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Glenda Jackson: Acting is not about dressing up. Acting is about stripping bare. The whole essence of learning lines is to forget them so you can make them sound like you thought of them that instant.
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- (Stanislavsky): Profession -- Artist

God comes to us in theater [in] the way we communicate with each other, whether it be a symphony orchestra, or a wonderful ballet, or a beautiful painting, or a play. Its a way of expressing our humanity. Julie Harris

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I reconsidered my views on the three level of Acting Classes I teach. THR221 Intermediate Acting I plan to stress the Biomechanics, which are to be introduced in THR121 Fundamentals of Acting, along with the Method. In Advanced Acting the focus is on The Stanislavsky System.

It will take time to sort out the old pages in Acting Directory @ Theatre w/Anatoly and I plan to keep it for the Method Acting (both the Fundamentals and the Advanced).

Acting is easy and natural like swimming or riding a bike. Once you learned it, it's always with you.

Summary

"Stanislavsky was not an aesthetician but was primarily concerned with the problem of developing a workable technique. He applied himself to the very problems of developing a workable technique. He applied himself to the very problems that Diderot and others had believed insoluble: the recapture and repetition of moments of spontaneity or inspiration, which could not be controlled and repeated at will even by many of the greatest actors. Stanislavsky dedicated himself to the central problem of how to stimulate the actor's creativity. Even early in his career, while watching performances by great actors, he had felt that all of them had something in common, something he encountered only in greatly talented actors. In his later work, as director of the Moscow Art Theatre, he often experienced those flashes of intuition or inspiration that stimulate the imagination and turn something that one understands with the mind into an emotional reality and experience. Stanislavsky described such a moment occurring at a low point in the rehearsals for Anton Chekhov's drama "Three Sisters", when the "the actors stopped in the middle of the play, ceased to act, seeing no sense in their work." Suddenly something incomprehensible happened: an accidental sound, of someone nervously scratching his fingernails on the bench on which he sat, reminded Stanislavsky of a scratching mouse, setting off an entire sequence of previously unconscious memories that put the work at hand into a new spiritual context." [ Strasberg ]

Questions

Acting? It involves sophisticated role-playing and make-believe, pretending, conveyed through doing -- enacting on the stage a vision of life.

Shrew04
* Shake 2004: Bianca Story

Film Acting *

Notes

Acting can be considered as a "pure art": the artist and the instrument are the same.

Talma: "I call sensibility that faculty of exaltation which agitates an actor, takes possession of his senses, shakes even his very soul, and enables him to enter into the worst tragic situations, and the most terrible of the passions as if they were his own. The intelligence, which accompanies sensibility, judges the impressions which the latter has made us feel: it selects, arranges them, and subjects them to calculation." [from Strasberg on Method ]

See the notes in method.vtheatre.net on:

principles:

One of the cardinal rules is you stay with one emotion and one objective until something occurs to change it. You don't drift off because of the dialogue. You only change because of new information or a new event.

Speak with your body before you speak.

The content: you must hold something back. (see SUBtext)

To know where you are in your journey of telling a story.

When in doubt do nothing.

** Where ever possible use sense memory.

Heighten the words. Simple principle. And the key words (stress) in performance sentences.


Acting is the work of an actor, a person in theatre, film, or any other storytelling medium who tells the story by portraying a character and, usually, speaking or singing the written text or play. From the Latin word agĕre meaning "to do", this is precisely what acting is. In acting, an actor suppresses or augments aspects of their personality in order to reveal the actions and motivations of the character for particular moments in time. The actor is said to be "assuming the role" of another, usually for the benefit of an audience, but also because it can bring one a sense of artistic satisfaction.

Actors are generally expected to possess a number of skills, including good vocal projection, clarity of speech, physical expressiveness, the ability to analyze and understand dramatic text, and the ability to emulate or generate emotional and physical conditions. Well-rounded actors are often also skilled in singing, dancing, imitating dialects and accents, improvisation, observation and emulation, mime, stage combat, and performing classical texts such as Shakespeare. Many actors train at length in special programs or colleges to develop these skills, which have a wide range of different artistic philosophies and processes.

Modern pioneers in the area of acting have included Konstantin Stanislavski, Lee Strasberg, Uta Hagen, Stella Adler, and Sanford Meisner.


