In Polygraph by Lepage and Brassard, examine Lucie's audition scene. What kinds of contrasts does it set up between the worlds of stage and film?
In Polygraph by Lepage and Brassard, Lucie's audition contrasts the world of stage and film.
When Lucie begins her audition, she speaks to a wide area (while the lights shine in her eyes) as if she is speaking to an audience. She is directed to look at the camera:
Hi. My name is Lucie Champagne [...] I should tell you right away—I've never...What? To the camera!...OK...
Whereby one might imagine that an actress in the theater would introduce herself and have a piece prepared for the audition, this is not what the filmmakers want. Lucie is ready to act out her Hamlet soliloquy, but they are not interested. They seem to want to get a feel for Lucie not only as an actress but also as a person: perhaps trying to imagine the scope of her acting abilities for this unusual role. (This also may allude to a once-popular belief in some circles that stage actors are more talented that those in film.) Lucie talks a great deal, as if she were telling her life story or talking to a psychiatrist. She may do this because in the theater, the director would be interested in her ability to project her voice; but again, the filmmakers will use microphones, so this aspect of her performance is not that important. They seem more interested in Lucie herself and less interested in getting down to the audition. Perhaps we can infer that for the filmmakers, this is the audition.
And required skills on the stage are different than those in a film because of the nature of the live theater as opposed to recorded acting: on stage one has a single opportunity to get it right; on film, one has multiple chances.
When Lucie tells them that she is playing Hamlet rather than Ophelia in her current production, she indicates that she is an actress who is willing to work outside of the more traditional parameters that may be the norm in theater.
When the filmmakers ask Lucie to imagine herself in a "tragic situation" and improvise, she tells them right away that she cannot cry on cue. This also is not a concern for film: as seen later with the use of fake tears.
It would seem that the theater relies on a suspension of belief by members of the audience. They will continuously be aware that they are watching a stage performance, as curtains close, props and sets are changed, and the members of the audience accept that they have to use their imagination to fill in the spaces during theatrical transitions.
Film does not rely on this. The moviemaker hopes to transport the theatergoers out of their seats and into a temporary reality. The restrictions for the stage are much greater as the actors attempt to tell their story. In film, there is greater latitude afforded the actors to get it right:
...put me in a movie where there's a sad scene where I have to cry, and I'd concentrate to the point where tears would well up...
To imagine myself in an absolute state of panic...Ok, I'll do it.
One is given the sense in the audition scene that with enough practice (repeated takes) the desired result can be achieved. Whereas theater has limitations because of its necessary spontaneity even in light of long hours of rehearsal—especially (it is said) when working with children or animals—film allows for more latitude in creating a perfect finished product.