GOOD ACTING VS GREAT ACTING
Months ago I came across a well known celebrity “singer/actor” , after exchanging a few “friendly” words our discussion came to a halt and an argument appeared that went like this :
Is it you the actor (personality) playing or a character ? Someone different from you? Is it always you? Maybe Different possibilities of you that compose a fictional character? And how about biographical characters , Is that again just you ? Or do you have to embody something else, and in the process create something absolutely new?
The actor/singer believed strongly that it is always him because his possibilities as he claimed were “Endless” . HE as a human being, possesses all the emotions a Man can have inside him ( true), and that’s more than enough .He if he wanted to, can become angry , desperate , happy, joyful , or fall in love .
So if he can feel all these things like any character does , he has no need for “transformation” for character ,Nope!!! It is him all the time.
At this point please let me say that this celebrity topped our argument with spewing in my face his strong beliefs in the “new age thought hype stuff” . The “undeniable” law of attraction, the “endless possibilities and capabilities” of the mind that we all have , the “we only use 10% of our brains shit”. He believed that if he was to “will it” he could be what ever he liked as himself .Why on earth would he want to transform into something different?
Lets stop here for one second and take a breather …Mmm yes , You know that big fat lie that some people believe in? : the 10 percent of our brain shit? (so many people recite that and I’ve had enough ) and other bullshit like that ?
Lets be clear about something here , if you have endless capabilities and not just imaginary ones…(imagination is fine, we love imagination, imagination is our friend , imagination though not delusion !). ..If you can supposedly become a genius like Einstein or be someone like Pasteur just because you “will it” 1 . If you can actually find the cure for cancer and save millions of lives anytime you like, but your “conscious” choice to serve the human kind was acting . Then I am afraid you are being an asshole! You f**ing Muppet !
Stop it right now and go save people !I am not kidding!
People go to a Tony Robins type seminar, walk on stupid hot coals or bend an iron rod with their necks and that’s it? ,boom!! they are convinced they can do anything? Sorry for messing with your sacred cow but
You can’t!! And that’s fine ! We are imperfect and that’s fine also! Let me burst another bubble of stupidity by saying that working hard and making it, is not really true…surprised? You only get to hear the stories of those who make it , not the millions who don’t . Don’t get me wrong I am not saying don’t work hard , but you do it for the love of the profession,(check out my article about the stoics) .While I am at it , there is no such thing as meritocracy in the world . You don’t believe me ? Well then just go and ask an immigrant and see what she or he says about the subject !
Enough with the hype and enough with stupidity!
Can Somebody muffle Oprah with some gaffer tape please !?!?!?
(As for Oprah and the law of attraction it is true that it has brought her (or maybe her money did) the protagonist role in the Movies that she so longed for , but it has not made her a better actress, that needs hard work not wishful thinking !)
Ranting …i am ranting ok…ok i am back
So artistically speaking it is my conviction that “without the transformation of the — You — there is no art , just exhibitionism” , I am always referring at the art form of acting, I am not talking about other performing arts or different kind of performers like M. Abramovich were exhibitionism becomes part of the whole point.
Alas the minute i said “i beg to differ” the celebrity got so angry ! he wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say , that was it! He said “he is all that he needs to be”, “he is whole” no need for anything else! To be honest I do believe he is…whole that is. What I couldn’t make him understand (his new age positive thinking was not helping and neither was my bewilderment on his convictions) was something completely different. I never said that he was lacking something, what I tried to say was that he was looking at things from a certain perspective, and mind you, not a very creative one .
That brings us to the subject of GOOD ACTING VS GREAT ACTING!
Allow me to:
- Mention a few names here and there and to try and explain different kinds of acting schools or “thoughts of acting” in a very (very) superficial way , i am not writing a book I am writing an article, so I will just caress the surface .Then I will try to show how a simple saying about “the hare and the owl”can make a difference when you use the classic Acting question “as if” or “what if” correctly (most people don’t). changing it from “what if it was me, what would I do?” most personality actors ask this question to “what if I was him, how would I behave?”a character actor question!
