Friday, July 16, 2010

ON ACTING: Poorly.

What is bad acting?

Fundamentally, bad acting is performing a role without real, honest emotional involvement on the part of the actor in the character's portrayed; that is, however abstract or surreal the form and dialogue of the character the actor is being asked to enact, a bad actor acts on stage or on screen AS IF he were really feeling the real emotional life of the character rather than really feeling it.

Bad acting is really a way to avoid emotional truth: The bad actor in performance is saying: “How can I do this (acting the life of the character) without REALLY experiencing any real personal emotional involvement in the life of the character, in the life the scene?”

The answer of course is, if you want to be a good actor: “You can’t.”


Trying to achieve fakery, an attempt to fool the audience into believing emotional truth and involvement is occurring when it really is not, is THE SOURCE OF ALL BAD ACTING HABITS...and the raison d'etre behind good teaching.

For example: a bad actor in class tries to speak the dialogue fast with the real emotional energy, which, in life, is what makes one speak fast, I say "Don't do that." The bad actor tries to enact the character in the scene without really listening to the nuances of the dialogue spoken by the other actor, I say "Don't do that." The actor tries to speak angrily when they are not really angry, I say "Don't do that." And on and on.

Until, finally, when they are convinced that that there is no way around good acting, there is only 'through' it, I show them various emotional (truth telling) methods and techniques they can can practice and impliment so they can accomlish IN REALITY their necessary (for audience involvement) character performance desires; I enable them to wed emotional substance to their desired performance forms.

When I teach good acting I am really teaching actors how not to lie and then how to tell the truth.

Why do actors lie? Why does anyone in life lie? Liars are afraid of the naked reality and power of the truth.

To act the emotions that are often required to excite millions, to really feel those emotions in the first place, to really feel those emotions while saying just these words (the dialogue) and moving just here or just there (the directed movement), to really feel those emotions within the formal constraints of a performance, and then perhaps in front of millions, is fundamentally an act of great courage.

I teach...and greatly admire and appreciate...courage; and my work is structured to help people face the difficulty to attain truth consistently and powerfully over a long career.


Blogger Geraldine said...

That is such a fun question: what is bad acting? Or really, where does bad acting comes from?
As a pianist and vocal coach I am often involved with opera singers, and I often find bad acting in operas. I wonder if it comes from lack of truth, or lack of a sustaining libretto. So many opera songs are just so incredibly repetitive and don't really go far into the character's truth. It would be interesting to see the same actors in some operas with depth and some operas without depth to see how it impacts their abilities (if it does).

1:48 PM  
Blogger Old Man said...

Yours is a wonderful response, Geraldine. I think that opera singers in general do have a difficulty with the truth. We can blame the libretto, with its often lack of sutaining libretto, as you say, but, if by sustaining libretto, you mean direct narrative through-line, Shakespeare, too, often breaks up his direct narrative and yet many actors (although I admit, not as many as I would like) find a level of true acting. As relates to your second point, the often repetetive nature of opera keeping singers from getting to the truth, opera singers should look at repetition as "emotional release that is unfulfilled, therefore requiring--as in aria--a repetetive sustained effort".

3:15 PM  

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