* 2007 : FOCUS : Character into Role : characterization, physicalization, visualization, vocalization [ 3+ levels, icluding film as "+" ] : dictionary { "4 Zs" -- masterclass? ebook? Total Actor Files? }

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2009 Theatre LUL School
topics : film acting * pre-acting * subtext * theatre theory * plays *

System wikipedia


general: 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5

* Stanislavsky on Stanislavsky Terminology *

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film analysis

Aristotle (Poetics) : 6 Elements/Principles

Structure :

1. Plot

2. Character

3. Thought

Texture :

4. Language

5. Music

6. Spectacle

Method Acting index * 200X * Film Dir * Books * Theatre w/Anatoly * SHOWs * Script Analysis * Acting * Directing * Russian-American Theatre (RAT) * Film Links * My Russian Plays * BioMechanics * Classes Dir * VIRTUAL THEATRE * appendix * links * list * Glossary * Anatoly's Blog *

Acting area(s) designated stage spots for actor's different emotions.
Position(s) on stage designed by the actor's performance for different emotional states.

Action Dramatic motion in subjective space and time.

Acting Styles A particular manner of acting which reflects cultural and historical influences.

Actor "a performer who developed in himself the art of inner and outer mimicry and incarnation" (Richard Boleslavsky on Stanislavsky System). Initiator, leader and organizer of the material (the actor and medium are one and the same thing). (Biomechanics)

Actor's Text Actor's performance; broken down dramatic text, with ground plan, positions, acting areas, stage directions written in by the performer.

Alienation effect A stage technique developed by Bertold Brecht in the 1920s and 1930s for "estranging" the action of the play. By making characters and their action seem alien, separate from actors. Three ways of establishing A-effect: third person reference to yourself, and songs.

Aristotle Greek philosopher (384-322 b.c.), first drama critic, The Poetics.

Audience Public, second actor's ego is made up of those who witness the event through dramatic (emotional, intellectual) participation.

Beat: The smallest division of action in a play. The length of time necessary for a character to play an "Objective" (also called "Intention") from beginning to end.

Biomechanics Theatre system of performance and training developed by Meyerhold. The technique emphasized the movement on stage, the study of preparation for a certain action: emotional and physical state of the moment of action itself: and the resulting anti-climax of reaction (see Cycle).

Blocking The placement and movement of actors in a dramatic presentation.

Brecht, Bertold German director and playwright (1898-1956), inventor of methods and theories of non-realistic theatre.

Character a functional "person" appearing in a play or other work of fiction; role as portrayed by an actor or actress.

Character analysis A description of one's understanding of a character.

Characterization The process of developing and portraying a character.

Climax Dramatic decisive turning point of the action, the highest moment of conflict.

Catharsis: According to Aristotle, as interpreted by Freud and Lacan, catharsis (as found, for example, in the tragedies of Sophocles) produces a pleasurable calm by exciting the emotions, homeopathically one might say.

Comedy a drama with a happy ending or nontragic theme (see situation comedy and comedy of characters).

Complications a build up segment after the exposition.

Composition an arrangement of the parts to form a unified, harmonious whole.

Conflict clash of opposite impulses, collision, fight, struggle.

Constructivism Constructivist theatre resisted the use of representational sets, using more abstruct "constructions" on stage.

Context includes the political, social, historical, psychological, institutional, and aesthetic factors that shape the way we understand the performance event.

Contra-Text Meyerhold's definition of an extreme sub-text.

Contrast Dynamic use of movement/stillness, sound/silence and light/darkness.

Cycle three-step acting sequence in Biomechanics (Aim, Action, Release, Stop).

Demonstration Describing "A-Effect," Brecht urged his actors to "demonstrate" the roles they played, rather than identifying with them in the mode of Stanislavsky System. Acting-as-demonstration keeps the audience aware of both the actor and the character at the same time.

Directing Assuming overall responsibility for the artistic interpretation and presentation of a dramatic work.

Director's book The planning book developed by a director to guide the development of a dramatic presentation, including interpretative notations, schedules, scene breakdowns, preliminary blocking, etc.