- We will look into Meryl Streep one of the greatest character actresses that ever lived . Has she told all “truth” about what she thinks acting actually is?.It is my opinion that her “Holistic” acting truth has not been well represented by one of her most Googled quotes about acting. A quote that most people keep using when they talk about her acting technique .
- I will also try to explain why the Americans have been taking a tiny beating in acting lately, by the Brits and it is not just that sexy accent. (ok it may as well be the accent but never mind)
- why sometimes character actors with supporting roles , like Geoffrey Rush , have more “Acting freedom” than leading actors who just carry themselves from role to role,
- Before i let you go i will ask you to decide if Daniel Day-Lewis is a method actor after all !(the fact is he never called him self one, but people keep calling him that ).
- and last but not least what acting teachers should do, but conveniently keep forgetting .
Plus a small conclusion at the end and a small very small note by the brilliant Mr David Thomson…
Ok …I am about to piss sooooo many people off! Good ,Here we go…
Names from both sides of the fence
Being you (personality acting) vs character (characterization/transformation)
…..and many many other great teachers that have influenced acting!
Some of these Great teachers were in disagreement . Can we assume that any of these historical figures got it wrong?
And before I take sides let me say this : I have been incorporating the Meisner Technique (Meisner was on the side of the fence with the “it is always you” ) in my classes for years now and I honestly do believe it is one of the best tools for an actor, but a tool not a RULE, it is just a tool.2
Art is subjective and as such there is room for many theories and many practices . Here I will state my point of view and add a few of what I believe are undeniable truths about the art and craft of acting . –And before you start barking let me explain what I mean by “truths” — As i said art is subjective , art exists in between , in the space of opposites, in the space of uncertainty and that’s the beauty of it .But for you to be able to live in that space, to live in art , you have to first understand the craftsmanship of the art form you are pursuing, and in that craftsmanship we have to find some agreeable terms , some “truths” — that will define and separate creator from creation just for a little while.That will give us enough time to examine the WHEN the creator has actually achieved the creation and the HOW the creator did it . Thus we insert craft into art, we are making certain the creation was not “a whim” or a lucky “fluke” made by the creator, but something the creator can recreate on demand , we might say this is the moment were professionalism enters the scene of performing arts .
A word of caution please don’t attach known actors with known acting teachers as their representatives of their acting method or of the multiple “results” they gave us in acting roles.You will be doing a grave mistake , most great actors have in fact studied with most great teachers in different times, that’s what great actors do .
- Study, find all the good teachers and study with them, get involved in acting to act, not to be famous or for the money. Do plays. It’s not worth it if you are just in it for the money. You have to love it. Philip Seymour Hoffman For example . Marilyn Monroe had Paula Strasberg and Lee on her side for years, but did you know she was so eager to learn, that she also studied next to Michael Chekhov? (I think so did Paula Strasberg but don’t quote me on that.) Another case is Marlon Brando and Lee strasberg with the latter trying to rub some of Marlon’s fame on himself BUT it is a fact that Marlon came out saying that he never studied next to Lee and that he hated the Man , he studied next to Stella Adler
Ranting ..ranting …..ok…ok….
So let me start with M . CHEKHOV
Who is Michael Chekhov ?
Well according to Vakhtangov and Stanislavsky he was one of the greatest actors they had , and the one that actually understood, what they were talking about!
To honor this great actor and teacher we will start from his talk to American actors in 1955 ,were he talked about “transformation” or “characterization” .
In his talk he referred to transformation as the “inner need” of any talented actor and during his talk he addressed the leading actors that are usually overtaken by their own character and their own qualities ,resulting with them [the leading actors] carrying themselves from role to role without changing anything. (Stella Adler also talks about actors that play themselves, she warns them, that in the Great Plays, the written characters are usually “bigger” than they are. Sometimes just being themselves is not enough .) — Chekhov goes on and compares that kind of Actors or Actresses with the painter that only paints a self portrait all the time!
It is my belief that what Chekhov was calling “transformation”, “characterization” — Great acting, is what we should be now calling Holistic acting. So It is never “you” and it is never just a facade of a “character”, there a third option, an amalgam, a creation : ART .
