The Art of Acting

Most people do not realize how difficult acting really is. They think to themselves "I could do that." What do actors do, anyway? They talk, they walk, they love, they get angry, they crack jokes. They do what all humans do. Well the reality is its a lot harder than it looks. I'm currently involved in a production which opens May 4, 2010 at the Hollywood Fight Club theater. I've been studying the craft since for almost 20 years. Wow time flies. From personal experience, I have learned that when an actor strips away the phony stuff, then he is free to pursue his objective in rehearsals and build on the reality he finds and the work seems real. Stanislavsky fits rather nicely with the Aristotelian philosophic tradition, of which Ayn Rand is a part. Life is goal-oriented. Human action is purposeful. Aristotle writes about final causation, which means that a goal causes the action one takes to attain it. For instance, if your goal is to get to other side of the street, then the action you take (walking) is caused by your pursuit of that goal.The idea of a character having an objective or goal is, I believe, the most important part of Stanislavsky's teaching. Pursuing a character's goal causes the things an actor does in pursuit of that goal.Stanislavsky writes about a day in acting class when he told his students to find the brooch that was hidden in the curtains. The actors began looking through the curtains for the brooch. He then told them that there really was no brooch. The point was that the actions they had been taking were the actions they should take if they were to act like they were seeking a brooch. You don't indicate to the audience, "I am looking for a brooch," you just look for the brooch. Let's say you're a man playing a husband and wife scene. From your script analysis you decide your objective in this scene is to deceive your wife (which never happens, ladies). As you rehearse the scene, you find yourself avoiding eye contact with her because you don't want her to see you are lying. You mumble the end of one line because you don't want her to understand too clearly what you are saying. You laugh nervously at one moment and speak loudly when you try to change the subject at another moment. Now, when you were preparing the scene, you probably did not think, "Okay, I'll have shifty eyes, mumble here, laugh here, " You might have thought of some of those actions, but you probably discovered them as you pursued your objective. You and the director might consciously think of other things you can do and you might fine tune the raw material you discover as you rehearse. It all must be integrated around your objective. Once you have this reality, then you can further develop your character by putting yourself in circumstances or conditions using what Stanislavsky called "the magic if." If I were drunk, how would I walk? If I were effeminate, how would I move my hands? If you pursue your objective, then those results happen naturally and they look real. That's acting. It sounds simple, doesn't it?