“Whether the Glass be Small or Large, Fill it Full”


“Whether the glass be small or large, fill it full.”

This advice to artists of all kinds means the following to me, by way of analogy:

“If you take a thimble’s amount of water and pour it into a drinking glass, it won’t look so good.  (It’ll look even worse if you toss it into a bathtub.) But if you put the same thimble’s amount into a thimble, it suddenly looks perfect.”

Another way of saying it:

“If you don’t pour enough water into the glass, it doesn’t seem so good.  But if you pour in too much water, making it overflow, the result feels just as bad or maybe even worse.  Therefore, fill the glass … the vessel … the frame … with the right measure of contents.  Whatever the size, fill it up — no less, no more — and then your audience … your readers … your receivers … will feel satisfied.”

I think many of the best actors have the ability to make just the right gesture, use just the right tone … not too large or loud, not too small or soft, but somehow just right … following Hamlet’s advice to “Suit the action to the word, the word to the action…” (3.2)

Okay — I can already think of exceptions!  If it’s a rule, it’s a rule to be broken (although another good piece of wisdom, I’d say, is that you can’t break a rule until you know what that rule is and know how to obey it).

So, my thought is:

“Fill the glass full; and when you can do that well enough, okay, go ahead — break it if you will!”

%d bloggers like this: