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Acting

Rick Lyman, in his obituary for The New York Times, put it this way: "In film acting, there is before Brando, and there is after Brando. And they are like different planets." *

...

I have to start another (seventh) page on film acting. The previous ones do not cover movie actors (nothing on acting in this Film Analysis directory).

Film Acting: Eisenstein vs. Pudovkin (two original concepts) * "Model" (Eisenstein) vs. Professional Actor

Your favorite actor/actress: do you know the secrets?

Robert De Niro: "One of the things about acting is it allows you to live other people's lives without having to pay the price. I've never been one of those actors who has touted myself as a fascinating human being. I had to decide early on whether I was to be an actor or a personality."

Film&Movies
Robert Redford: "A lot of what acting is paying attention."
Rehearsals (PreActing)

Once the major roles for a film have been cast, directors can begin preliminary run-throughs (rehearsals) to help actors develop their specific characters. The amount of rehearsal time afforded depends greatly on what the director wants, the availability of the actor, and the overall time constraints on the film. Generally rehearsals last 2-3 weeks before the actual shooting process begins.
Rehearsals can be very helpful in establishing relationships between actors and directors, along with determining if a specific scene plays out as believable or not. It is a time when the actors can give input, ask questions and collaborate with the director on whether a scene will relay well to the audience. If not, this is the time to make changes.

Different directors have differing points of view as to whether rehearsal is important to the overall production of the film or not. On one side there are those such as Paul Williams, "I am very actor oriented, and am very concerned with performance. I don't know how to do it without rehearsals. Next there are directors such as Bernardo Bertolicci, "I don't rehearse too much. I try, if I can."

Then there are directors such as Robert Altman, "I don't have any real rehearsal period. I'm embarrassed to rehearse because I don't know what to do." Finally, there are directors like Michael Winner, who don't believe in rehearsal for a film.

For the actor, rehearsals are not just about nailing a part or figuring it out, but also discovering if there will be chemistry between the actors. Actress Mary McDonnell (Passion Fish, Dances With Wolves) contends that the best actors are the ones who aren't afraid to make mistakes. Invariably, actors discover something about themselves as they move through rehearsal.

[ from acting ]

Anthony Quinn: "Having talent is like having blue eyes. You don't admire a man for the colour of his eyes. I admire a man for what he does with his talent." [Sunday Express, 1960]

...

Stella Adler: "It's not enough to have talent, you have to have a talent for your talent."

Jeremy Irons: "You think, you don't just speak. The lines come off the thoughts." [American Film magazine]

Glenda Jackson: "Acting is not about dressing up. Acting is about stripping bare. The whole essence of learning lines is to forget them so you can make them sound like you thought of them that instant."
Next: Actors
Morning Edition, February 24, 2005 Many Oscar winners from Al Pacino to Benicio del Toro have studied with famous acting teachers such Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler -- dramatic personalities who wielded unquestioned power within their studios. Their teaching methods remain a huge influence on the art of acting, both on the silver screen and on the live stage. In the second of her three-part series on acting, NPR's Lynn Neary reports on the way these two well-known teachers approached their craft. -- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4510554
PulpFiction
method acting - definition from gcide
  Method \Meth"od\, n. [F. m['e]thode, L. methodus, fr. Gr.
     meqodos method, investigation following after; meta` after +
     "odo`s way.]
     1. An orderly procedure or process; regular manner of doing
        anything; hence, manner; way; mode; as, a method of
        teaching languages; a method of improving the mind.
        --Addison.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     2. Orderly arrangement, elucidation, development, or
        classification; clear and lucid exhibition; systematic
        arrangement peculiar to an individual.
        [1913 Webster]
  
              Though this be madness, yet there's method in it.
                                                    --Shak.
        [1913 Webster]
  
              All method is a rational progress, a progress toward
              an end.                               --Sir W.
                                                    Hamilton.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     3. (Nat. Hist.) Classification; a mode or system of
        classifying natural objects according to certain common
        characteristics; as, the method of Theophrastus; the
        method of Ray; the Linnaean method.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     4. A technique used in acting in which the actor tries to
        identify with the individual personality of the specific
        character being portrayed, so as to provide a realistic
        rendering of the character's role. Also called the Method
        , method acting, the Stanislavsky Method or
        Stanislavsky System.
        [PJC]
  
     Syn: Order; system; rule; regularity; way; manner; mode;
          course; process; means.
  