Drama a literary composition, usually in dialogue form, that centers on the actions of charcters.

Emotional memory Stanislavsky's term, describing an actor's "work on himself" in acting. The actor tries to connect the character's situation with important events in his own life. This emotional connection can make the character's display of emotion on stage seem realistic and immediate. (see Identification).

Epic Theatre Erwin Piscator's term, theorized by Brecht; epic theater uses episodic dramatic action, non-representational staging to demonstrate the political and social factors of characters.

Episodes Parts of the whole drama work. A series of events which may be sporadically or irregularly occurring.

Event segment of dramatic action with three-step structure. (Exposition--Climax--Resolution).

Exposition First part of a play (or action), which establishes the character(s), conflict, situation, style, genre, etc.

External Composition changes between actor's acting cycles.

Floor plan a ground plan with actor's major positions and movement.

Fourth-wall The style of realist theatre since the late nineteenth century, in which the stage is treated as a room with one wall missing. The audience is not acknowledged or addressed by the actors.

Futurism an art movement opposed traditionalism and sought to depict dynamuc movement by eliminating conventional form and by atressing the speed, flux, and violence of the machine age.

Genre Literary "kind" or "type" refers to comedy or tragedy (or various combinations of two; drama, farce, etc.)

Given circumstances Stanislavsky's term, describing the situation of a character(s) at the scene, which actor must construct in his exposition.

Imagination creates things that can be or can happen. . . . Every movement you make on the stage, every word you speak, is the result of the right life of your imagination.

The creative process starts with the imaginative invention of a poet, a writer, the director of the play, the actor, the scene designer, and others in the production, so the first in order should be imagination.

If imagination plays such an important part in an actor's work, what can he do if he lacks it? He must develop it or else leave the stage. . . . It all depends on what kind of an imagination you have. . . . The kind that has initiative . . . will work . . . untiringly, whether you are awake or asleep. Then there is the kind that lacks initiative, but is easily aroused. . . . Observation of the nature of gifted people does disclose to us a way to control the emotion needed in a part. This way lies through the action of the imagination which to a far greater degree is subject to the effect of conscious will. We cannot directly act on our emotions, but we can prod our creative fantasy and [it] stirs up our emotion or affective memory, calling up from its secret depths, beyond the reach of consciousness, elements of already experienced emotions, and re-groups them to correspond with the images which arise in us. . . . That is why a creative fantasy is a fundamental, absolutely necessary gift for an actor.

There are various aspects of the life of the imagination. . . . We can use our inner eye to see all sorts of visual images, living creatures, human faces, their features, landscapes, the material world of objects, settings and so forth. With our inner ear we can hear all sorts of melodies, voices, intonations and so forth. We can feel things in imagination at the prompting of our sensation and emotion memory.

There are actors of things seen and actors of things heard. The first are gifted with an especially fine inner vision and the second with sensitive inner hearing. For the first type, to which I myself belong, the easiest way to create an imaginary life is with the help of visual images. For the second type it is the image of sound that helps.

We can cherish all these visual, audible, or other images; we can enjoy them passively . . . be the audience of our own dreams. Or we can take an active part in those dreams.

Every invention of the actor's imagination must be thoroughly worked out. . . . It must be able to answer all the questions (when, where, why, how) that he asks himself when he is driving his inventive faculties on to make a more and more definite picture of a make-believe existence.

[The actor] must feel the challenge physically as well as intellectually because the imagination . . . can reflexively affect our physical nature and make it act. . . . Not a step should be taken on the stage without the cooperation of your imagination. --An Actor Prepares
--Building a Character * Stanislavsky

Improvisation [1]method of rehearsals, [2]method of training and [3]method of performance. Improvisation -- any unscripted work in drama.

Inner Conflict Emotional disturbance resulting from a clash of opposing impulses or from an inability to reconcile contradictions with realist or moral considerations, a fight or struggle "selves" within one-self.

Inner gesture a motion expressing a certain emotion.

Inner monologue a text developed by the actor (scream of conscience) in order to have a subtext.

Interpretation actor's choices.

Internal Composition a structure within one acting cycle.