An actor is a person who acts, or plays a role in an artistic production. The term commonly refers to someone working in movies, television, live theatre, or radio, and can occasionally denote a street entertainer. Besides playing dramatic roles, actors may also sing or dance or work only on radio or as a voice artist. A female actor is an actress, although an increasingly large group feel that the term "actor" should be redefined as being gender-neutral and used for both men and women.

In the past, the term "actor" was restricted to men. Women did not begin performing commonly until the 17th century. When they did the term "actress" was used. In the ancient and medieval world, it was considered disgraceful for a woman to go on the stage, and this belief continued right up until the 17th century, when in Venice it was broken. In the time of William Shakespeare, women's roles were played by men or boys, though there is some evidence to suggest that women disguised as men also (illegally) performed.

Today, the term "actor" is often used to refer to both men and women, as some consider the term "actress" to be sexist. However, the term actress also remains in common use.

An actor usually plays a fictional character. In the case of a true story (or a fictional story that involves a real person) an actor may play a real person (or a fictional version of the same), possibly him- or herself.

In Greek mythology, Actor was the father of Menoetius and Astyoche. He was king of Opus in Locris. [Wikipedia]


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ACTING: Method & BioMX

If indeed we believe that acting is reacting, we have tostart with actor's reactions to space. It's not just a set or a prop, it's the STAGED REALITY. Inluding, yes, the public. No, it doesn't have to be direct (Brecht), but the stage must be seen as modum where they, the spectators, "act."

What does this ReAction (to the audience) mean?

You act in line and against the spectator's expectations (rememebr the word "play"), they, the public, were there first. They already were directed (watch) and now you enter THEIR world. Think how much of the build-up before Hamlet actually enters the stage! Think about the public as your partner, the lead, you know that you have to react to your partner's lines. Yes, they asked those questions already, they came to theatre because of it, they only look silent.

This "4th Wall" concept could be confusing. It was intended for realism ("like in real life") and against bad acting, when the public is the one and only actor's address (like in opera). Stanislavsky understood that the right address on stage can be used by the public for a stronger dramatic impact. When you address the audience directly, the identification with the character is a geopardy (Brecht based his Epic Theatre theory of this principle, when actor and spectator become "themselves" again, breaking away from the staged reality). In our century's drama "apart" method is gone. We don't have to tell our sofisticated public anything (pretending that the rest on stage do not notice it). Even once popular voice-over in movies is used not very often. We don't want our spectator to be back, where we started, we worked so hard to make him a CENTER OF DRAMA.

There is another way to think about PreActing. Think of exposition you need to establish with your entrance on stage. I tell my students: don't rush! Don't go for your "objective" in the scene, unless I met your character. Without know your character I can't know your objective -- present the character!

Glossary
Remember, the aim is first, not action!

PreActing is the aim. Remember, we are not together at first, actors and spectators, and only when we are together we have drama. Your aim in the scene must be mine too! Your aim is my (spectator) interest!

Call it co-acting.

Did you notice that I haven't mentioned other actor's yet? I consider the relations on stage SECONDARY and with the public -- PRIMARY connections.

Everything I said about your character and your acting equaly applies to all on stage. Often actors complain that their partners do not GIVE -- but they don't give, because they don't get it -- they do not take it from the ppublic!

I'm working on "SpectActor" book to explain that the publci is that dramatic engine of the show. The audience is the true space of any drama. Theatre begins and ends with the public.

Unlike Stanislavsky, Meyerhold was dealing with the street crowd public, theatrically illiterate and he tried to develop the most powerful tools to turn them in PUBLIC. What is the most powelful? The movement. Here is biomechanics for you! We react to movement mechanically, my friends.

Without repeating the basic 4-Steps cycle, please, go and see ACT Page. Meyerhold believed that every movement on stage must be choreographed, because every change on stage is MESSAGE. We do need to bring theory into acting business as long as actors can't compose the stage sentences. If they don't, they should glance through the pages of "BioMX Theory fo Actors" -- it might help.

Everything in acting is about movement: emotional changes -- and therefore changes physical. They can be small or big, but they are always there. Actor's choices MUST be made. Or they will be made for you, if you work with good director or good actors. No choices means bad performance. Without MOVEMENT you have no "texts"!

