Monday, August 17, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #54: Pay Attention to the Unnoticed

OBSERVE: Pay Attention to the Unnoticed “You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it.” —Neil Gaiman

The fool is in the details. Fools imagine that the world is a series of magic tricks to be figured out, if only they look where no one else is looking.

You spy, misunderstand, look for laughs, and change your perspective. Now it's time to go farther and/or deeper. You pay attention, not just to the obvious things that first capture your fancy, but to the things you missed, overlooked, ignored. Those are the missing pieces that will complete the puzzle.

Whenever you wonder, why didn't I think of that, then somebody else paid attention to the unnoticed before you, and it only seems obvious in retrospect.

In rehearsal and performance, an actor gets the chance to revisit scenes over and over, and see beyond the superficial. Today I ran through one of my pieces, made notes, and then ran through it again to focus on other things. I'd look in a different direction, or spend more time with a prop than I usually would. From there I found comic possibilities I would have skipped past otherwise.

The reason Chaplin's character is able to stay one step ahead of the criminal and the cops in this clip from The Circus is that he is aware of what they initially ignore. And the director/writer/performer Chaplin would not have been able to create this piece if he hadn't spent time exploring the all possibilities of a funhouse hall of mirrors.

Think: What did I notice? What did I miss? What did others notice and miss?

Next: How to Think Like a Fool #55: Follow and Trip Assumptions

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