"Acting is a question of absorbing other people's personalities and adding some of your own experience." - Paul Newman
Be in front of the text, not behind it!
What is "your" character in "The Importance of Being Earnest"?
No, no, I haven't forgot the title, but I want directors to experience the actor's world... Maybe "Directing for Actors" could be better?
Look, I struggled for a while, where should place Biomechanics (BM): before or after Method. Since BM focuses on comedy, I decided that it easy after the Acting One to go into physical theatre (BM). And here is the problem; like everything else BM severa levels (should I say -- fundamentals, intermediate, advanced?) and therefore I sort of expect that after reading BM pages, you know about topics like "Actor and Space, Actor and Time, Chronotope" -- and I don't have to talk about it again here. Well, if you don't, go there and read.
SummaryTHE ACTOR'S APPROACH TO HIS ROLE: Stanislavsky suggested that the actor, in approaching his work on a scene ask himself four questions: (1) who he is (character), (2) where he is (place), (3) what he is doing there (action and intention), and (4) what happened before he came there (given circumstances). The answers to these questions provide the actor with the necessary background for his performance, helping him to create the scene. In approaching the play in its entirety, the actor must subject his role to more intense analysis: he must search for the spine, or the kernel, of the play as well as its division into separate sections or units of actions. He must discern the beats of the play (i.e., the smallest units of dramatic action into which each role can be divided) as well as the rhythms of the play as a whole. He must determine what adjustments must be made in his performance for each of the other characters. For some plays an additional element is necessary: the overall mood, or pervading texture, that surrounds the play or out of which the play stems. The attempt to determine it, however, may lead to an excess of verbal and mental gymnastics that are of little actual value, unless the actors have been trained in the proper procedures. The actors must act out the elements involved in the analysis in order to receive any concrete benefit from it; otherwise it may remain superficial or merely intellectual. [ Strasberg ]
QuestionsSense memory: in Method acting, when an actor attempts to recall memories of the physical sensations surrounding prior emotions in order to utilize emotional memory. Fourth wall: an imaginary surface at the edge of the stage through with the audience watches a performance.
NotesAttempt the impossible in order to improve your work. ~ Bette Davis Motivation: a character's individual desires or goals which propel them into action; the driving force that starts a story's progression.
At Work with Grotowski on Physical Actions by Thomas Richards; Routledge, 1995
Check Books page and read the pages in the textbook "Actor on Acting" (take notes, review before the test). Read before your class, read ahead!
MoveEvery time when in Acting One they come with the monolgue from Shakespeare, I shock the students with the question -- do you understand that you have to struggle with the greatest master of drama? Do you understand that you have to overpower the genius? Do you understand that his words will be fighting your acting? Do you see how much is written in that even a mediocre actor ctill convey the message? Do you realise how much you have to do for me to forget the Shakespeare and see your YOUR character? What a task!
Yes, this is much easier to get a monolgue from some movie, especially a character close to you. It's all right, we are in class, our main goal is YOU! Actor in you! We will get to the fight with the titans later...
How do we get there?
First, realisation that we leave the world of the page and your imagination and getting on stage and entering the world of my, spectator, imagination. Understand of was done for us, actors, before us... the script analysis. You relations with the script are the same as relationships with your partners (on stage and in the house): give and take. You can't give anything withou taking! Take from the character and give back -- and you got the role! [Sport analogy: you can't throw the ball before you got it!]
The great plays offer you the greatest characters. Since I use the classic drama in class, I say, trust me, trust Chekhov, the character is there, it's proven, trust yourself -- and we will get it out! If you did your homework, if you know how to take apart the text -- you are half way through.... Because no matter how bad is your acting, it's never really bad -- people understand your character, they follow the changes, the drama, conflict, evolution of emotions... Take it easy. We will enhance it later; it's called character development, building a role... Actor's Text = Performace... something didn't exist before you came in front of me....
Here is again the simple and radical formula of the Method Acting:
I = CharacterOf course, I am not Hamlet, but I am playing Hamlet is! The role of Hamlet I am playing becomes "Hamlet" for my audience...
Now, back to our WWWilde. I know the character Ms. Prism and this my knowledge, understanding and imagination... Now, I want to see yours! Be aware: we have to show me what I didn't know and didn't see! What do you know about her? Do you see her? Do you see how she drinks her tee?...
In order for to create the role you have to extremely specific! How old is she? You know how old you are, your mother... why don't you know Ms. Prism's birthday? Try the emotional improvization -- she was born on Christmas (she would have diffrent sense of herself)... on the first day of the year? Easther? And so on. Don't forget the comedy; because you have make reaction to her age bigger! When did she have sex last time? Is she virgin?... Don't you think it's important? Will it be important for you? I hope so. Give your character the intesity of the real life, if indeed you want me to believe that she real.... Now, how to express it, to make visible -- characterization is visualization (physicalization).
Take a scene between Prism and Cecily (Act II, scene 1): they are both are virgin and Prism is very interested in romance (more than Cecily), her reaction must be big, giggling, like two girl-friends in the bedroom.... And suddenly she recalls who she is -- here we go: the conflict! Great! Two faces of Prism! Go for her monologues, see when she is switching from one to another, why, how....
Check the test pages!
Do your homework!
Do you want to see how to do it?
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"Let someone explain to me why the violinist who plays in an orchestra on the tenth violin must daily perform hour-long exercises or lose his power to play? Why does the dancer work daily over every muscle in his body? Why do the painter, the sculptor, the writer praqctice their art each day and count that day lost when they do not work? And why may dramatic artist do nothing, spend his day in coffee houses and hope for the gift (of inspiration) in the evening? Enough. Is this an art when its priests speak like amateurs? There is no art that does not demand virtuosity."Oh, I have an answer for Mr. Stanislavsky. You see, sir, many, very many actors do not KNOW how to do what this musician does. They do not know WHAT they have to do for hours every day.
ASTROFF: Look here! That is a map of our country as it was fifty years ago. The green tints, both dark and light, represent forests. Half the map, as you see, is covered with it. Where the green is striped with red the forests were inhabited by elk and wild goats. Here on this lake, lived great flocks of swans and geese and ducks; as the old men say, there was a power of birds of every kind. Now they have vanished like a cloud. Beside the hamlets and villages, you see, I have dotted down here and there the various settlements, farms, hermit's caves, and water-mills. This country carried a great many cattle and horses, as you can see by the quantity of blue paint. For instance, see how thickly it lies in this part; there were great herds of them here, an average of three horses to every house. [A pause.] Now, look lower down. This is the country as it was twenty-five years ago. Only a third of the map is green now with forests. There are no goats left and no elk. The blue paint is lighter, and so on, and so on. Now we come to the third part; our country as it appears today. We still see spots of green, but not much. The elk, the swans, the black-cock have disappeared. It is, on the whole, the picture of a regular and slow decline which it will evidently only take about ten or fifteen more years to complete. You may perhaps object that it is the march of progress, that the old order must give place to the new, and you might be right if roads had been run through these ruined woods, or if factories and schools had taken their place. The people then would have become better educated and healthier and richer, but as it is, we have nothing of the sort. We have the same swamps and mosquitoes; the same disease and want; the typhoid, the diptheria, the burning villages. We are confronted by the degradation of our country, brought on by the fierce struggle for existence of the human race. It is the consequence of the ignorance and unconsciousness of starving, shivering, sick humanity that, to save its children, instinctively snatches at everything that can warm it and still its hunger. So it destroys everything it can lay its hands on, without a thought for the morrow. And almost everything has gone, and nothing has been created to take its place. [Coldly.] But I see by your face that I am not interesting you.[ Uncle Vanya ]