Saturday, August 6, 2011

Thoughts and Reflections: "A Practical Handbook for the Actor"

I'd call this a book report, but it's not. Let's go with "free response". I'm including a few passages from the book that stood out to me, and what they made me think. Abandon all dependence on rationally organized thoughts, ye who enter here. 

"Acting requires common sense, bravery and a lot of will: the common sense to translate whatever you are given into simple, actable terms; the bravery to throw yourself into the action of the play despite fear of failure, self consciousness and a thousand other obstacles; and the will to adhere to your ideals even though it might not be the easiest thing to do."  (p6)

When truth and virtue are so rare in almost every area of our society, the world needs theatre and the theatre needs actors who will bring the truth of the human soul to the stage. The theatre may now be the only place in society where people can go to hear the truth.” (p.7)

-What does it say about us as a species that we create replications of ourselves to tell ourselves the truth? I ask this more out of curiosity than condemnation. What is so bad about the truth that we choose to refract it through art? Are we not designed to be able to handle/ process truth in it's simplest form? Is the truth so simple and mundane that we change it- sculpt, mold, twist, bend, paint, conceal and tear to adorn it with more intricacy than it possesses?

"The reason great actors are so compelling is that they have the courage to bring their personalities to bear on everything they do... you have the right and responsibility to bring to the stage who you are."

-How often are we so stuck in our own heads that we fear our characters are repetitive, or redundant, or too similar to ourselves? For a long time, my greatest fear was to go on stage and seem too much like myself- I measured the merit of my performance by the distance I could put between who I was on-stage and who I was in real-life. It was agonizing, and not very much fun.

"The person you are is a thousand times more interesting that the best acotr you could ever hope to be."  (Stanislavski, quoted on p 75)

-I often find myself concerned that I'm not doing the complexity of my character justice. Have I created a rounded, three-dimensional person? It's easy to forget that you already are one...

"Rehearsal is not a battleground but an incubator." (p 77)

-When dealing with conflicts, it's a good idea to keep in mind that everyone shares the same goal of doing the piece justice.

"Nothing is more cleansing or exhilarating than watching a human being standing true to his intentions, no matter how impossibly high the odds are against him."     (p 85)

Bruder, Melissa, Lee Michael Cohn, Madeleine Oinek, Nathaniel Pollack, Robert Previto, Scott Zigler. A Practical Handbook for the Actor. Random House. New York. 1986.