedy of Errors, Native Son, The Music Man, Victor/Victoria, Teahouse of the August Moon, The Curious Savage, The Crawlspace Waltz, The Christmas Carol, Intimate Apparel, and The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia.  He is also an actor of commercials, educational videos, and industrials.

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