Monday, August 17, 2009

ON ACTING: A Basic Model of Human (Actor) Behavior

Human beings (and therefore characters in drama and actors in general) can be operationally defined as purposeful entities that have the capacity pursuant to their purposes to sense (hear, see, touch, taste and smell) the world, the ability to convert those sensory experiences into inner synaptic pieces of meaning (emotions), and then transform inner emotions into outer logical motor responses (actions) aimed at achieving their purposes. It is really the operation of thebasic nerve-cell configuration: 'stimulus, synapse and response' organized around purpose.

An 'actor-as-character’ becomes (1) a purposeful entity that (2) sees, hears, touches, tastes and smells the world through which it moves, (3) converts those sensory readings into feelings (4) and allows those feelings to energize him/herself outward into purposeful actions (dialogue, movement, 'prop'-activity...all to achieve purpose.

In acting, we traditionally call the variables in this formula: committing to objective, looking and listening (sensing the world), feeling (allowing the conversion of those stimuli into inner energies or emotions), and actions, which are the energies transferred outward toward the achievement of the objective.

Dramatic conflict then becomes two or more characters involving themselves in an extended series of these fundamental nerve cell interactions, a continuing and mutually interactive flow of received stimuli, synapses, and outer responses, respectively aimed toward each character fulfilling the his/her mutually exclusive, respective goals.


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