     Usage: Method, Mode, Manner. Method implies
            arrangement; mode, mere action or existence. Method is
            a way of reaching a given end by a series of acts
            which tend to secure it; mode relates to a single
            action, or to the form which a series of acts, viewed
            as a whole, exhibits. Manner is literally the handling
            of a thing, and has a wider sense, embracing both
            method and mode. An instructor may adopt a good method
            of teaching to write; the scholar may acquire a bad
            mode of holding his pen; the manner in which he is
            corrected will greatly affect his success or failure.
            [1913 Webster] Methodic
Tarkovsky
@2004 film-north *
In the second act of As You Like It, Duke Senior offers this melancholy assessment:
Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy:
This wide and universal theater
Presents more woeful pagents than the scene
Wherein we play in. (II. vii. 136-139)
To which Jaques, his listerner, responds:
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. (II. vii. 139-143)
[ that's why we have film now ]
* GODOT.06: Doing Beckett -- main stage Theatre UAF Spring 2006 *

TOPICS: drama + comedy + postmodern + american age + self + death + script-o-rama + sex + communism + themes + subjects +

Anthony Hopkins on Film: I've always liked American actors particularly. Because that was my first impression. I was very enamoured of America when I was a kid because we were surrounded by American soldiers during the war, the accent was very strange to me, it was very exotic and very captivating. And it set at an early age, when I was about six years of age, my destiny where I'd always wanted to go to America. When I went to America, I felt immediately at home there for some strange reason, and I still do. Although to be truthful, I went back last September and I didn't feel that at home there, but I felt very at peace there. I got away from this country to go and live there because I wanted to get away from everything that was stultifying about the British theatre.

... Well, film is the easiest; it's more concentrated, it is easier. And to be absolutely practical about it, if you're in a play and you're not very good in the play, you're stuck with it for six months and it's a nightmare. You know, if you're in a film and the film doesn't work out well, well you've done it. That's being pretty prosaic about it or philistine about it really. But I enjoy film, I just love the process of it. I love getting up in the morning going to the studio, going to the location - I love it! I love the nitty gritty of it all.

... There's no truth in acting, it's all a trick, because you go on stage in front of sets, you're on film - it's all a trick. I'm making it sound very - I really am demystifying it, but what I try to do, what I do, and I hope effectively, is to create a reality as if it is happening now, that you're fishing for words out of the air. And so you go on stage every night, and I think, 'Well, how can I make this different to the last night?' So what I say to myself constantly - and once you know a play well enough, or if you know your script well enough, whether it's in film or television or the theatre, if you know the text, the words, so well that at any moment you can respond to a line if someone throws you a cue like tennis or you know, you know the script so well. [ "trick" = craft ]

So what I do is I go over in my mind, I say, 'Now, now, now, now, now, now, now, now, now, now.' That word goes through my mind over and over again on each line. So I repeat it like a mantra until I get into a state of mind where it's happening again and anew. But it is all a trick. I think in order to produce - I remember I had to produce an enormous well of tears for something some years ago on a scene, and which was a very painful scene. It was in a rather strange re-make of Dark Victory, and I had to really cascade in tears of grief, and I spent a morning because they weren't getting to the scene on time. I had to build and build and build, and I had a tape recorder with some music which was very poignant, and I built this pressure up until they actually said, 'OK,' and I said to the director, 'Can we do this in one take?' and he said, 'Yeah, if we can,' He said, 'Action', and it all worked.

But I had to do a preparation on that because I didn't know how else to do it. But I find it, quite honestly, time wasting because emotions are something you can't really grasp. You can stand in the wings waiting to go on, but you can't really grasp it, and that actually what motivates a performance is the action, the objective, you know, what are you doing? You know, not what you're feeling. What are you doing? What is the actor doing at every moment in the situation? Once you get conversant with that - What is your objective? What are you doing in the scene? - then the emotions and all that stuff usually come, but then on Tuesday night, you may feel nothing, so you've got to manufacture it somehow and Stanislavsky was the first one to talk about that. He said, you know, 'If you don't feel it, do it technically, until you can grasp it.' ...

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/audio/id/956518 Anthony Hopkins: The Guardian Interview (1989)
2004 & After

read:

homework

texts:

in focus:

reading:

links:

atomfilms.com
* dfilm.com
* ifilm.com
* mediatrip.com
* super8
* classics
* independent

Tarkovsky -- Aesthetics

playsChekhov, Ibsen, Shakespeare

[ "Actors on Acting" and other source books in ACTING I, II, III on "biblio" and "books" pages ]

bergman

Bergman

Bergman2
"Bergman Pages"?