Lets talk about different types of acting schools or ways of thought :
Roughly there are three types3
- Inside — out acting — psychology, actions , script analysis, objectives , living the strong emotions of the character !
(most people consider this the American school of acting , they think, that’s “the method” as in “the Actor’s Studio” — “the actor studio” to be exact was different people saying sometimes different things from Robert Lewis to Stella Adler to Meisner to Lee Strasberg we are talking about different p.o.v’s and that’s the beauty of it if you ask me — most people call this the American contribution to the art form of acting But it is not that simple, historically everything always starts and ends up back to Stanislavsky)
- Outside-in acting — Body, voice, costume, hair, diction etc.
(most people believe that’s the British way of acting and some people think that this is the contribution of the Brits to the acting art form or at least part of it — to be honest the Brits do have the Bard on their side -William Shakespeare — so they know a thing or two about language and style so we have to give them that — not that simple again this starts and ends up back to Stanislavsky)
And then we have the “emoting” acting technique
Not a school I know , but something everybody uses but they never say so — based in my opinion on something very scientific (Alba emoting) that psychologists are actually finding out now but actors knew since the beginning of time. — emoting is a technique for awaking the desired emotion through body posture, breath and the facial muscles, and not through the thinking brain. Seasoned actors do it, New actors do it, nobody is talking about it and most people (even if they don’ t admit it ) use it but dismiss it as trickery.
Thus a Trifecta !
So Using only ONE of these schools or techniques because of fanaticism or dedication to one way of thinking actually makes you a lesser actor than what you could be and that is very, very sad .As an artist you must try to be holistic and that’s what differentiates the just “Good acting” — a talented actor using only one type of acting thinking or approach or just his personality — and “Great acting” — all three types in one to create a character and a repeatable result !In a way Good acting is just bringing your “goods/personality” to the table and doing what is being asked of you. On the other hand Great acting is a marriage between you and the character creating something new every time and I mean every single time !
But part of the trouble starts very early :
Actors ask questions that’s what we do , but the most misused question is the “as if” or “what if” question. Most actors use the wrong syntax or the wrong reason for asking this specific question . Some actors use the “what if” question as it should be used .And the real use is to evaluate a situation, for apprehension of the circumstances (a fine question indeed for script analysis, but not for understanding all the attributes of a character you are about to play) They ask “what if it was me what would I feel? what would I do? “ and unfortunately they end up using it as an acting tool not an analysis tool.
We don’t really care what “you” would do, especially not when we are talking about roles in the grandeur of Hamlet, The great Bard told us what “you — Hamlet feels”, what “you-Hamlet does”, thus the “what if” question with this syntax becomes a comprehension tool, a tool of understanding the true weight of a situation and not an acting tool as to how to create a character — how to behave — what kinds of thoughts to have, or what archetype of a character your character might be .
Lets see how the question should be addressed: from “what if it was me?” to “what if I was him” , And to make things a little bit more complicated (that’s how I like it) lets work on the known saying : “the eyes of the hare are different from that of the owl’s”
Using our imagination lets suppose we are the “actor hare” trying to play the “character owl”, the phrase implies that we are something absolutely different from the owl, both physically and as personalities. The actor hare wants to play the owl in the theater, so reads the play and finds out that the character-owl is : Wise, Brave and Hungry in the forest, but afraid that it is not going to find food for its younglings . So The actor — hare asks “what if it was me? What if I was in the owl’s situation? what would I do?”by the way please Go ahead tell me I am comparing two different species and then please bring me two humans that are not different species !!!!
What we have with this type of a syntax is a Hare that is just trying to bring its fluffy ears into an owl’s life. Maybe, just maybe if the hare-actor is smart enough ,it will search for the bravery part inside it and maybe the “hunger” and the “fear” part as a circumstance, but most “hare actors” will forget or dismiss that the “owl character” has a specific physicality . The owl can actually see in the dark plus it is wise, different brain and different way of thinking you see!!.
Wait …..is this an “aha I got you” moment was the actor -singer onto somathing with all the new age stuff?well Keep reading Einstein …..
