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Thea 201 Lecture Notes Week 6

by: Kate Hoffman

Thea 201 Lecture Notes Week 6 Thea 201

Marketplace > University of Mississippi > Theatre > Thea 201 > Thea 201 Lecture Notes Week 6
Kate Hoffman
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About this Document

Lecture notes from Tuesday, will be used on the quiz. The focus is on actors and acting techniques.
Introduction to Theatre Studies
Dr. Shifflett
Class Notes
theatre, theatre appreciation, actors, acting, Lecture, notes, thea 201
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kate Hoffman on Friday March 4, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Thea 201 at University of Mississippi taught by Dr. Shifflett in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 48 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Theatre Studies in Theatre at University of Mississippi.


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Date Created: 03/04/16
Thea 201 – Week 6 Lecture The Playwright and the Actor Who’s telling the story? The playwright provides the script (like a blueprint), and the actors perform the play; it is a collaborative effort between the two. “-wright”: craftsman, skilled worker, one who builds; a playwright builds the script An actor embodies… An actor’s body is his instrument. Actors express characters through voice and movement. There is training that focuses on expanding expressive range; The actor’s skills must serve the playwright’s vision Actors must be able to match different genres and speak rhythmically Modern American Acting- One of the greatest cultural exports of America; other countries have tried to imitate and incorporate American acting. The best known are Paul Newman, Robert Duval, etc. The technique involved with American acting started in Russia with Konstantin Stanislavsky, who was an innovator for realism and realistic acting. He developed “the technique”, which was analyzing the characters’ wants and objectives, what they’re willing to do, and what they would do if they don’t meet the objectives; in other words, the actors “get inside the character’s skin”. This technique was strongly based on Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis (man-> frustrated-> desires->personality) Stanislavsky wrote a book that described this technique; however, the book was badly translated by an Indiana housewife for some reason, and was later found by the Group Theatre, which was a communal group of actors who believed in communism and revealing what the bottom of the social scale was like (aka: the American working class). Arthur Miller was a part of this group; he wrote The Death of a Salesman, All My Aons, and The Crucible (stories about the lower middle class struggling to get by, and tragedy) The Group Theater was eventually split into 3 different groups, which led to the 3 main schools of acting in America: 1. Lee Strasberg- “the method”- the actor must be able to use his own emotional life to amplify his acting (method acting); sometimes a derogatory term that says that an actor goes too far into his character. “Affective memory”- (example) an actor pulls a needed emotion from a past experience, like grief over a death; associated smell to memory. Example: an actor for the crucible lived in a log cabin he built himself for 2 weeks to better know what it was really like. 2. Stella Adler- the actor must use his own imagination (given circumstances): all the things you need to know or can know about the character in this given moment. The character’s life extends beyond the actor’s life and actions. (backstory) Examples: Mrs. Piggy has a complex backstory that adds to her current state of acting. (Anger and frustration from past, etc.) 3. Stanford Meisner- an actor should build off of the truth of the moment. Being open and available now to the other actor in the scene; build off of their performance with sincerity and honesty within reactions to the other actor’s action. Spontaneity in reaction, do it as if it is happening for the first time. Don’t plan/memorize/think ahead of time. –Repetition exercise: not allowed to add anything else to a set line of speech with an individual until you see something change in their demeanor (ex: once a person you’re practicing with starts to get frustrated from the constant repetition, you can now say “you’re frustrated”, and then they now repeat “I’m frustrated); this training allowed actors to follow impulses with one another, which is what real people do when they interact in real time. Film These 3 previously mentioned methods do well with film actors; they can work with both comedy and drama (both comedy and drama need timing, exaggeration, honest human emotion in order to be entertaining) Example: Marlon Brando (1950s) was one of the most famous actors to come from this training; he embodied the character “naturally” (in the play A Streetcar Named Desire). How the character behaves is more important than just what he says. Acting questions: What is each character doing at the beginning of this scene? What is the relationship between the characters in this scene? What does each character want in this scene? How does each character behave to get what he/she wants? What does each actor do with his/her voice and body to express this behavior? How does each character’s wants change over the course of the scene? Which characters are successful at getting what they want (if any)? What now?


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