Communication Inquiry COM 2010
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Long 1 Learning objectives 1 Students will recognize characteristics of various acting methods 2 Students will be able to identify methods of characterization 3 Students will be able to apply strategies for the development of acting performance eg concentration voice production movement memory 4 Students will be able to analyze the relationship between movement and characterization Life Skills Taught by the Performing Arts From Blank Roberts 1997 Focus Learning how to attend to or concentrate on a task Observation As an audience or observer as performer or creator of a project 0 Paying attention and noticing details 0 Becoming sensitive to multiple points of View 0 Learning to use observations to think analytically Creative Problem Solving 0 Being willing to experiment without locking into a single course of events 0 Being able to suspend the inner critic during experimentation Followthrough Learning to participate in a decision making process that starts with a concept and ends with a productperformance Organization Learning to be responsible for scheduled commitments Researching and gathering materials Formulating concepts into structures Finding details of content to place within structures Understanding and analyzing the correlations between the details of content or events 0 Reformulating concepts and structures to order information into a final product Presentation Learning to present oneself clearly and forcefully while maintaining a personal individual style Communication 0 Learning to articulate ideas to others 0 Learning to listen to others 0 Learning about other cultures and ideas Teamwork Ensemble Collaboration 0 Learning to work together with respect and cooperation to develop an idea or 00000 project 0 Learning to negotiate and compromise Selfdiscipline 0 Learning to take responsibility for oneself Following through on a project from beginning to end Being on time and ready to work Taking initiative and completing assignments O O O o Participating in repetitive rehearsal drills Long 2 A ACTING METHODS Stanislavski s Method the Method This is Constantin Stanislavski s method and the most significant to actor training It is a method of physical actions and is still being employed today The purpose is to draw upon one s own life and use personal experiences that caused high emotional reactions to evoke the same emotions while acting ltSHOW TRANSPARENCY OUTLINE OF THE METHOD OF PHYSICAL ACTIONgt Stanslavski s system cannot be learned by heart it must be absorbed gradually and must be learned as an unbreakable whole Each element cannot be learned in isolation or be divided Moore 1984 Thus as a note here If Stanislavski s method interests you as a teacher extensive research would have to be done to completely understand and utilize it For an actor to find physical action they must both draw upon their own emotions and their environment They must physically embody their role There is a great deal of preparation that must be done in order for an actor to achieve the image of an improvisational state they must achieve spontaneity through practice and train to behave as if in real life Stanislovski believed that in life people experience emotion and the body expresses it Moore 1984 Although embodiment is important for an actor to be successful at their role it is important to also note that this doesn t mean an actor should surrender his sense of reality he should still be aware that the scenery is fake and that he is still an actor Cole 1955 To be an ideal actor one must achieve artistic independence through mastery of technique Benedetti 1998 Basically the actor must still have self control Stanislavski believed that to be a successful actor one must become a child again That is they must do everything as if they are doing it for the first time Benedetti 1998 For actors to practice physical action acting is divided into a system that has two main Elements or phases for it is too complex to be taken in at once Actors must master both of these to master as a whole technique Benedetti 1998 1 Exercises to examine what people actually do in real life what the mechanism is and how it works 2 Exercises to see how imaginative artistic use can be made of that mechanism in various dramatic situations Essentially it is a systematic approach to training actors to work from the inside out Actors must study and experience subjective emotions and feelings and express them through physical and vocal means They must practice to appear natural and study their own experience and their environment See also Lee Strasbergfor further inquiry into method acting Long 3 Delsarte Svstem the French Svstem L This method is much more technical than Stanislavski s method and focused on analysis of vocal projection and body movement to portray emotion more than the physical experience of them It was popularized in the end of the nineteenth century All emotions were catalogued by posture gesture head position and