So the hare only gets that the feathered pet of wisdom feels hungry and it is brave and so can the hare .They have this “hunger-bravery” thing in common , they connect emotionally and somewhat psychologically ! Good! Lets keep that in our bag and move on! lets change the question a little bit , and also lets use the biggest tool the Actor-hare has, it’s imagination.
The hare asks now “what if I was the owl ? how would I behave?”.
Does the hare now see in the dark ? Are the hares brain waves changed? Of course not, there is no such thing , but now the hare understands the attributes of the character of the owl or at least acknowledges they have important differences . The hare can make subtle changes using its imagination on characterization ,not only psychological but physiological also. The actor- hare can start “acting like” it can see in the dark and try to imagine what it means to be wise it can always keep the hunger-bravery feeling they have in common and change it’s behavior now according to the whole of the character dynamics ! Sometimes the owl’s behavior and attributes are something that is so beyond our personality and our own behavior , our own way of thinking and our own physicality that it might never, even cross our minds if we just ask “what if it were me?”.It would be so wrong to just bring you, we need both ! If your imagination is only used “internally” you will only use you, instead use your imagination “Holistically” when you think of the character, get it ? I am not playing verbal judo here . What I am saying is that YOUR accent , YOUR mumbling and YOUR mannerisms will not do for Higher acting, it is fine sometimes and it can even be good acting in some occasions, but it will be never enough for “Great acting”.
Great acting needs creative imagination, not only for substitutions for objectives or for “behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances”4 but for Transformation, for an imaginary body, for different patterns of thinking and even for a different imaginary brain!
As for the new age stuff let me give you a Magic word of my own : IMAGINARY!
You can’t just restrict us with your self , you have to Imagine the differences and not just the similarities between you and the character, the similarities will take care of themselves later on. You have to find your imaginary differences in a fictional character or the actual differences in a biographical character. You have to be open and leave space for the characters attributes not just your own .
And now just a little …name dropping ….. Ryan Gosling … A very good actor yes ? Honestly I do believe he is! But is he a Great actor? Well I have never seen him do anything else than the silent cool looking guy! Is that ok? Yes it is fine, if he is ok with it. But after a while it gets boring to be honest !
….Enters stage left “Meryl” and her famous quote:
“Acting is not about being someone different.
It's finding the similarity in what is apparently different,
then finding myself in there.”
I love this quote and I would agree with her but she is being a little simplistic , plus I don’t think she is giving us her secret recipe (off course she is not , it just a quote)
lets take a look on how Meryl asks the “what if” question from another of her amazing quotes :
“I am curious about other people that's the essence of my acting .
I am interested in what it would be like to be you”
lets see why Meryl will never actually reveal all her acting secrets from her talk in Princeton University:
When it comes to understanding how she creates a character, Streep said, "I have been
smug and willfully ignorant. I've cultivated a deliberate reluctance to investigate my
own method of working because I'm afraid of killing the goose. I'm afraid if I parse i
t I won't be able to do it anymore."
I am letting you think on your own that’s why I will just keep on the quoting stuff , ok?
This time from the book “Anatomy of an actor”, lets see how she engulfs different acting schools of thought :
“I had three different acting teachers for each year (at Yale) but it was good , in a
way , because you understood how he did it , and how she did it , and how he did it,
and (could) make up your own way"
it is a fact that one of those teachers was Robert Lewis, one of the co — founders of the actors studio, which became synonymous with method acting and techniques like emotional recall. At Yale Streep bristled at such exercises, feeling the professors :
“delved into personal lives in a way I found obnoxious”
Streep has frequently asserted that her approach to acting is a whatever works mishmash of the many styles and philosophies she learned in graduate school, a vague and mystical process she can’t articulate :
“I 've always thought of acting as that disappearing act, always”
And lets see what she reveals when she talks about critics :
“[……] most of them (the critics) even the most sophisticated — are swept away by whether it’s a character they like or dislike. They confuse the dancer with the dance. With my work , they get stuck into the auto mechanics of it — the most obvious stuff , like what’s under the hood. They mention the accent or the hair — as if it’s something I’ve laid on that doesn’t have anything to do with the character [……….] the news is that most of the great practitioners of the art of acting know exactly what they are doing; even in the best , most successful moments, when they let go of the awareness of what they are doing, they still somewhere deep inside their body, know what they’re doing. There is a craft.”
