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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: March ::
Re: Acting the Bard
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0886  Friday, 29 March 2002

[1]     From:   Aimee Luzier <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Mar 2002 10:29:12 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0865 Acting the Bard

[2]     From:   Susan St. John <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Mar 2002 23:05:39 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0865 Acting the Bard


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Aimee Luzier <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Mar 2002 10:29:12 -0800
Subject: 13.0865 Acting the Bard
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0865 Acting the Bard

With all due respect, Mr. Small, have you ever performed one of
Shakespeare's roles?  Telling an actor to only to play an emotion, "Iago
hates", is a certain path to dreadful acting and a rather dull
production.  Generalized emotion is poison on stage and tells us nothing
about the character.  Sanford Meisner once defined acting is to "do
truthfully under imaginary circumstances".  Acting is a verb.  Not a
noun or a generalized description.  All actors work differently and
there are as many techniques to arrive at a compelling performance as
there are philosophies and actors to adhere to them.  Yes, there are
certainly some that ignore the text in favor of an invented biography
and a self-indulgent rewriting of the meaning of the text; but acting is
an interpretive art.  I would agree with you, however, that one must use
every clue available in the text, but in a production, one's choices as
an actor are also determined by one's director, one's fellow cast
members, the overall shape of the production and yes, by one's instincts
as an artist which say, "make it specific, make it real, and make it
immediate."  Otherwise, one falls into all the traps detailed in
Hamlet's instruction to the players, which we all already know. Best
wishes.

Aimee Luzier

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Susan St. John <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Mar 2002 23:05:39 -0700
Subject: 13.0865 Acting the Bard
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0865 Acting the Bard

Sam Small writes:

>  If no history exists then the
>master dramatist did not mean you to imagine one. [snip]
>As in the mystery of Iago's hatred or >the origin of the
>Capulet/Montague feud, we simply do not know and cannot know.  What we
>are led to in theses cases is a more fundamental and universal
>archetypical emotion - one that is known but cannot be easily
>described.  Iago HATES.  That is all the actor is given and all he must
>go with.

Sorry Sam, but as an actor I vehemently disagree.  An actor cannot and
MUST NOT play a generic hatred...the hatred must be specific and
truthful and based on the text, but detailed and complete for the
actor....otherwise the audience will not watch.  The audience may not
ever KNOW what Iago's reasons are, but the actor MUST know!  Otherwise,
how can the actor make choices??  Hatred for a boss who passed you over
for promotion will manifest itself in a completely different manner than
hatred for the man you think slept with your wife.  The actor must
choose (and thus, know) which type of hatred his performance is about.
This is why acting is not an easy job.

Respectfully,
Susan.

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