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Steve Wood
 DRA 111

   Tragedy developed from
   religious festivals
   honoring Dionysus, the
   god of wine and the
   grape vine.
   These festivals
   celebrated Dionysus as
   the sacrificial bleeding
   god who is slaughtered
   and then is magically
                  Cycle of Life

 These festivals were a celebration of the cycle of
  life-death-rebirth. Just as the grape vine is cut
  back to insure next year’s harvest, these festivals
  came to celebrate sacrifice and rebirth.
 Dionysus was also associated with goats, some
  believing that the term “dithyramb,” the hymn
  honoring Dionysus, originally meant “goat-

In 534 BC, Thespis stepped out of the chorus
  (the nucleus from which tragedy
  developed) and began to act out the story
  being told. Thus, narrative (telling a
  story) became drama (enacting a story) for
  the first time.

The term for this first actor was “protagonist.”
  The name of this first actor, Thespis, of course,
  is where we get the term “thespian.”

According to some legends, Thespis became a
  ghost upon his death and continues to haunt
  dramatic productions, imparting lessons of
  humility to actors and directors.
Denis Diderot and the Paradox
        of the Actor
               Denis Diderot, best
                known for his
                Encyclopedia, defined
                the paradox of the
                actor. He said that, in
                order for an actor to
                seem natural, he must
                act artificial.
         A Definition of Acting

 Actors select physical and emotional
  responses in the search for selected behavior
  pertinent to a character’s needs within the
  given circumstances of the play.
         Three Bases of Acting

 Physical imitation
 Emotional recall
 Textual understanding
             Stage vs. Film Acting

 Stage acting relies on an    Film acting is a more
  exaggeration of voice,        subtle art, often relying on
  reaction and gesture in       physical responses that
  order to be seen by the       cannot be seen on stage.
  audience.                    Films are almost never shot
 Stage acting is done in       in sequence, and the time it
  continuity, and thus the      takes to set up shots insures
  stage actor maintains a       a lengthy wait between
  certain flow, which helps     scenes. Film actors have to
  with concentration.           maintain focus despite this.
             Stage vs. Film Acting

 Stage acting does not allow    Film acting affords actors
  for retakes. As they say,       the opportunity to shoot a
  the show must go on.            scene more than once.
 Stage acting is in front of    Film acting does not have
                                  the energy of an audience
  an audience, which allows       to affect the performance.
  the actor to feed off the       Often the crew, while
  energy of the audience,         present, do not pay
  assuming that the               attention to the actors
  performance is well-            much because they are
  received.                       paying attention to their
                                  own job.
            Stage vs. Film Acting

 Stage acting often         Film acting depends on
  allows actors a greater     actors hitting a
  range of movement,          particular mark and
  which is ironic given       being able to deliver
                              lines in the midst of
  the limitation of the       camera, microphones
  stage itself.               and crew (all the while
                              pretending they don’t
Mimetic vs. Anti-mimetic
            While acting strives to
             create truth, not all
             actors create
             performances that seem
             realistic. Mimetic
             acting is when actors
             strive to create
             characters who are like
             “real” people.
Mimetic vs. Anti-mimetic
            Anti-mimetic acting is
             when actors create
             performances that
             don’t remind us of the
             people around us.
            This is a choice of
             acting style; it is not a
             matter of being a good
    External vs. Internal Technique

 External technique is      Internal technique is
  the traditional approach    generally a twentieth
  to acting.                  century approach to
 It involves working
                             Internal technique
  from the outside – in.      involves working from
  As an actor once said,      the inside – out. The
  “I build the house first,   actor attempts to
  then live in it.”           become the character.
Stanislavski’s Method

           Konstantin Stanislavski
            (1863-1938) is
            generally credited with
            inventing the internal
           His “Method Acting”
            is one of the most
            popular approaches to
            internal technique.
                 Method Acting

 Method actors first attempt to enter the world of the
  play or film by learning as much as possible about
  that world.
 They then study the text (the script).
 They practice emotional recall.
 They use the “magic if.” NOT: If I were Kane,
  what would I do? BUT: If I(being Kane) were in a
  situation like this, how would I respond?
          Robert De Niro

Copland     Raging Bull   Taxi Driver

              The Untouchables

                Cape Fear 
              Misc. Acting Terms

 Casting Call: A call for actors for a particular film
 Audition: A tryout for actors
 Screen Test: An on film audition
 SAG: Screen Actors Guild, the union for film
 AEA: Actors Equity Association, the union for
  professional live theater actors
 Instrument: The body and voice of the actor

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