So is she an inside-out actress ? Well Yes she is ! She is not just working the auto mechanics as she calls them — the accent or the hair — these are part of a whole!
But before you run into any conclusions lets see what does Meryl think about the outside-in that most actors of the inside-out school of thought ignore as superficial :
[…..] Streep used on occasion to salute a previously unsung hero of her career, her hair and makeup artist J.Roy Helland
“Roy has worked with me since my first play in New York more than 35 years ago” Streep said “[….] he (Roy Helland) has designed every woman — and one man, in angels of America –that I’ve played ever since then”
Streep described Helland as her closest collaborator when it comes to the process of character creation.
“He’s always, always with me” she has said “and he understands the job and changing the outside to get at something inside” .
Let me repeat that : “and he understands the job and changing the outside to get at something inside” most actors tend to snob and dismiss that , And THEY ARE DEAD WRONG!
That’s it! Make up you own mind.But this is a woman who goes from the inside-out to the outside-in to emoting -Yes my darlings emoting, she can do a thousand takes- in no time and in my opinion works in a holistic way! She knows the craft!!!!!
Why the Brits are kicking ass years now !
That is easy to answer, the “method” school invested so much , so much into being natural — realistic, into finding their inner expression, finding and being themselves that mumbling and picking noses became the main theme, instead of just a part of the way some people behave. The actor became the work of art per se, when it should be that the work of art is the actors work on the creation of the character (it is certainly not just the expression of raw emotion that matches that of the written character ). Character acting , use of transformation and characterization (internal and external) in other words CREATION was dismissed as Chameleonism and Impersonation — not real enough– as if actors were indicating. The “Method” suggestion was that actors should comprehend the situation that the written character was in ,and then use themselves with true emotion and true Re-action thus ensuring Feelings and availability . (That is good,don’t get me wrong)
But the Brits on the other hand already knew style acting, high comedy and transformation and as major craft lovers they already used “emoting” to be able to wash, rinse and repeat every night! So when they incorporated the “American” way into their acting , they didn’t refuse their acting heritage they just inserted more realism and naturalism into “style”, thus creating something that had more gravitas!
– Actors especially in acting classes in LA never get to work on classical pieces ,they never get to play Greek tragedies or work on plays by William Shakespeare , and these are plays and characters bigger than life.They mostly work on scenes from movies or series , LA is cinema and series oriented. An actor that has not tried to play bigger characters than himself and has not applied him or her self into roles of true weight (and yes failed !) will never be able to complete his or her training .
Supporting actors and acting Freedom
I know many young lead actors get type-cast, especially in this crazed media age .They get “appearances first” picked and are not really appreciated for their acting skills or for the way they might be able to approach a character .They are not allowed the whole arsenal of acting tools on their disposal when creating a character. Supporting actors on the other hand even though they are the second or the third name in a movie or in the theater, actually have more freedom to create, to bring their own ideas. Ideas they can actually get past the production executives or the director, and use as bold choices for a character .
“I was never a leading man. I’ve always been in the outer concentric circles in the company, being a character actor, which is a good place to be. It gives you that diversity.”
“Actors that I’ve liked over the years, not all of them would play a lot of diverse roles. But they’d have diverse interests in the roles that they played and liked literate things .Like Burt lancaster wasn’t really a chameleon , but he played serious movies , comedies , acrobatic movies. I loved him as a performer . But if you look at Brando he really was a character actor because he played all different kinds of parts and he was a real actor . To me I’ve played leads, done cameos and supporting roles .It doesn’t matter to me . I’m happy; I wouldn’t want to lead in everything .It’s not the most creative way to live to always have to carry something. For years Bob [De Niro] just did little parts, he was always doing supporting roles . What’s the big deal I don’t get it . To me it’s kind of fun , like the the Big Lebowski …The actors I’ve always liked play many different characters. Sometimes it gets boring watching the same guy do the same lead role .”
