Monday, July 18, 2005


Actors often get caught 'playing' (acting) style: be it urban, Southern, Shapespearean, classical, etc; in so doing they make the package more important than the gift, the wrapping more important than what's inside the box. Playing 'style' qua style as the totality of character and performance is false acting. Style is an adjective, not a noun. You can't play 'style'; your can only act with (a certain) style. A good actor acts truthfully, with honest emotion, and then allows that truth to be made maninfest in the manner (style) appropriate to time, place, gender, socio-economic class, etc.

The dilemma of style-in-place-of-substance is often eggregiously manifested when actors enact a Shakespearean character. They are so busy playing what they think is Shakespearean style (the style appropriate to people living and acting in late sixteenth and early seventeenth century England) that they forget that Shakepearean characters of the period loved, hated, were frightened, angry and confused just like people today...and they were engaged in the same conflicts and stories that happen today...the only difference being that when those Shakespearean actors-as-characters lived onstage in that true-to-life manner, they did so in an appropriate-to period-gender-class of the turn of the 17th Century English life style.

Actors should realize the emotional and conflictual substance of life and therefore acting has not changed much in the 2500 year human life span since the origins of Western Civilization's drama and acting. Only the style--the clothes, the way of speaking, the way of walking and gesturing--has. But the emotional and conflictual truth...which is at the core of good acting...has remained essentailly the same. So good actors--in any generation, and with any style-- must enact universal truth beneath the particular form. Good actors remember: act truth with style; never act style as a substitute for truth.


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