The illiterate actor of the 21st century and a war against the author and the text.
“Text is the enemy of the actor…”
A famous teacher once said….
but a gentleman never tells who…
Well ok Meisner said it!
yeah, apparently I am not much of a gentleman…
Let me be clear text IS YOUR FRIEND!
And you know how it goes, introductions matter when you first meet someone. So a friend you trust should never-ever introduce you to someone new by saying :
“This is John… John is an asshole” and then expect you to like John.
TO BE FAIR :
1) I am using a quote and as it goes with quotes context is missing
2) I UNDERSTAND WHY SOME TEACHERS Declare war on text.
Text (play Or Script ) — might be a temporary expendable “obstruction”.
The reason being :
“FRESH” actors, when given a text at the beginning of their training, might adopt a tenancy to play, to indicate, so in such instances unquestionably the text might be an inconvenience…BUT NEVER THE ENEMY.
Once you have solved the equation of what indicating means , the text is all the actor has.
It is vital how we go about the text. Using “harsh” terms as the “enemy” is not only erroneous, it does more harm than you can imagine, forming a community of illiterate actors who presume their intuition is better than the text or the author.
To make matters worse, it produces a company of actors with a snobbish attitude towards the mechanics of playwriting or scriptwriting and actors who do not know precisely how to place themselves inside a story. Through technique they might be efficient enough to understand and eventually play a “simple” character of a jolly Barista who witnessed a murder in the tenth season of “Law & Order” but nothing more complicated than that….
Some studios are not TRAINING ACTORS BUT excellent “extras” that can say a line and hit their mark…
I don’t have a problem with extras, I love them, I just have a special thing for actors.
Most Acting coaches know…
Coaches who are worth their salt — who are willing to be honest with you — and who have been in hundreds of sets, do not talk “technique,” with an actor on set.
They don’t teach technique on set, technique is something you’ve done or you haven’t, and there’s no time for “lessons” on set.
What they usually HAVE to do is take the “intuitive” but somewhat “illiterate” actor that came out of a “technique studio” by the hand and place them correctly inside the story and the scene, explaining what they should be fighting for because they can’t do it on their own.
They can’t READ the story correctly.
They have learned to be afraid of the text. Teachers keep creating this false antipathy between text and actor, and to add insult to injury, they then introduce the text in a destructive complicated manner, breaking it down in an ineffective way.
It’s no wonder then, that the actor, already having been indoctrinated to consider the text an enemy, gets paralyzed. The teacher has made the text look like a dreaded minefield.
Text is not the enemy and actors should not be introduced to the text in a pseudo-intellectual — and in an over-dissecting way. What you ever you dissect has a tendency to umm die?
Again, I don’t Have an issue with analysis, it is imperative as long as it is done correctly and for the actor’s benefit, not the teacher’s indulgent nature.
The best way to train actors is by doing scenes, scenes, and more scenes…
And please stop with the
“Acting is just action”
“Acting is just behavior”
Yes, it is all that, but never just that, and never to the detriment of the text.
BECAUSE…text…is already action and Behavior!!!
Words are actions, words can and do change:
feelings, behavior, and points of view.
As Stanislavsky said “active language”
a language that tries to “transform” your partner!
Use them (words) wisely.
P.S. a link with the words of the wise Wynn Handman refuting the adage “an ounce of behavior a pound of words” by Meisner
Copyright 2023 Kimon Fioretos, All Rights Reserved.