Level(s) on stage (space) or vocal to establish the range of action.

The approach we have chosen--the art of living a part--[asserts] that the main factor in any form of creativeness is the life of a human spirit, that of the actor and his part, their joint feelings and subconscious creation. . . . What we hold in highest regard are impressions made on our emotions, which leave a lifelong mark on the spectator and transform actors into real, living beings. . . . Aside from the fact that it opens up avenues for inspiration, living a part helps the artist to carry out one of his main objectives. His job is not to present merely the external life of his character. He must fit his own human qualities to the life of this other person, and pour into it all of his own soul. . . . An artist takes the best that is in him and carries it over on the stage. The form will vary according to the necessities of the play, but the human emotions of the artist will remain alive, and they cannot be replaced by anything else.

Therefore, no matter how much you act, how many parts you take, you should never allow yourself any exception to the rule of using your own feelings. Salvini said: "The great actor . . . should feel the thing he is portraying . . . not only once or twice while he is studying his part, but to a greater or lesser degree every time he plays it, no matter whether it is the first or thousandth time."

Always act in your own person. You can never get away from yourself. The moment you lose yourself on the stage marks the departure from truly living your part and the beginning of exaggerated, false acting. Spiritual realism, truth of artistic feelings . . . these are the most difficult (achievements) of our art, they require long, arduous inner preparation.

The difference between my art and that [practiced by others] is the difference between "seeming" and "being."' --An Actor Prepares
--Building a Character * Stanislavsky

Melodrama a genre with an opposition between good and evil, in which good prevails.

Master gesture a physical icon representing character's traits.

Method American equivalent of Stanislavsky System.

Meyerhold Russian-Soviet director (1874-1942), see Biomechanics.

Mise-en-scene "The putting on stage" of a play, including the setting, scenery, direction, and acting (blocking).

Modernism the general trend in the methods, styles, and philosophy of artists involving a break with the traditions of the past and a serach for new modes of expression. (See post-modern).

Monologue a part of a play in which one character speaks alone; soliloquy. Monologue is a piece of oral or written literature (e.g., a story, poem or part of a play) spoken by one person who exposes inner thoughts and provides insights into his or her character.

Naturalism emphasizes the role of society, history, and personality in determining the actions of its characters, usually expressed as a conflict between the characters and their environment.

Objective being the aim or goal.

OBJECTIVES Life, people, circumstances . . . constantly put up barriers. . . . Each of these barriers presents us with the objective of getting through it. The division of a play into units, to study its structure, has one purpose. . . . There is another, far more important, inner reason. At the heart of every unit lies a creative objective. . . . Every object must carry in itself the germs of action. . . . You should not try to express the meaning of your objective in terms of a noun . . . but . . . always employ a verb. . . . [e.g. "I wish" or "I wish to do--"] This objective engenders outbursts of desires for the purposes of creative aspiration. . . . It is important that an actor's objectives be in accordance with his capacities. . . . At first it is better to choose simple physical but attractive objectives. . . . Every physical objective will contain something of a psychological objective, they are indissolubly bound together. . . . Do not try too hard to define the dividing line, . . . go by your feelings always tipping the scales slightly in favour of the physical. . . . The right execution of a physical objective will help to create a right psychological state.

An actor should know how to distinguish among the qualities of objectives, avoiding the irrelevant ones and establishing those appropriate to his part. Appropriate objectives must be on our side of the footlights: personal yet analogous to those of the character portrayed; truthful so that you yourself, the actors playing with you and your audience, can believe in their clear-cut [purpose]. They must be distinctly woven into the fabric of your part; active . . . [to] push your role ahead and not let it stagnate. Let me warn you against . . . purely motor [objectives] which are prevalent in the theatre and lead to mechanical performance. --An Actor Prepares
--Creating a Role

OBSERVATION An actor should be observant not only on the stage but also in real life. He should concentrate with all is being on whatever attracts his attention. . . . There are people gifted by nature with powers of observation. . . . When you hear such people talk you are struck by the amount that an unobservant person misses. . . . Average people have no conception of how to observe the facial expression, the look of the eye, the tone of the voice, in order to comprehend the state of mind of the persons with whom they talk. . . . If they could do this . . . their creative work would be immeasurably richer, finer and deeper. This . . . calls for a tremendous amount of work, time, desire to succeed, and systematic practice.

