“There is always a kind of contempt in the act of speaking. That for which we find words is already dead in our hearts.”
This quote, our monthly quote for this month of September – by Friedrich Nietsche, is truly one of my favorites. I decided to utilize this quote and expand on how it not only relates philosophically to life and certain principles, but also how it relates to Acting and Actors. I love words and the ability for words, when spoken by actors, to communicate. As Al Pacino says in an interview: “Actors have to have an appetite for words.” I have an enormous respect for writers and their ability to use words to tell a story and create characters. A writer’s tool, what he/she chooses to communicate with, is the word. It all starts here. “In the beginning was the WORD.” And that’s even biblical! Along comes an actor and he says those words in front of an audience. The actor attempts to use those words to communicate with the audience. If he/she is a good actor this ability to communicate the spoken word will speak/connect with the audience. I have often applauded the skill of an actor as he/she, through their trained voice, speaks out clearly and beautifully the playwright’s words. A lot of schools, rightly so, focus a lot of their training on the actors voice and the spoken word. More schools need to make this a priority. However: There is an aspect of “acting” and the whole creative process which, in my humble opinion, is misunderstood. Here lies the problem. The words on the page, as beautifully and expressively written as they may be – are ‘words on a page’; And as great as these words may be on the page they will remain on the page if actors only use their wonderfully trained voices to communicate the meaning of the words.
The ‘meaning’ does not come from the words. The meaning comes from the BEHAVIOR. The behavior comes from THE BODY.
As in life what truly communicates is BEHAVIOR. I have believed and known, for a very long time now, that THE BODY and THE IMAGINATION are the most important tools in an actors craft. Words help but they are only a part – a small part – of ‘Acting’ and what it is that actors do. Yes – actors say words but they also DO! Acting is doing. Yes – actors DO with their bodies and it’s out of the doing, out of the body that words – for the actor – come ALIVE!
WORDS DO NOT COME OFF THE PAGE BUT OFF AND OUT OF THE BODY!
I am attempting to explain here with words what contributes to good acting. This is a very difficult thing to do when it comes to acting and the creative process. The description of the process of acting and the attempt to articulate what it is that actors do is best served by demonstration and not explanation. It is for this reason that – after nearly 30 years as an actor – and teaching actors for nearly as long – I have begun to produce a series of DVD’s (COMING NEXT YEAR!) demonstrating some basic truths on what it is that actors, good actors DO that leads to good acting. In the meantime here’s a sample/demonstration of what these DVD’s will be comprised of.
Behavior and THE BODY…
Playing for contact…
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