Saturday, April 30, 2011

ON ACTING: The Central Acting Formulation

Emotion is the central ingredient in the theatrical experience.

The actor in performance must really feel emotion (that is, s/he is made to feel it by the interaction with the other characters); then s/he must be willing to reveal it deeply in public (but in the way that most people reveal deep emotions in life: reluctantly and generally only after lies and denials have failed to contain it).

The audience, perceiving the actor's emotion, empathizes with those emotions, and thereby are made themselves to feel...which is why they paid to be in the presence of actor's in the first place.

Actors transport audiences beyond their own hesitancy.

The formulation is simple: actor's feel; audience's feel...and money changes hand. Simple, no? be remembered: achieving brilliance in the acting craft is a difficult task. Acting itself may be easy, but excellence demands the 'trifecta' of hard work, experience and courage. And it is at that point where the big bucks really come in.

Friday, April 22, 2011

ON ACTING: The Pleasure of it All

To act is not simply to carry out mechanically a pre-designed formulation. Life--which is required to attract and move an audience--doesn't happen that way. True, in any performance, the words are given, the blocking is given, the props may be given and the camera angles set...but within those designated limits, I am free to live, spontaneously and unexpectedly.

Perhaps my character is required to say according to the script "I love you," and the director asks me while saying it to touch the other character's cheek with my right hand, all the while reaching for a gift to proffer them.

All that may be I feel when I say that, the subtle and unexpected variations in possible tone and pitch when I say it, the feel of the silken gift I am picking up with my other hand, the way it modulates in unexpected ways my feelings of love for the other person, the radiance (or fear or tenderness, etc.) in their eyes when I touch them, the unexpected longing they may suddenly feel for me, and I, in turn for them...all before, during and immediately after I say my line, touch the face and give the gift, that, my friend, is my actor's world. That is why I act; to be me--in this case, the full, complex unexpected and spontaneous loving me--within whatever parameters and limitations the script and the director asks.

Boundries do not inhibit me; they free me.

They enable me to love you in a single bed. on the grassy slope of a mountain, in a rainstorm or a desert windstorm. None of it matters...only that I will be free to feel--each time if many times are required--my enormous love for you while I touch your face, say "I love you," and hand you the silken gift.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ON ACTING: The Value of Integrity

I just wrote to an actor (who had disappointed me):

"Maintain [personal and artistic] integrity in your life, my young alone engenders self-respect; and without self-respect, life becomes a series of mounting lies, a cold, dark and endless path filled with increasing isolation."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

ON ACTING: Dialogue...and Actor's Confidence

The following is a note to those of you who are inhibited by the scripted text:

If dialogue were the critical component in a performance, they would have hired the writer to enact the part. S/he knows the words better than anyone.

Words are less important than the person who says them.

Think of it another way. The dress is only as important as the person who wears it to the party. Do you take the dress to the party or the girl who wears it?

Date a dull wearer of a beautiful dress; the dress soon loses it's luster.

Remember: Nobody's ever rushed to bed eager to put on clothes; in fact, they are generally the first thing removed. Same with words: don't let them get in the way!

Think of it like cooking vegetables: Most vegetables are alike (all right; some vegetables are grown better than others...but...) but the key to a good meal is the cooking. Great vegetables in the hands of a lousy cook taste unappetizing; average vegetables prepared by a great cook taste scrumptious. Do you go to an expensive restaurant because of the ingredients? Or do you go because of the way they are cooked...and served?

A great script in the hands (and mouth) of a lousy actor is a lousy performance.
An average script and dialogue in the hands of a great actor sometimes is uo for awards.

They pay great actors large amounts of money because they know how to make even the dullest (scripted) party seem like fun.

What kind of performance party would you like to be invited to: a fancy party attended by all dull people? Or a party thrown at a simple, small suburban home in the dull desert by the ten most exciting people in your town?!

Don't be intimidated by scripts. They are just the vegetables, furniture, dresses of performance: factoids there hoping to cooked, or sat on, or worn by exciting people.

Scripts need us actors more than actors need scripts. If reality TV has done nothing else, it's proven that!! Notice there's no TV show or film that simply lets the script scroll by without actors involved!!!

So, actors:...Don't be intimidated by scripted words. They should be grateful to have confident actors saying them! The reality: you be exciting; the words'll be exciting. You be dull; the greatest words in the world are not going to help you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

ON ACTING: The Path to the Top

The stage, film and TV business is a very, very precarious business. A lot of ambitious people are competing energetically for often very high rewards. Success in tat business is a very, very tall mountain, with a mountaintop (immense respect, popularity and money) hidden high up in the clouds.

The path to the top of that mountain is very, very narrow. Logically enough anyone already on it, at whatever level, is afraid of being knocked off their present perch. Thus anyone in this business who hired you to join them as an actor at their level will be very, very careful that you are not such a clumsy talent that you will do something that will knock them off their perch.

Success seeks demonstrable success; excellence seeks demonstrable excellence; talent seeks demonstrable talent.

Monday, April 04, 2011

ON ACTING: Another Simple Definition of Acting

"Acting is a term actors use when their real emotional life occurs (1) within very narrowly defined parameters of words, movement, and prop-handling (2) on demand, (3) in front of an audience, and (3) with a variety, intensity, pace, and profundity of emotion and elegance of style uncommon in the everyday world."

...from "Acting is Living"

On ACTING: A Simple Definition

"What is primary in acting--what the best actors and actresses have in abundance--is the extraordinary courage and insight to live fully, honestly and intensely in public: (1) to face and accept the deepest truths about themselves and, by extension, of humankind in general, and (2)) be willing to really live out, withing the demands of the script, those truths in a real, exciting manner before an audience."

...from "Acting is Living"