November 3, 2004

A Discussion of Acting, or Why isn't everyone taking TH1321???

Well, I'd say that my most prominent experience in acting is from taking Fundamentals of Performance this fall; in reading the first article, the discussion of the internal or 'representational' method of acting (Method Acting, imagine that) really reminded me of the things we learn in that class - "it asks the actor to represent all aspects - emotional as well as physical and intellectual - of the character portrayed." This is exactly what Kym is teaching in the Margolis Method. However, a section of Jerzy Grotowski's essay also struck me, when he said that, "The forms of common 'natural' behaviour obscure the truth; we compose a role as a system of signs which demonstrate what is behind the mask of common vision: the dialectics of human behavior... [by] eliminating those elements of 'natural' behavior which obscure pure impulse." One of he objectives of the class, so Kym tells us, is to show how society infuses us with a sort of habitus - to move a certain way, act a certain way. However, actors must strive to find 'neutral,' the innate, child-like way of moving, because, in a world of social conventions, "What is normal is not natural." Actors have to let go of those physicality traits defined by society and move in a way that is natural and efficient, to best express the emotional and intellectual intent behind a character's action.

However, I realize that Fundamentals of Performance isn't the only time I've ever been taught to act, per se. All of the acting I did in high school, for speech in particular, was taught to me using mostly the 'presentational' method. The idea then was, it doesn't really matter what you, as the actor, feel, so long as you can make the audience (in this case, the judge) believe that you are experiencing some emotions. But this wasn't really the best way of looking at acting - and my acting endeavors in high school weren't all that successful, anyway.

Much of the material in these three articles was covered very well by Luverne Siefert and Professor K in lecture. One thing that I found particularly interesting, though, was the second piece (the Stanislevsky?) when it said "Our subconscious is inaccessible to our consciousness. We cannot enter into that realm. If for any reason we do not penetrate into it, then the subconscious becomes conscious and dies." This, in conjunction with the idea of not using a mirror to watch your acting, really seemed to make sense to me. I realize now that I've always hated having to look at myself on film or whatever, I prefer just to have it be a mystery how I appear to my own eyes, and just trust that what I'm doing is good. I guess this is why I'm in theater and not cinema!

One concept I would still like clarified is Grotowski's idea of 'via negativa'. I looked up the meaning of those words, and apparently it's some sort of theory regarding the existance and attributions of God - you can't define it by what he is, but instead by what he isn't. I can sort of see how that might connect to Grotowski's idea of not giving the actor a 'bag of tricks,' so to speak, to perform with, but I still think that there's more in that than I'm getting right now. Grotowski's entire way of looking at acting is very different from what I've seen or heard about before. Of course, the tragedy of acting from textbooks is that you just can't do it. Theatre is not found in books, it's found on the stage, and I think that practical application, or at the very least, demonstation, is called for in learning about these different techniques.

Posted by holm0567 at November 3, 2004 7:38 PM