Film
Psychology and Method: Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando
2 min 12 sec

Description: Brando and Kazan: two dynamic forces of heightened realism who used each other to further their aims. This valuable program goes behind the scenes of some of their best-known collaborations A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront to illustrate how Kazan was like a father figure to Brando, challenging him to excel. Both men's careers leading up to their first meeting at Lee Strasberg's Actors' Studio are highlighted. The program also conveys Kazan's socially conscious political philosophy and how he integrated it into the films of his later years, particularly The Last Tycoon. (28 minutes) Copyright 2001 Films Media Group


motivation ... Stanislavsky Directs by Nikolai Gurchakov 0879100516

Nemirovich-Danchencko offers this description:
The actor of the old theatre acts either emotion: love, jealousy, hatred, joy, etc.; or words, underlining them, stressing each significant one; or a situation, laughable or dramatic; or a mood, or physical self-consciousness. In a word, inevitably during every instant of his presence on the stage he is acting something, representing something. Our demands on the actor are that he should not act anything; decidedly not a thing; neither feelings, or moods, nor situations, nor words, not style, nor images. All this should come of itself from the individuality of the actor, individually liberated from stereotype forms, prompted by his entire nervous system... (Nemirovich-Danchencko, 1936, p. 159, quoted by Edwards, 1965, p. 73, emphasis in the original) *

... "The declamatory style of classical acting and staging would have no outlet in the new theatre. Rather, Golub (1995) describes the MAT as "dedicated to the highest ideals of ensemble art, good citizenship, and public education. The bases of the company's approach were naturalness, simplicity, clarity, an end to the actor's traditional emploi, the alternation of large and small roles, and the detailed and individualized realization of the essence and world of the play" (p. 1032). In achieving his theatrical goals, crucial opportunities arose from Stanislavsky's directing and playing in many of Anton Chekhov's plays: The Sea Gull (1898), Uncle Vanya (1899), The Three Sisters (1901), and The Cherry Orchard (1904)."

[ same dramaturgy page ] "For many years, Stanislavsky had kept voluminous private notes of his observations about acting and stagecraft. In 1906, he experienced a crisis of confidence in his own acting and sought to define more comprehensively how actors might control or express the "inner action" of the characters they played (Benedetti, 1998). He began to compile his observations more formally. Over the next several decades he sketched out a broad range of concepts and exercises by which an actor might prepare for a role. This effort found an outlet in various later publications: An Actor Prepares (1936/1948), Building a Character (1949), and Creating a Role (1961) all appeared in English. The contents of these publications are generally refered to as the Stanislavsky System, multiple versions of which later appeared in other places, e.g., in the United States, a version called "The Method" is associated with the Actors' Studio in New York City."

One result of Stanislavsky's search to improve his own acting and those he directed culminated in 1912. That year he opened his first teaching studio where he trained younger student actors in both techniques and an all-encompassing philosophy of the art of acting which he believed would lead them to a profound level of truth on the stage. "Creativeness is not a technical trick," Stanislavsky (1936/1948) maintained, "It is not an external portrayal of images and passions as you used to think. Our type of creativeness is the conception and birth of a new being--the person in the part. It is a natural act similar to the birth of a human being" (p. 294; emphasis in the original). The arduous journey to the birth of that new being requires that actors learn a great deal about what is in their own souls. Thus, the stages of instruction in An Actor Prepares (Stanislavski, 1936/1948) first leads the student from the external elements of acting to increasingly more interior concerns (the imagination, attention & concentration on the stage, muscular control and relaxation), thence to contact with the actor's own "emotion memory." Finally he calls actors to a deeply penetrating understanding of an entire play, its characters, and their interrelationships (e.g., "inner motive forces" for the characters; the "unbroken line" or thread which maintains a play's unity) and how a particular actor will bring that play to life on the stage. The work of the actor is deeply psychological. Stanislavsky (1936/1948) tells his students that

In the first period of conscious work on a role, an actor feels his way into the life of his part, without altogether understanding what is going on in it, in him, and around him. When he reaches the region of the subconscious the eyes of his soul are opened and he is aware of everything, even minute details, and it all acquires a new significance. He is conscious of new feelings, conceptions, visions, attitudes, both in his role and in himself....We see, hear, understand, and think differently before and after we cross the 'threshold of the subconscious'. Beforehand we have 'true-seeming feelings', afterwards --'sincerity of emotions'... (pp. 266-267; emphasis in original)

Though criticizing the formulation and coherence of Stanislavsky's overall philosophical and psychological theory, James Edie (1971) summarizes his intentions sympathetically: "Reacting against the histrionics, the poses, the tricks, and the false emotivity of the traditional dramatic theater in which he was educated, Stanlislavski attempted to make theatrical acting true, real, and authentic by bringing real characters and real emotions to life on the stage...The actor so lives-into the character he embodies, so completely empathizes with him, that he becomes the very person of that character" (Edie, 1971, p. 305).