each expressive piece of the face eyes eyebrows mouth Since much of the dialogue of plays during the time was artificial and exaggerated so was this approach to acting Schreck 1970 This acting was considered theatrical and didn t appear to embrace or conform to actual life Schreck 1970 Although very technical in nature it serves as a complement to method acting Stanislavski s technique Especially keep in mind that historical plays might need to utilize this method to fully grasp the style of the era for added effect Schreck 1970 Meisner Technigue Created by Stanford Meisner this method stresses improvisation repetition and response It s a mix between natural and technical drawing upon an actor s imagination as well as disciplining their behavior Any actor cannot be restricted only by the text itself but must learn to improvise behavior to develop a character Meisner 1987 On the matter of improvisation it is important that an actor does and does not think yet he will have a specific reason for doing anything This means that there is preparation involved in improvisation there must always exist a purpose This reason can t be overly dramatic or urgent but simple and specific ex a person enters a building for a can of soup not because his brother is trapped beneath a car Meisner 1987 There are two components of any character the inner component that the actor takes from the written text as well as external components Meisner 1987 Activity 1 Paper Bag Drarnatics Blank Roberts 1997 Time 30 60 minutes depending on whether or not item gathering happens during class time Materials paper bags index cards or paper scraps pictures or photos from books or magazines small objects rocks pencils toys etc a Gather items to fill the paper bags or ask players to collect them b Divide the group into teams of three to five players Fill one paper bag for each team keeping the number of items the same for each team 5 10 items 0 Give tearns time to explore the items and plan how to use them in a skit as physical props or inspiration 1 Have tearns perform their paper bag improvisations for one another Purpose A fun introduction to improvisation for students where they will be forced to think without extensive preparation but given some class time to develop ideas They will learn to work together and explore their imagination which is so Vital to acting Long 4 B CHARACTERIZATION I The actors are the bridge between the written play and the audience They must transform the written play into a performance and communicate the author s intent for writing the play to the audience Moore 1984 The actor must discover and explore important ideas that the playwright reveals through their characters Adler 1988 To achieve Characterization and to prepare one s character the actor must be conscious of the following elements Adler 1988 a Social Situation b Class I Working I Upper middle I Middle I Aristocracy c Character s profession d Past of the character e Character elements f Character s attitude toward his partner Every character is reacting to the circumstances that they are given and it is the actor s job to discover what they are and respond to them C ACTING PERFORMANCE VOICE Renowned acting teacher Stella Adler 1988 points out the necessity for reaching your partner reaching the audience Never communicate in a dead way You must be articulate and persona Actors must be able to adapt their voice to specific scenarios and speak clearly and effectively 1 Mouth position I Quite simply an actor s mouth must be open when they speak This is just as true in acting as it is in singing If you drop your chin your tongue leaves more room for sound to escape from your throat It might feel unnatural at first but the sound quality will be fuller and richer Grandstaff 1990 2 Volume I It is important to control vocal volume to adjust to the environment in a theatre people in the back row must hear what s happening on stage yet not exaggerate to the extreme of yelling Long 5 3 Breathing 0 Breathing is directly related to volume of the voice if an actor is constantly yelling and speaking very quickly they will only allow for short quick breaths that can lead to fatigue An actor must be able to control breathing and relaxation of muscles Proper control over breathing comes with practice by inhaling from the chest as far as it can expand and exhaling while reciting a series of lines Then work toward contracting abdominal muscles more than those of the chest for more control Schreck 1970 0 There is an important difference between abdominal breathing and clavicular breathing Clavicular breathing means that while inhaling the shoulders and chest will rise instead of the abdomen moving and this creates a thin or shallow sound that constricts speech Grandstaff 1990 4 Clear Articulation Pronunciation Activity 2 Exercise for developing vocal Energy Adler 1988 Time Over the course of the unit roughly 15 minutes per day students will rotate who does the exercise each class period Materials Needed Each student will be responsible