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The Language Of The Stage

The Language Of The Stage Is Action

“That for which we find words is something already dead in our hearts. There is always a kind of contempt in the act of speaking.”… Friedrich Nietzsche

The above quote, by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, I believe, has something to say about ‘acting’ and the use of words in dramatic performance. Words can separate us from the experience and from the emotion not only in the theatre but also in life.
Words, or more precisely the spoken word, derives meaning and communicates beyond the literal meaning of the word on the page. The spoken word, when spoken by an actor, communicates a meaning and depth and resonates a truth and a humanity that is eventually received by the receiver – the audience.  
I believe that good actors need to have an appetite for words. There is nothing better for an actor than a well-written play. A good playwright, whether consciously or unconsciously, derives meaning not only in the words themselves but also in the way the words are put down on the page.   A good playwright is able to facilitate an actor’s work by engendering and bringing forth a rhythm in dramatic writing by the way, by the order, in which the words are put down on the page.   What communicates beyond the word or words alone and creates emotion in dramatic performance is the actor’s ability to find, to step into the rhythm inherent in the text. 

A good actor has the ability, has the skill to unlock the meaning and emotion in a dramatic piece of writing by detecting and uncovering the rhythms in the writing.   For the actor this ability is not an intellectual process.
A great piece of music is dead on the page and needs an instrument – a piano, and a player – a pianist, to take the music off the page. A great piece of dramatic writing needs an instrument – an actor, to take the dramatic writing off the page and transpose the word(s) into the language of the stage – that is ACTION that is EMOTION.  
Words are important. The choice of words and the way they are put down on the page creates rhythm and rhythm creates emotion. The actor’s ability to unlock the rhythms, and thus communicate the dramatic meaning, in the text is a result of what and how he/she does and not solely reliant on the way the words come out of the actor’s mouth.
An actor need only unlock the rhythm in the written text and step into that rhythm via his/her DOING. The doing will generate the emotion and the emotion will communicate beyond the speaking of the word.    … PETER SARDI Melbourne Australia     13 April 2010



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