IRONY the Challenge of Acting Oscar Wilde And George Bernard Shaw

the Challenge of Acting Oscar Wilde And George Bernard Shaw
Irony is another staple tool of wit in Style acting, and it often seems to come effortlessly to British actors because the British rarely say what they mean. “The speech we hear is an indication of what we don’t hear… One way of looking at speech is to say it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness,” says British playwright Harold Pinter. But I notice that some American actors (other than native New Yorkers) are made uneasy by the notion that what they are saying is a decoy from the true intention, that the language distracts from what the character is actually thinking They worry that the underlying meaning is not obvious enough and in their attempts to communicate it they destroy all irony because if it isn’t delicate, it’s not irony. It’s nudge,nudge or worse.
Meaning one thing while saying something else is like singing a harmony with yourself, and the dominant tune is the spoken words. If they are convincing in their own right, and the audience realizes the unspoken irony a second later, it’s funny. The character need not necessarily grasp the irony: awareness is not always part of the equation.
Another form of irony springs from the contradiction between words and actions. When this is deliberate it can be crude, such as “how very amusing” said with a straight face. Action should not reinforce an irony or it will overload it. For example, “I like you already more than I can say” should not be accompanied by a hostile stare. In fact, the action that accompanies irony should be ambiguously appropriate. In other words, it should be capable of being interpreted as the truth by the recipient, and recognizable cover up by the audience. It’s a fine line to tread.
Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is a minefield of irony, and you will fall all too easily into leaden unfunniness if the you don’t have a light touch.The structure of Oscar Wilde’s di


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