Wednesday, June 20, 2007

ON ACTING: Don't Play 'Attitude'

I watched a scene in class. The two actors involved were exhibiting only one vocal quality each throughout the scene. I accused them of playing "ATTITUDE; that is....presenting pre-determined and pre-set emotional or positions vis-a-vis one another throughout the scene. Not trying to convince one another with their dialogue and their emotions; but rather content with their chosen static (and I would argue, safe) emotional pre-determinations..with the result that because of that lack of interdependent focus and involvement, there were no changing tactics, no changing voices (not to mention of the other physical apparatus such as bodies and faces). There was no variety. And no variety equals less audience interest.

(I must admit to a prejudice: ne note played throughout anything gets quickly, repetitiously boring. Even the great Yo-Yo Ma would disappoint me if he played one note over and over again for three minutes!)

The movement of our outer bodies (which include our external apparatus of arms, legs, faces and voices) reflect the movement (neural circuiting) of our inner bodies. (This inner activity we often call 'feelings', or emotions.) If we limit our inner feelings during a scene to one pre-determined thing (or attitude), our outer bodies, including voice, mono-chromatically manifest that singular emotional impulse. As a corollary, if we wish to create a wide ranging, and I would argue a more interesting, series of vocal patterns in a scene, the actor must allow himself to be made to feel a more wide ranging set of emotional impulses throughout the scene. And this will only happen in a good acting (real) fashion, if the actor is truly engaged in scene-conflict with the other actor, actively attempting to change that other actor's/character's position in the scene...and be thereby receiving the varied stimuli that that interdependent engagement will invariably throw off from both actors. They will both be automatically feeling different things, and will be altering their outer mechanisms of body and voice to reflect those inner changes. Inner tactics will change; resultant outer tactics will change; the voices and bodies of the actors will manifest those changes. The performance will become more varied and more interesting.

After receiving input, the two actors in class did the scene again... absent their pre-set "attitudes". This time through they engaged in real, ongoing, moment-to-moment scene negotiation vis-a-vis one another, thereby received a series of multi-varied stimuli from one another, were thereby stimulated emotionally in more wide ranging ways. And their bodies and voices replicated those varied changes...much to the audiences' and their own (and their teacher's) delight.


Blogger Myles said...

I was guilty of this acting crime this weekend. Thanks for pointing it out to me.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Cliff Osmond said...

You're welcome.
And, as always, good to see you and work with you agan.

11:24 PM  

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