Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Actor's Work - Part III

What makes powerful acting?  A subjective question if ever there was one!  What one likes is very individual, and what appears effective and honest to me might be just the opposite to you.  What training an actor -- did the training come from US traditions where visceral, emotional elements of the character are found through some use of The Method(based on some form of Stanislavsky's precepts) process, or did the training come from a British tradition where truths are explored through external means, by way of breath and speech, or did the training come from some combination of them? -- has had will contribute to his/her style and will either appeal to the beholder or not.  But there are certain truths that hold for all judgments.

An actor must be the physical master of his/her face, voice, and body at all times.  Whatever h/she does in a scene must be predicated on the character's physical, psycho-social, and emotional realities, and the benchmark is absolutely believability.  If an actor's performance is not credible, i.e., if an observer does not buy that this character is who the actor claims him/her to be doing what h/she is supposed to be doing, the actor has failed.  In a British tradition, actors find authenticity from the outside in, allowing emotional and psychological truths to reveal themselves through the text and get to the characterization by exterior means.  In the American Method approach, the actor is only credible if all the underpinnings are motivated by interior constructs discovered through epiphany and revelation.

Macbeth has been performed admirably by actors schooled in each of these approaches, and when you see great acting, you will recognize it, whether it emanates from the one convention or the other.  Below You'll see an example of the Tomorrow and Tomorrow by great American actor Orson Welles and then by British actor Patrick Stewart, then the sleepwalking scene by Britain's Dame Judith Dench and Philadelphia-born Jeanette Nolan.  If the actors have succeeded, you shouldn't be able to tell where the truth is coming from; it will simply BE.

We leave it to you to judge for yourself.

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