How can we teach unobservant people to notice what nature and life are trying to show them? First of all they must be taught to look at, listen to, and to hear what is beautiful. Such habits elevate their minds and arouse feelings which will leave deep traces in their emotion memories. Nothing in life is more beautiful than nature, and it should be the object of constant observation. . . . Take a little flower, or a petal from it, or a spider web, or a design made by frost on the window pane. Try to express in words what it is in these things that gives pleasure. Such an effort causes you to observe the object more closely, more effectively . . . and do not shun the darker side of nature. . . . Disfigurement often . . . sets off beauty. . . . Search out both beauty and its opposite, and define them, learn to know and see them. . . . Next turn to what the human race has produced in art, literature, music. --An Actor Prepares

We use the word super-objective to characterize the essential idea, the core, which provided the impetus for the writing of a play. . . . In a play the whole stream of individual minor objectives, all the imaginative thoughts, feelings and actions of an actor should converge to carry out this super-objective. . . . Also this impetus toward the super-objective must be continuous throughout the whole play.

You cannot reach the super-objective by means of your . . . mind. The super-objective requires complete surrender, passionate desire, unequivocal action.

The most powerful stimuli to subconscious creativeness . . . are the through line of action and the superobjective . . . they are the principal factors in art. --An Actor Prepares
--Creating a Role

Obstacle something which stands in the way of one's progress, that delays or retards progress.

Pre-acting Meyerhold's definition of a performance stage before any acting cycle.

Prompt book A book of the play containing business, blocking, cues and plots needed for dramatic presentation; e.g., director's book, play book, stage manager's book.

Performance A human activity, interactional in nature and involving symbolic forms and live bodies, which constitutes meaning, expressing or affirming individual and cultural values, meaning "to complete" or "to carry out thoroughly," execution, accomplishment, fulfillment; show. The performance event is the embodiment or enactment of the text--usually a collaborative endeavor involving one or more performers, text, audience, context.

Plot The sequence of events in a play, differs from the "story," which encompasses earlier events (multi-plot stories).

PLOT There are plays (inferior comedies, melodramas, vaudeville, revues, farces) where the external plot is the mainspring of the action. The high points are the facts of a murder, a death, a wedding, the dumping of flour or water on one of the characters. . . . In other plays the plot as such has little significance. . . . In such plays it is not the facts but the relationship of the characters to them that constitutes the centre of interest. In such plays facts are needed only to the extent that they provide motivation and opportunity for the actors to express their inner content. Chekhov's plays are in this category. The best thing is when form and content are in complete harmony. There the life of a human spirit in a part is inseparable from the facts of the plot. . . . Let the actor learn by heart and write down the existing facts, their sequence and their external physical connection with one another. . . . With growing experience of the play and its contents this method helps not only to pick out the facts and orient oneself in relation to them but also to get at that inner substance, their interrelationships and interdependence. -- Collected Works, Vol. IV Stanislavsky

Post-modernism is generally characterized by stylistic "quotation," an invocation and disengagement from history and the fragmentation of artistic surface.

Properties set and props.

Realism a theatrical practice valuing direct imitation, concerned with psychological motives, the 'iiner reality," and less committed to achieving a superficial verisimilitude.

Resolution Last part of a play, in which the act or dramatic process breaks into resolving previous conflict and determines as to future action.

Role a part, or character, that an actor creates in a performance. Role is the basic ingredient of work in drama. When the actors assume roles in a drama, they are acting "as if" they are someone else.

Scene complete action between more than one actor (and audience).

Scenic unity the practice of harmonizing acting style, costumes, and sets to creat the illusion of a single, unified environment on the stage.

Stagemetrics system developed by Meyerhold to measure space and time on stage.

Script The text of a dramatic work.

Script Analysis The critical interpretation of a script for the purpose of achieving an understanding of it.