It is true that very few Pretty-face lead actors and actresses out there get to truly play with characterization and transformation on fictional characters (there are exceptions especially in the inevitable case of a biographical character were you get a freedom for transformation and that has been rewarded for years now.Can you imagine why? ) lead actors most of the times don’t get to truly transform or to go about freely with what ever their artistic instinct tells them to do. Unfortunately they end up being “personality actors” ! Their personality becomes a brand! That it is fine for someone that just chasing stardom but it is not fine for someone that is trying to find art form !
There are actors that have managed to break that rule : Johny Depp, Christian Bale, Jared Leto, Jake Gyllenhaal just to name a few and don’t think for a minute that this phenomena of “creation blocking” applies only to pretty actors or actresses , oh no! Go ahead watch most comedy actors and with very few exceptions , you will see them doing the exact same thing , their personae has become a product , and they sell it here and there!
A phenomena of our days and a great example is “the Matthew McConaughey effect”, people ask surprised what did he do ? what changed in his acting!?
Simple , after so many years as a pretty face and a personality actor , he decided to become a “holistic approach” actor , he transformed him self into a character.Becoming someone different ! The funny thing is he seems to have fallen into a stoop again.HE has clinged onto this NEW character he created (This is undeniably easy to happen , actors feel a mesmerizing sensation of great revelation ,freedom and security when they manage to truly create something and they want to keep that feeling for ever) and now he is repeating this successful creation over and over again , like his old pretty face self .The result is the mutation of the “new character” into a “new persona” that the actor is now taking from role to role.
“Bad habits are hard to break. Characterization and transformation should be the never ending job of the actor, it is his inner calling”
Most acting teachers , say there is only YOU , nothing else , and they will try to expose and work with this You .Your inner self , you inner fears , you strong emotions and their expression, talking about “truth’ and throwing that word in your face as an acting “direction” .Exposure in that sense is and should be just an exercise (and not necessarily one that you have to undertake unless you acting teacher is a licensed therapist ).The use of these exercises is and should be private, exercises like that are there just for the actor to map and find limits and inner capacities so he or she can work on them ,they are TOOLS , not A WAY to create .
There is a thing called “the Mask” in acting, that’s the MASK OF THE CHARACTER!. An actor that is not wearing one is never, EVER , totally free to reveal something about his own inner self, it sounds counter-intuitive I know, but to be able to reveal you inner fears, insecurities, wants , needs and shadows, you have to feel safe and to feel safe on stage in front of an audience or in front of a camera , you have to have the mask on, the mask of the character, anything else, I will say it again, it is just exhibitionism not an art form period!
Daniel Day-Lewis stays in character all the time, is he a method actor?
“I am told that people find it strange that I do the work the way I do it , but then I think, ‘well. Yes, but the work is inherently strange’. Were’ re spending the better part of our lives pretending to be other people. Stranger From my point of view is to have the capacity to jump in and out [of a character] , which some people undeniably have. I’m kind of in awe of those people.”
The so called “strange” thing this Great actor does, the staying in character all the time part , is not a Strasbergian “method” thing but an unbelievably amazing way to keep the characterization /transformation alive inside him!
Do you still believe than an actor like Daniel Day Lewis is “JUST a method” actor or a holistic actor that uses everything from psychology, physiology to emoting (Yes emoting this man can do a thousand takes) to get to the character in complete transformation?
I will let you decide on your own!
What acting teachers should do but keep forgetting
Acting teachers should always keep on acting themselves!
Even if we don’t have another or we don’t need another vocation but just our acting class. We should never, ever, forget what it means to be an actor, what it takes, it is very easy to forget, acting teachers must energize them selves. Never stick to one method or technique try out new and different things, we would be doing a great disservice to our students and fellow actors if we just gave them one way or if we just “directed” them to end results.! As Acting teachers if we are not willing to get exposed into real work out there , we should at least take classes our selves ,that’s bravery for you right there, something we demand from our actors, or create a group with our fellow actors (same age group ? People we know? Who cares! ) to work on a few things, keeping our acting spirit alive .
So is it you the actor ? Or the character? It is both!It is something NEW!!!