I call it Actor's Text (Performance). Stanislavsky called it "Role"! You "write" those texts in time and space. Out of the "empty space" and time, you create YOUR chronotope where your character becomes your ROLE. Do you see the difference between Character and Role? Shakespeare wrote character of Hamlet, you have to write your OWN by using the text of "Hamlet."

You need to learn how to "read" acting texts, if you you want to compose them. The study of "signs" is called semiotics. In method acting it is known as subtext, the actual meaning behind the lines. Biomechanics were developed in reaction to Stanislavsky's System and everything that the method of psychological realism has to offer is EXTENDED to the next level in BioMX. The choices are big and definite! That is why BioMX is so suitable for comedy.

PRE-ACTING Meyerhold used to emphasize the action before any spoken line. How important it is you can see in bad acting: the gesture follows the text -- that is an illustration. Good acting is to set a situation for your line; we anticipate the words, we wait, we want to hear... and only then actor delivers!

First principle: be audible.

Second -- 80% feeling, 20% technique and devices.

... Make the emotion big enough to act with.

Seagull
Above: Stanislavsky as Trigorin (Moscow Art Theatre, Seagull by Anton Chekhov). Chekhov loved him as an actor, not as a director.

Stanislavsky
Method2002
: From Inside Out

"How does an actor act? ... How can the actor learn to inspire himself? What can he do to impel himself toward that necessary yet maddeningly elusive creative mood? These were the simple, awesome riddles Stanislavksi dedicated his life to exploring. Where and how to 'seek those roads into the secret sources of inspiration must serve as the fundamental life problem of every true actor' ... If the ability to receive the creative mood in its full measure is given to the genius by nature", Stanislavski wondered, "then perhaps ordinary people may reach a like state after a great deal of hard work with themselves - not in its full measure, but at least in part." - A Method to Their Madness: The History of the Actors Studio
^
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/-1-\
/---2---\
/----3----\
/-----4-----\
/------5------\
/-------x-------\
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"Iceberg" model (character = role = actor)
Lesson #
60 or 90 min
overview:

1. review (previous class)

2. overview

3. new key terms & definitions

4. monologues & scenes

5. issues & topics

6. questions, discussion, analysis

7. in class work

8. feedback

9. improv & games

10. reading

11. homework

12. online, journals

13. quiz

Links

paperwork

Chekhov Pages
chekhov.us

Class Project (after the midterm)

playsChekhov, Ibsen, Shakespeare

Actingland.com - Acting resources, career guides, and casting information.

* new : teatr.us

ReadSpeaker AudioFeed - Podcast of this blog

PS

Walk-BM

Homework

Your choice of material can be unusual and startling, but then you go at the acting obeying all the best principles of acting.

NB

Affective memory is a reliving of past experiences - likes and dislikes - when an analogous situation recurs. Something that has brought pain is anticipated with dislike the second time. The dislike, which is felt immediately, rather then remembered, is like a residue of previous appraisals. Affective memory may be linked directly to the memory of a traumatic experience, as the same situation or a similar one recurs, or to an experience that bears little apparent relation to the original, if the memory has been repressed. Of course, an experience need not necessarily be traumatic to leave an affective memory. The concept of affective memory has found a place in several schools of psychology, including the Freudian and the Pavlovian, though different explanations have been offered (compare M.B. Arnold, "Human Emotion and Action," in Human Action, ed. by T. Michel, 1969 p.173).

The concept embraces both sense memory and emotional memory. The latter term was used by Stanislavsky in his later work to refer to the experiences of an intense and explosive nature that are so necessary for the most dramatic moments in the theatre. The concept of affective memory is essential to an understanding of how the actor functions and the faculties that have to be trained to develop his talent. It is unusually sensitive affective memory that enables the actor to respond to events that must be imagined on the stage and to repeat performances. This point was stressed by Stanislavsky's great pupil Yevgeny Vakhtangov, who emphasized that literal emotion - emotion that derives from the presence of an object that actually stimulates it - cannot be controlled and cannot be relied upon to provide the level of response that is required in every performance. [Strendberg ]


new: Method + Biomechanics @ act.vtheatre.net
"You'd think is something one would grow out of. But you grow into it. The more you do, the more you realize how painfully easy it is to be lousy and how very difficult to be good." Glenda Jackson
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... No punctuation in speech. No commas, no periods. This is how they "act"...