for one short piece of writing or text of their choice to bring to class each day 1 Read an editorial or it might be more beneficial to practice from a student text poem etc of their choice aloud every day 2 Read or speak ten fifty and a hundred feet away from someone to hear your true range 3 Read as if the audience were across the table across the room across the street PurposeInstruction when you read aloud every day you must hear yourself speak In the passage you read take out all of the periods and commas They keep you from speaking naturally make your own punctuation MOVEMENT POSITION It is important to consider an actor s movement beyond assigned direction Moore 1984 on Stanislavski s philosophy explains that an actor does not go on stage to fulfill any physical movement Physical movement is a mechanical act Physical action has a purpose it has psychology Human actionian act of human behavioriis conditioned by the environment To put it simply Stanislavski believed that there is no place in the living theatre for mannerism or mechanical gestures Long 6 There are four main types of stage movement Schreck 1970 1 Definite part of the plot action or written into the script N 5 Indefinite it may be suggested by the playwright but is more likely to be an expression by the actor of their character s behavior Positive emphatic aggressive or strong movement It is commanding or defiant Negative submissive weakness or giving in the movements are smaller and opposite positive movement For any action the actor must know the following Adler 1988 JkL Nt l What they do Where they do it When they do it Why they do it ltDemonstrate the following three lists with volunteers from the class discuss significance of position and movement to different positionsgt Body positions Schreck 1970 Or k ka LII Fullfront The actor faces directly toward the audience Quarter position He faces left or right about forty five degrees from the full front position Pro le He faces directly stage right or stage left Threequarter He is in a position halfway between profile and full back either to stage right or left Fullback He faces the back wall of the stage with his back to the audience The farther down the list the weaker the actor is as far as emphasis and position However each position should be worked into harmony with the dialogue and different scenarios call for different positions Schreck 1970 This is especially true if there are multiple actors on the stage not everyone can have full attention at once Directions for Change of body positions Schreck 1970 1 N U 4 LI 0 Open up This means to turn the body more toward the audience For example to open up the actor might turn from a profile to a quarter position or to full front Close in or turn in The actor turns away from the audience and toward the center of the stage as for example turning from quarter position to profile Turn out The actor turns away from the center of the stage to the right or to the left If the actor were playing left of stage center in the full front position and were given the direction to turn out he would turn left to approximately the quarter position Forward The actor moves one or more steps in the direction in which he is facing keeping the same body position Backward The actor moves backward one or more steps and keeps the same body position Downstage This direction with varying distances means for the actor to move the required distance directly toward the front of the stage and assume the same body position he had before moving Upstage The actor moves directly upstage a specified distance and takes the same body position Long 7 Devices for Achieving Character Emphasis Schreck 1970 1 Levels The distances above the stage oor ex a balcony The character on the highest level receives the most emphasis Space A character standing or sitting alone receives more emphasis than one in a group or mob 3 Plane How the stage is divided by footlights the closer a character is to the footlights the more emphasis The strongest is the nearest to the audience on stage 4 Line Imaginary lines drawn by the eyes this deals with how actors stand in relation to each other If they form a triangle on stage the character at the apex of the triangle receives the most emphasis 5 Visual Focus Attention is drawn where others are looking so if most of the characters on stage are looking at a single character the audience is more likely to do so as well 6 Contrast Notice of something different or unusual If someone is out of step or position from the others they receive more emphasis N GESTURES ltShow transparency pictures of gestures for class discussiongt Gestures are very close to movement and can communicate a character s intent to the audience Activity 3 PantomimeCharades Time 20 30 minutes Materials Needed paper and pencil hat or bowl Prepare on separate folded squares of paper a written word pertinent to characterization or acting development Separate the class into two separate teams and on rotation have one student from each team draw from the