Monday, July 16, 2012

ON ACTING: The Shared Experience

At the core of acting are a series of transferred feelings: the actor's and the audience's. The actor transfers his/her feelings outward through their performances, encasing them in their personal in their voices and words, their body movements, their faces and their gestures. Then the audience picks up on those outer expressions, and has their own emotional systems thereby activated.

Watching a performance is an experience in self-identification and shared humanity. "Oh," the audience says, in effect, in watching and hearing an actor act. "I recognize myself in you. We are alike, aren't we? I may not be a great lover, like your character, or a killer, or a man or a woman. But your characterization, when reduced to it's simplest sounds and sights, shapes and form, makes me you."

Acting becomes the same experience as the author Pat Conroy says about reading a novel: "finding out we are not alone."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

ON ACTING: General Thoughts

There are three major performance chores for any exciting actor: to create a performance that is (1) emotional honest (the actor truly lives the scene), and (2) logical to the contents of the script (in acting terms, we call both these criteria being "real") and (3) to create a "real" performance that is exciting (audiences come to the theater to be lifted beyond reality. They seek a reality that is memorably exciting (the task of the working actor).

Living reality (theatrical or every day) is exciting when it exhibits emotional  intensity and profundity; and when that heightened emotional reality is artistically structured and elegantly moulded and shared, those latter qualities only serve to enhance the overall performance effect.

Exciting human beings (in theater or in everyday life) exhibit several other  fundamental qualities: they are goal oriented, and as they pursue their goals courageously to other human beings (in acting terms, they pursue their goals through the other 'characters' in the scene).

To be an exciting actor is also bottom line to be (generally to have learned to be) an exciting person-one who exhibits an many of the personal qualities noted above as possible--and when acting the exciting actor exhibits them on demand, in front of people, and without being inhibited by the requirements saying just these words, moving physically just where the director suggests, and handling the artifacts of the scene (the props).

To manifest the the above acting skills better than more of your competitors is 99% of the time the product of learning, and experienced effort. There is an old--but still insightful adage: To be excellent at any task requires the focused effort of ten thousand hours of effort. 'Don't cheat the gift,' as they say (of becoming an exciting actor; believe me, its in you) by just dreaming of success and not working toward it.

I advise actors to leave the house today and become an acting 'gym rat.'

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

ON ACTING: A life, onstage or off, without an obective, is a boring life.


Why is an objective (goal, intention, arc, aim) important for a character to have in any scene, short or long, or whole work?

Objectives energize people, and hence actors-as-characters. A life (or performance) without a goal is formless, unfocused and random. Yes, I know that one could argue that all life is random. But I would argue in return: (1) random life is very boring; (2) moreover, the statement that 'all life is random' is an untrue statement, at least from my perspective. Life may seem random to someone else's perspective, but I would argue that at that person's unconscious, unrealizable core--if they are alive--they are about something purposeful: that is, fundamentally, their own survival. Their heart beats to enable them to stay alive; their blood flows to enable them to stay alive; they have eyes to enable them to stay alive (to see danger coming...). Once all these physical elements cease their purposeful functioning, the body is dead.

So is a performance without a goal, or objective.

Trust me. I seen tens of thousands of them--the one's without an objective--and they have all been boring.