SPEECH TEMPO-RHYTHM
Letters, syllables, words--these are the musical notes of speech, out of which to fashion measures, arias, whole symphonies. There is good reason to describe beautiful speech as musical.

Words spoken with resonance and sweep are more affecting. In speech as in music there is a great difference between a phrase enunciated in whole, quarter or sixteenth notes, or with triplets or quintuplets thrown in. . . . In the first instance there is calm, in the second nervousness, agitation.

Many actors who are careless of speech, inattentive to words, pronounce them with such thoughtless slipshod speed, without putting any endings on them, that they end up with completely mutilated, half spoken phrases.

In proper and beautiful speech there should not be any of these manifestations, except where a change of tempo-rhythm is called for on purpose for the characterisation of a part.

Our difficulty lies in the fact that many actors lack a well-rounded training in two important elements of speech; on the one side there is smoothness, resonance, fluency, and on the other, rapidity, lightness, clarity, crispness in the pronounciation of words.

To achieve stately, slow speech we need first of all to replace silent pauses with sonorous cadences, the sustained singing tone of the words.

It will help you to read aloud very slowly to the timing of a metronome, if you are careful to preserve the smooth flow of words in rhythmic measures and also if you provide yourselves with the right inner basis for your exercise.

A clear-cut rhythm of speech facilitates rhythmic sensibility and the opposite is also true: the rhythm of sensations experienced helps to produce clear speech. Of course, all this occurs in the cases where the precision of speech is thoroughly based on inner, suggested circumstances and the "magic if."

Poetry arouses different emotions because of its different form from prose. But the converse is also true. Poetry has another form because we sense its subtext in a different way.

One of the main differences between spoken prose and verse forms lies in their having different temporhythms, in the fact that their measures differ in their influence on our sensations, memories, our emotions. . . . Even if we do not understand the meaning of words their sounds affect us through their temporhythms. . . . Think . . . of verses in which temporhythm paints sound pictures, such as the ringing of bells or the clatter of horses' hooves.

There is an indissoluble interdependence, interaction and bond between tempo-rhythm and feeling and, conversely, between feeling and tempo-rhythm. . . . The correctly established tempo-rhythm of a play or a role, can of itself, intuitively (on occasion automatically) take hold of the feelings of an actor and arouse in him a true sense of living his part.

The direct effect on our mind is achieved by the words, the text, the thought, which arouse consideration. Our will is directly affected by the super-objective, by other objectives, by a through line of action. Our feelings are directly worked upon by temporhythm.

Where does this lead us? To the inescapable conclusion offered us by the wide possibility inherent in our psycho-technique, namely that we possess a direct, immediate means to stimulate every one of our inner motive forces.
--Building a Character

[ dict. in filmplus.org/a/dict.html ]


SENSE OF TRUTH ON THE STAGE
A sense of truth is the best stimulus to emotion, imagination, creativeness. . . .

At the base of every art is a reaching out for artistic truth. The actor must believe in everything that takes place on the stage and most of all . . . in what he himself is doing and one can believe only in the truth. . . .

There is no such thing as actuality on the stage. Art is the product of the imagination, as the work of a dramatist should be. The aim of the actor should be to turn the play into a theatrical reality. . . . Everything must be real in the imaginary life of an actor.

Scenic truth is not like truth in life; it is peculiar to itself. . . . We are not concerned with the actual naturalistic existence of what surrounds us on the stage, the reality of the material world. This is of use to us only in so far as it supplies a general background for our feelings. . . . What counts . . . is not the material out of which Othello's dagger is made, be it steel or cardboard, but the inner feeling of the actor who can justify his suicide . . . [as] if the circumstances and conditions . . . were real. . . . It is necessary for the actor to develop to the highest degree his imagination, a childlike naïveté, . . . an artistic sensitivity to truth . . . in his soul, and body.
--An Actor Prepares --My Life in Art Lijit Search
2006 by vtheatre.net. Permission to link to this site is granted. books.google.com + scholar.google.com Acting2 chekhov pages index


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