hat one of these words Using gestures only the student must try and get their team to shout out what they are trying to portray Some examples I Tiger I Railroad worker I Sea captain I King or Queen Purpose Students will learn the importance of using strong gestures to communicate with their audience Without gesture they are a very linear character without unique quality Long 8 Activity 4 Sculptures Blank Roberts 1997 Time 15 30 minutes Materials needed None 1 Players will work in pairs and choose a partner Explain that one partner will be a sculptor and one will be a sculpture They will have a chance to reverse once the activity is complete 2 Players being sculptures will start by laying on the oor as if a ball of clay or stand in a neutral position 3 Sculptors are then directed to start moving their sculptures into various shapes until they find one they want their sculpture to end up This may take some time and start slowly if players aren t comfortable with one another so they may just work with arms and legs 4 Once a final shape has been determined the sculptor tells the sculpture they are finished and the sculpture must memorize this shape 5 Once everyone is finished designate a museum display area Sculptors will View one another s work and discuss the end product They will analyze the different forms and gestures and why they chose the shape they did 6 Partners reverse roles Purpose In addition to learning how to work as a cooperative team students will learn the importance of creating gesture and experimentation They will be able to discuss with each other how they feel about what the sculpture is communicating to them and have a better understanding of gestures and communication MEMORY 0 The rehearsal process is very broad Adler 1988 quotes Stanislavski by saying that he believed it was possible for an group to rehearse a play for six hours or they can rehearse it for six months the process is very different depending on the circumstance There are three basic stages to memorizing and rehearsing a play Adler 1988 1 Taking in the meaning the first step is for an individual actor to memorize his or her lines This means first studying the script without memorization it is a process In this way the meaning can be slowly taken in without having to commit everything to technical memory at once And since each play has a unique style and mood recognizing these will make the text clearer Lifting the Idea Memory goes well beyond lines on a page In this step an actor may not have lines memorized which is fine because memorization blocks real understanding As an actor practices in the play as a whole they become more familiar and comfortable with their character and the lines come more naturally Realizing the Play It all comes together through interpretation and confidence takes over D U Long 9 Short Quiz remember acting isn t just about words on paperl 1 Which acting method focuses on cataloguing emotion in a technical way a Stanislavski s Method the Method b Delsarte System the French System c Meisner Technique 1 All of the above 2 For any action the actor must know the following circle all that apply a What they do b Why they do it c What they had for lunch 1 When they do it e If it s morally appropriate f Where they do it 3 To achieve Characterization and to prepare one s character the actor must be conscious of all but which of the following elements a Class b Past of the character c Partner s attitude toward you 1 Character elements 4 True or False To reach your audience you must alter your voice to shout at them so they can hear you 5 True or False Clavicular breathing which means that while inhaling your shoulders and chest will rise instead of the abdomen moving is the best way to regulate breathing 6 True or False Positioning yourself in profile to the audience is the most powerful way to stand 7 Imagine you re the main character in a play what are two ways you would attract audience attention to yourself Long 10 2925 W2 Adoration Siddons 1822 Long 11 Pride Siddons 1822 Long 12 SUSPICION Siddons 1822 Long 13 7 I ml Terence 1 mm 739 44 xpeclauou E Siddons 1822 Long 14 17 f r y Excited Interest quotz 39 z AANJ Grati cation Siddons 1822 Terror lt r 4 k AV WVquot W Terror as described by Eugel Siddons 1822 Long 15 Long 16 Works Cited Adler S 1988 The Technique of Acting New York Bantam Books Benedetti J 1998 Stanislavski amp the Actor New York NY RoutledgeTheatre Arts Books Blank C amp Roberts J 1997 Live On stage Teacher Resource BookPalo Alto CA Dale Seymour Publications Cole T 1955 Acting The Handbook of the Stanislavski Method New York Crown Publishers Inc Grandstaff R J 1990 Acting amp Directing Chicago IL National Textbook Company Meisner S 1987 Sanford Meisner 0n Acting New York Vintage Books Moore S 1984 The Stanislavski System New York NY Penguin Books Schreck EM 1970 Principles and Styles of Acting Reading MA Addison Wesley Publishing Company Siddons H 1822 reissued 1968 Practical Illustrations of Rhetorical Gesture and Action New York NY Benjamin Blom Inc