The impact of Stanislavsky's System and its instantiation in the work of the Moscow Arts Theatre extended far beyond the borders of Russia or, after the Bolshevik Revolution, the Soviet Union (Edwards, 1965). Tours of Europe, especially in German and France, as well as the United States (1922-1923) by the MAT troupe permitted not only regular audiences, but other actors and theatre critics to experience directly the changes wrought by Stanislavsky and his actors. Thus, glowing newspaper and journal accounts by visitors and critics who travelled to Moscow to see the MAT received confirmation in the nightly experience of witnessing the plays and players who carried out these tours.

For our purposes, let me suggest that Stanislavsky and similarly-minded exponents of realism in performance made more general contributions beyond the training of actors themselves. The personal journey that Stanislavky experienced in the "crisis" of 1906 and its aftermath stands eerily reminiscent of the path followed by Freud a decade earlier. Just as the founder of psychoanalysis turned to his own dreams in an intensive process of self-analysis (see Gay, 1988), Stanislavsky embraced a strategy of self-examination and observation of others in seeking to distill the principles of greatness on the stage (see Edwards, 1965, pp. 86-91). Further, the very process by which he came to that knowledge became, for Stanislavsky, a template for others: preparation for acting requires a kind of interior journey and a "working through" the layers of knowledge and the subconscious to achieve a new kind of growth and personal expression (see Note 1). Some have equated the work of preparing or training actors to a kind of Pavlovian conditioning which creates emotional automatisms (e.g., Constantinidis, 1987); but, Stanislavsky's System calls for a far broader exploration -- both interiorly and exteriorly -- with the eventual goal of finding truthfulness in public performance. Further, by rejecting acting as a simple process of imitation, Stanislavsky questions the meaning of "role" itself. In the aftermath of his 1906 reflections, he discovered that a primary mistake in his own acting had been to use other great actors and their performances as exemplars to be imitated closely. Doing so was a mistake because authentic entrance in each role requires a unity of resources -- both internal and external to the actor and internal and external to the play itself. And these resources must be configured to express unique dynamisms and tensions. Mere imitation of the external gestures or vocal qualities of others leaves a role performance inauthentic or contrived. Thus, the terms of Stanislavsky's System require any consideration of individual roles as multifaceted and demanding expression across internal and external dimensions.

From the S&S archives: Lee Strasberg conducts two-week acting seminar in Germany -- "THE EMOTIONAL memory of an actor is an actor's wealth," said the man who taught Marlon Brando how to mumble convincingly. "Mr. Method" was explaining the Stanislavsky method to a group of German actors in a two-week seminar at Bochum...

ACTORS... It was not just Brando's performances that changed film acting, however, but the titanic influence he had on other actors. He was not the first to bring Stanislavsky's Method to the screen, but he was the most dynamic, the most intense.

... Inside The Actors Studio:Al Pacino 1 film acting:

Rehearsals (Acting)

Once the major roles for a film have been cast, directors can begin preliminary run-throughs (rehearsals) to help actors develop their specific characters. The amount of rehearsal time afforded depends greatly on what the director wants, the availability of the actor, and the overall time constraints on the film. Generally rehearsals last 2-3 weeks before the actual shooting process begins.
Rehearsals can be very helpful in establishing relationships between actors and directors, along with determining if a specific scene plays out as believable or not. It is a time when the actors can give input, ask questions and collaborate with the director on whether a scene will relay well to the audience. If not, this is the time to make changes.

Different directors have differing points of view as to whether rehearsal is important to the overall production of the film or not. On one side there are those such as Paul Williams, "I am very actor oriented, and am very concerned with performance. I don't know how to do it without rehearsals. Next there are directors such as Bernardo Bertolicci, "I don't rehearse too much. I try, if I can."

Then there are directors such as Robert Altman, "I don't have any real rehearsal period. I'm embarrassed to rehearse because I don't know what to do." Finally, there are directors like Michael Winner, who don't believe in rehearsal for a film.

For the actor, rehearsals are not just about nailing a part or figuring it out, but also discovering if there will be chemistry between the actors. Actress Mary McDonnell (Passion Fish, Dances With Wolves) contends that the best actors are the ones who aren't afraid to make mistakes. Invariably, actors discover something about themselves as they move through rehearsal.

http://www.filmmakers.com/features/acting/acting6.htm

...

An online course supplement * 2005-2006 Theatre UAF Season: Four Farces + One Funeral & Godot'06
Film-North * Anatoly Antohin * eCitations * film-north blog
2007 by vtheatre.net. Permission to link to this site is granted. Bookmark FILM-NORTH books.google.com + scholar.google.com
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