An expert in the craft also warns actors to beware of dogs, small children and happy drunksYou are looking at Liz Montgomery and me engaged in the age-old process labeled by an optimistic bit-player as "scene-stealing." The method varies; you can make faces, use hand signals, even resort to bird calls. The object is always the same-to attract the attention of the audience to the most talented, deserving and irresistible actor in the show. . . yourself.
It can be fun, I'll admit; but, take it from me, I've. tried it and it just doesn't work. As an old hand at the game (I started in burlesque), I've approached it from every angle. Don't misunderstand me. I've seen an occasional limelight-theft, but never as a result of deliberately distracting gyrations. Once in a while someone standing absolutely still while another actor speaks is so appealing or compelling that the speaker loses the stage to the silent onlooker. In such cases the scene obviously belonged to the actor with superior talent or charm in the first place.
The above cannot be applied to dogs, small children or happy drunks. They belie the rules and are surefire bait for the attention of any animal lovers, proud parents, other small children and WCTU members.
There is then, in my opinion, no such thing as scene-stealing. Acting is an art, and the ability to mug and cavort is no substitute for talent. Now, if you will excuse me, there is an actor delivering an impassioned "Hamlet" soliloquy. I think I shall stand near him and wiggle my ears.
An eye for an eye-she gets back by gleefully pulling out gray hairs as you deliver a dramatic speech that is particularly serious and involved The best of all audience grabbing tricks are the more obvious ones: waving your arms in the other fellow's face, or hopping from one foot to the other in evident impatience to get in a simple word before the commercial. A well-placed hand is best for obscuring your partner's face in close-ups.
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