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“Psychiatrists are cheap,” announces Beulah.

“Er,” says Pilsner.

“I mean narratively–”

“Yes, I thought you might.”

“–they’re an easy way to have somebody spell out all the careful little flaws and neuroses you built into your characters, and if you’re the kind of writer who does that then you’re the kind who should know how to reveal that in action! But instead the character angrily rejects it, then has a breakdown, then gives in to the wisdom of the shrink. Ding. Everybody in New York smiles.”

“Mmm,” says Pilsner, “and which of your parents is this about?”

“Your mom,” Beulah says.


“You know what Stoppard said about actors?” says Pilsner. “They’re the opposite of people.”

“What, if we touch we explode?” Beulah grins. “I think you’re giving yourself a little too much–”

“No,” says Pilsner, “he meant that once you hone your voice and face to create emotional impact, once you do it again and again for months, you gain a distance from true emotion that can’t be closed. Nothing you express after that, even in all honesty, can be free of performance. Actors are the opposition to people because people react.

Beulah blinks. “Pils, I…”

“Gotcha!” he says, just lightly enough.