What does it take to go from good acting to great acting ? People might think that I am suggesting an actor should concentrate on an arsenal of fake noses or wigs , actors might get confused by the word transformation, but transformation is not only external it is also internal ,a transformation should work in every level , psychological,physiological and emotional. Neither one of those transformations should be neglected . Most actors get trained to just be themselves ,express their feelings and communicate,be available. GOOD ,these are all very important skills ,but not enough,Acting is not just Reacting I am sorry! And acting is by no means believing (unless you are crazy ) it is accepting .
Acting is one of the most complicated art forms out there !
With imagination being our main weapon , actors should be able to transform ,to become different characters by being able to combine character attributes with their own, not just carry their persona from role to role .Smart actors and very well trained actors must be able to recognize the style of acting that is requested by them, and weave their transformation accordingly .Stella Adler said “talent is in the choices an actor makes” and I believe that , I also believe that an actor should be able to recognize what is fundamentally human — in different styles and forms — and to be able to trim down the grotesque or to elevate inside him the nearly non existent — internal and external — transformations and so to create a new human being!
Finally (I know, I know one more page..) acting, is indeed a craft , it is a creation, it is an amalgam , it is art
There is no “just you” but “Through you”
sometimes the “just you” part is just not enough , big enough or even, good enough, and you know what ?
IT IS FINE!Its is ok….
Also Acting It is not just the facade of a written character ,cause that would mean theater would be just a book club, where the audience would be given a book and they would read and imagine the character for themselves. Great acting demands a creation, and to do so the actor must be willing to take the responsibility of one .
This is a bigger risk and it is more terrifying than you thing. This is your creation ,your work of art we are talking about, not just you!It sounds strange but your “creation” is in reality the so longed for “exposure” everybody is talking about !Is the painter more terrified about what they think about him “through his art work” or what they think about him as “him” as he is just standing there?
“It is only through art , through creating that we really get exposed , that’s when people really get to know us and get to see the choices that we have made!”
Mere exhibitionism of the self and of your personality will not cut it, it is just good enough for drama therapy , or for a few characters that match the actors idiosyncrasy’s but it has nothing to do with “creating” and has nothing to do with the art form and
the craft of Acting!
One last note for those courageous enough to keep reading Taken from the book “why acting matters” by David Thomson :
“[……..]It was possible for Olivier skeptics to sigh over his black face(othelo), his Ali Baba’s cavern of new voices, and the great collection of noses from which, notoriously, he began many of his roles. Those attributes seem to expose Olivier the pretender, the helpless devotee of makeup and mock-up, the actor who could never resist any challenge to his versatility. In the first great fame of the Method — in the years after Streetcar until about the end of the 1950s — it was possible for Strasbergians to make an Olivier seem not just mercurial or versatile but ungrounded, or uninterested in substance. So it was the alleged realism, the emotional actuality and the integrity, of Brando’s Stanley and then his Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront that became banners for the Actors Studio.
But then see what happened with Brando: he was a paraplegic in The Men; he was a biker rebel in The Wild One; he was a Mexican in Viva Zapata!; he was a punch-drunk boxer in On the Waterfront; he was Olivier-like as Marc Antony in Julius Caesar; he was Napoleon in Désirée; he sang and danced as Sky Master-son in Guys and Dolls; he was a comic Okinawan in Teahouse of the August Moon and a blond German officer in The Young Lions — where, truth be told, his accent was not as credible as Olivier’s in Marathon Man. Brando had no paralysis: he does not really seem like a stricken man in The Men; he looks like a hero pretending to be an invalid. He studied paraplegia; he went to stay in a veterans’ hospital; he did all the research he could to understand the experience of war’s victims. He was not French or Okinawan or German or Mexican. In all those roles he used makeup — noses sometimes; he altered his hair and he found a new voice. And he seemed entertained by the idea of taking on ever-wilder challenges, even if sometimes — as in Désirée — you can see and feel his dismay over the poor scripts and note the first signs of his famous inwardness turning towards disillusion and contempt. If there is a vital difference between Brando and Olivier, it is in the fact that Olivier never yielded to that contempt, to its eventual self-loathing, or to a fatigue with pretending.”
Till my next ® Rants on acting love and peace