Wednesday, September 19, 2007


As of this date in the theatre workshop we have worked with a little Grotowski, some Meisner and some stanislavsky (from here on refered to as "method") acting styles. Also, i've been reading a lot of Brecht and thinking about his acting preferences (we'll get to brecht eventually) All of this has me fairly flummoxed about what i think about acting and what acting school i prefer.

I am now going to try and sort some of this out so i can at least begin judging things accurately.

My understanding of Grotowski is that acting is a reductive process, that you strip yourself down and bare your core being to the audience in order to be genuine and convincing. We haven't actually worked with this very much, but for some reason i like the idea, especially in contrast to the tool box of voices, inflections, walks, affects sort of approach. So i dig this in theory, on instinct, but don't have experience with it in reality at all.

Meisner seems to be all about having genuine reactions. This idea seems very effective. That if you can get out of your head then what you do on stage will be much more beleiveable. We've done some exercizes, repetition, mostly, which is the most basic meisner thing and i can see it working there, but it's a long long way from there to the stage (when you kinda need your head to know the lines and character)

Method is all about bringing your actual emotiona life onto the stage, really feeling the emotions your character is having. This gets very confusing for me and we had a big circular argument about it when we dealt with it. it went something like this:
"how can i have a real emotional response to an object that i don't have any emotional connection to?"
"you bring your emotional response from it's original context into the context you need it for the stage. "
"so- that's pretending"
"that's acting! acting is pretending. "
"then it's not a real emotional response"
"yes it is, look at, when you saw me do that, it was real"
"but you just said it was pretending"

finally we agreed that there's real and then there's really real or originally real, but i still doubt that the "real" emotional response CAN be really real, and i don't know that i'd WANT it to be if i were doing it. On the other hand some of what people did was amazingly realistic and beleiveable. So, yeah, it's kinda one of those words failing us sort of things.

this seems to be a higher risk and more unlikely to succeed method than the meisner method.

thing is, they both aim for something that i don't know if i want. Cuz when brecht talks about how he wants the audience to interact with his plays, i get exciting and totally agree. I want an audience that THINKS about what's happening and has an emotional response to their thoughts, not to the actions on stage.

I don't know if brecht's alienation method is the way to acheive that. I don't fully understand and haven't seen brechts method in action. some of his ideas about the structure of a play, about projection and breaking the forth wall and making the sound and light aparatus visible seem like they'll work, but (according to what i've read) the acting style didn't really work and i wonder if it HAS to work for Brecht's critical audience thing to happen. i think maybe that's mainly in the writing.

I haven't got to the sections of his theoretical writings where he deals with acting in depth or describes experiments and i've never really officially seen it on stage (i have seen things that i think, wait, is that... is that brechtian acting? or does that guy just kinda suck?) but UWM is doing Caucasian Chalk Circle this semester, so i i think in the next few months i'll get a chance to play with all of that.

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