Richard Foreman posted an interesting discussion in his blog about how he directs his actors. I’ve added some emphasis.
I like actors that are not saying at every moment to the audience, on one level or another, love me, love me. Even when I was a young man I always disliked what I perceived as being the real content of performances which was ‘I may be suffering, I may be playing an evil person, but I want you to love me’. Obviously an actor wants to be liked. I want people who don’t, or I want to teach people how not to use that, how to have an inner laser-like intensity, that’s all inner directed, not going out so much towards the audience. One thing I’ve always told actors is that they have to think that everything they say is the most intelligent thing in the world (though they’re not saying anything in this play). They have to do it, it’s a secret that they have to assume that only one person in the audience is going to understand and they are not offering it on a silver platter for everybody. It’s a secret, so that when you’re sitting in the audience you can think Ahh I’m the one person that gets that, the other people aren’t smart enough to get it. That’s a delight, to think that it is not stated in a vulgar, general way, but you are sitting there with your partner in the theater and you poke him in the ribs and say ‘Hey did you realize what he’s saying?!’ You’ve got to have that feeling. I want a secretive kind of performance- performers that have secrets, and actually I think that gets me in trouble sometimes because I know certain people have said ‘Oh, I didn’t like the show because everybody seemed to be acting as if they had some secret and I didn’t get it.’ To me, that’s the only thing that turns me on because I do these shows to turn myself on, which would be a form of seduction, which I just said I don’t want to use. However, these are the contradictions that make up everything.
What I like about his shows is exactly that feeling he describes above: I feel like there’s all these secrets in them, and I’m the only one in the audience who gets some of them. The rest of the time I’m just wrapped up in what’s being presented viscerally while I’m thinking: “Well, I don’t get this secret, I wonder who here is?”