Monday, February 28, 2011

WhatAbout Script Analyis?

Here are some questions and answers about script analysis that I recently had with a correspondent. My comments are in bold.

In your e-book,("The Tao of Acting") you say you're not in favour of script analysis. Exactly so. I also find this very difficult for me to do. I've been taking acting classes for almost a year now, and I feel I haven't improved much since I started.That is probably due to your doing too much writing and not enough acting in those classes.

How should an actor prepare for a scene, like getting into character, if he should not create an imaginary biography of the character, or imagine what happened before the scene starts? If you have read the play, you have all the character info and back story you need. If the playwright thought you needed more, he would have given you more. (historical characters excepted as the playwright may think the actor already knows the character and his circumstances when the actor may be unaware of them. Then a bit of historical research may be in order, but otherwise analysis is not needed.) The actor reads the scene or the play, whichever he is given, understands what is going on and what the character is about, then the actor assumes the physical character, and reacts to the stimuli of the scene moment by moment.

Isn't sub-text beneficial to the actor because it helps the actor be, or get in touch with the character? I think sub text is a crock. The lines ARE the emotional response to the stimuli, they don't need sub text, they need to be spoken to communicate their meaning. Sub text is "acting" and therefore artificial and we want our performances more real. Also sub text is dangerous because the actor may speak the sub text rather than the lines and confuse his scene partner. I saw a famous actress do a scene at The Actors Studio, years ago, and she felt the scene was not working so she ad libbed a sub text line not in the script. Then she blamed her scene partner for the weakness of the scene. I thought all of that was BS. And now I know that Method acting is BS. As one of my students, now a professional actor, said about script analysis, "Just do the scene." I agree, if you want to be a student of what is in a script, analyze it. If you want to be an actor, "Just do it."

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