Self, selves a single, autonomous being seeing as a unity of multiple selves within any individual person (see Inner Conflict).

Set design A visual representation of the form and arrangement of scenery and properties.

Scenery and properties, all the externals of a production, are of value only in so far as they enhance the expressiveness of the dramatic action, the acting. . . . Light and sound play an important part in our inner lives: twilight, a mist, or a sunset have an entirely different effect on us from a sunrise. . . . But [on the stage] they are effective only when they are permeated by artistic truth, and are not just everyday, humdrum facts. . . . In other words it is of no matter whether the scenery is conventional, stylized or realistic, . . . we can welcome any setting provided only that it is appropriate. Life is itself so complex and varied that there are not enough kinds of scenic inventiveness to do full justice to all its aspects. . . . The important thing is that the sets and the whole production of a play be convincing . . . to the audience and to the actors. -- Collected Works, Vol. VI

Situation position or condition with regard to circumstances, the combination of circumstances at any given time, a difficult or critical state of affairs; any significant combination of circumstances developing in the course of a play. The objective conditions immediately affecting an individual.

Spectator single member of the audience.

Stage business Small actions performed by an actor without moving from one place to another.

Stage manager's book The planning book developed by a stage manager to facilitate management of a dramatic presentation, including scene breakdowns, entrance and exit cues, lighting plots and cues, sound cues, etc.

Stage movement The purposeful movement of an actor on the stage.

Story a life of a character behind the plot.

Subjective Time sense of time created by actor.

Sub-text the complex of feelings, motives, etc. conceived of by an actor as underlaying the actual words and actions of the character being portrayed; an underlying meaning, theme, etc.

Stanislavsky, Konstantin Russian-Soviet director (1863-1938), founder of Moscow Art Theatre and method of training for psychological realism.

Structure formal systematic arrangements.

Style forms of organizing space and time.

Symbol Something which stands for or represents something else. Broadly defined, dramas and collective creations are symbolic or metaphoric representations of human experience.

Tableau A still image, a frozen moment or "a photograph." It is created by posing still bodies and communicates a living representation of an event, an idea or a feeling.

Tapping-in A means by which those individuals represented in a tableau may be prompted to express their response to that particular moment which is captured in time and space by the tableau. The teacher places a hand on the shoulder of one of the students in role in the tableau and poses questions which are designed to reveal the actor's thinking about the situation represented by the tableau.

Theatre [wikipedia]

Tension The "pressure for response", which can take the form of a challenge, a surprise, a time restraint or the suspense of not knowing. Tension is what works in a drama to impel students to respond and take action and what works in a play to make the audience want to know what happens next.

Text oral, written, gestural, or combination of these, repeatable and capable of having boundaries around it, separating it from other external features.

Theatricality a combination of stage languages used for dramatic, performance events.

Theme A consistent kind of meaning.

Time dramatic (subjective), made out of "real time" by performers.

Verisimilitude refers to the extent to which the drama appears to copy the offstage reality.

Visualization (Physicalization):

Well-made-play a form of drama where the plot usually turns on the revelation of a secret and includes a character who explains and moralizes the action of the play to others; the plot is often relentlessly coincidental.

Writing in role Any written work done in role (for example, monologues, family histories, letters, newspaper headlines, etc.)

Print it out and keep it in your class notebook!

Theatre Terms

AEA: Stage Actors The Actors' Equity Association (www.actorsequity.org), more commonly called just "Equity," has 40,000 members. It represents actors in all live legitimate theatre, both musical and dramatic. Membership is gained by either: 1) accumulating fifty weeks of apprentice work with an accredited acting company, or 2) being cast in a role which requires Equity membership. Equity and SAG have a reciprocal agreement allowing crossovers which permits film actors to work on stage and vice versa. As long as they have been members for a year and have acted in a principal role, they can get membership in the other union with lowered dues. Since there is generally less money involved in stage work, the fees and dues are lower for this union. The initiation fee is $800, and the annual dues are $78. Most members (60%) work on the East Coast, but 30% work in the West and the remaining 8% are members of Equity's Central Region.
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