Thursday, December 18, 2008

Closing Comments to My Acting I Students

"The purpose of this class (Acting I) was to exercise your imaginative muscles and physical instrument as well as introduce you to the very basic, and most important, tools of theater performance.   "Detail work," the term used in this program by Jack Young, is another term for "imagery work."   This is where acting begins.  It includes, memory, empathy, imagination, and imaginative use of all five senses.  Action/Objective both focuses your imagination toward what the play is about and begins to structure your work.  If s/he never heard of "action/objective," an actor could nonetheless perform credibly on television or in film, if his or her detail work were strong.  For stage, Action/objective is indispensable.

·      "I hope this class will have helped performers in obvious ways--actors and dancers.  It exercises your most important, largest imaginative muscles, and hopefully has helped you 'feel the burn' in lesser-used imaginative muscles you may not have exercised in a while.  It will also guide your imagination toward the world of the play.

·      "I hope it will have helped playwrights begin to imagine their work from the player side of the equation.  Have you directed your actors to use imagination/details in very specific ways, or do you want them to take your play places you didn't expect?  Tennessee Williams is very rich in detail he provides.  Eugene O'Neill is not.  Do you write lines with playable actions and useful obstacles?  If you don't, what does that mean for the play you're writing?

·      "I hope it will have given designers and technicians new ways to think about how performers inhabit the spaces--both the physical and temporal spaces--of the theaters you design or build or run for performances.  This production work is of course essential, and suffers if production personnel don't understand the living activity that happens on stage in performance and rehearsal.  The work of this class will help you to understand how the playing spaces you build, manage and dress are shaped as much by the actors as by the set and lighting designers, and that the stage is a psycho-physical space--dynamic rather than static--not just a platform or box.  Having done a little of the work of performers will help you collaborate more effectively with them, just as the production classes that performers take will help them collaborate better with you.

·      "I know this class helped the teacher--me--by enriching his own understanding and ability to use these tools, teaching him about the craft through your unique insights and talent.  Your note taking and in-class participation have been essential not only to your growth, but to his.  I look forward to future collaboration with you, at UH or elsewhere."

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