Part One -- Character!

Method or Biomechanics?


Dramatic Acting: see Monologue Pages!

THR321 Advanced Acting Fall'00

This page is a part of your homework; not only you have to undestand the text (and subtext), you have to have some ideas HOW you plan to express it, to communicate it. And this is what you bring to class or rehearsals to try on us!

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One more time! Actor, you better learn how to work with yourself on your own. You are your best teacher and the best personal trainer. You are your best manager and best friend!

Study the text, study your performance (secondary text), study YOURSELF (Part 3.Actor) and the profession!

Professional director spends an hour of rehearsals for every page of the script (Stanislavky could rehearsed for six years and drop the show, I can't do it in America). One page = 2 min. on stage. Your monologue runs between 1/2 and one page. You have to put your hour in before you come to work with me. You do what I do -- your breakdown of your text. And then we meet.

Count the seconds.

Think of yourself as an athlet -- blicnk of the eye is the record. The rest is preporation.

When we meet, we put it together as NEW!

Are you ready?

Sorry, folks. My sidetalking is the best I can do. We are not in the same space, but we are together in the same time.

I can't hyper-link everything. I can't fix the pages. I can't write, what I say and I can't say what I think.


Not enough time, my friends. Nothing else.



What attracts me to drama is that it is, in the most obvious way, what all the arts are upon a last analysis. A farce and a tragedy are alike in this, that they are a moment of intense life. An action is taken out of all other actions; it is reduced to its simplest form, or at any rate to as simple a form as it can be brought to without our losing the sense of its place in the world. The charcters that are involved in it are freed from everything that is not a part of that action... William Butler Yeats

First Text -- drama, the words.
Monologue breakdown -- looking for action.
It's misleadingly simple.
The Beginning, the Middle and the End.
Exposition, Climax, Resolution.
We know it for 25 centuries (read _The Poetics_ by Aristotle -- see 200X Basics).

I hope that any actor knows that there are such things as "acting theories." Craft of acting needs some systematic, organizational structure.

Acting is VERY practical business ("stage business" -- what is it?).
The secret is in application of acting theory. YOUR actual understanding of text, yourself and theory -- the performance. "Understanding" isn't enough in acting. You have to understand, to know, to feel, to move, to communicate all the above...

The major problem in acting classes is the gap between "understanding" and "doing." That's why actor needs TRAINING. The ability to perform, regardless your (personal) mood, today' situation on stage ("show must go on") and in the house ("dead public"). The show is a self-contained entity with an open structure: audience gives the new energy (fear) to actor, but an actor is acting for himself.

There are many floors in acting: we see only a tip of the iceberg -- performance.
Stanislavsky called it "Actor Prepares."
It takes a life to be a good actor. The learning never ends.

Three major states of "role" production:
I. Understanding -- "What" stage of working on your role.
II. Search, forms, discovery -- "How" stage.
III. Execution, development, perfection -- performance. And -- "why" -- why do you do it? Yes, you, personally (the most important, because if I do not understand YOU, I don't care).

What do we call "text breakdown"?
The deconstruction.
In order for you to create your "text" (performance), the original (dramatic) text has to be disassembled, understood in its own organization, evaluated (creative "reading"), re-assembled and put together by the actor as a performance (new "text").

The problem is right here -- how to do it? How to "open" the play, to figure out what is in there, and what is in there for me?


1. WHO? (inner conflict)
2. WHAT? (character's action, event)
3. WHEN? (time)
4. WHERE? (space)
5. WHY? (motivation)

Between "what" and "how" is "why" -- the secret.

5 Ws could be useful only if our answers are not abstract.
Age. How old is your character?
-She is twenty five?
Why not twenty six?
The exact age could be played if it's dramatic fact; her birthday (today, tomorrow), or being "25" prevents her from getting something what she could get at 26, or did she lost something becoming 25?
Understanding begins from not knowing.
-I don't understand my character.
Good. What don't you understand?
Instant "understanding" is an illusion, misunderstanding. Do you understand yourself? how about "knowing" instead of "understanding"? Do you know (recognize) your character? Could you place this character within the frame of your own experience? Does she remain you somebody? Is anything in you resemble her?

Who -- everything essential about your character.

Text breakdown is far from being a formal process. Meaning, logic, guesses are guiding you through this process of deconstruction.

When -- time of the day, season, historical era, and the day itself. Is it the Forth of July? Valentine day? Christmas? Friday? Monday? You have to help yourself to visualize the time of your character -- given circumstances.

SUMMARY: After you got some idea about the dramatic structure of your monologue, think about Physicalization and Body Breakdown.

Term introduced:

"Five Ws"
"Composition 1-2-3"
(see Glossary 1-2-3!)

Character Analysis (5 Ws)
Tests, questions: Select the monologue (see 3 Sisters), work on it and bring it to class.


WWWilde directory has the first act online: use the scenes for analysis.

Your have to have drafts of your role. The fine draft is nobody business, but yours. Director can design but not execute the design. You have to do it TOGETHER with the Public! This is where the masters are! That's why we have many shows: this is your most inportant rehearsals. If you understand it and if you know how to do it -- you are to become master.

Everything else we do is preporation for this final stage of the process -- and it's live and you are are on your own. Do you use the text, your body, your costume, your partners, the public....

Master knows how to do it -- to make all those element PLAY. Lights, pauses, movement -- there are so many! They are different every night! ReAct! InterAct! PreAct!

Are you ready?

Do it!

Then you come home -- and take it apart again, your performance -- what worked and what didn't. Why? Again, the analysis. Try it different. Any new ideas? Work on it. And give to the public tomorrow.

I hope you understand how important is to know HOW to take apart any element of the spectacle.

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