Tuesday, 1 February 2011


I have been thinking a lot about acting recently so I thought I would vent some of my thoughts at 1am on an outlet that nobody pays any attention too. We might as well start off with a bout of theatre bashing. I think a lot of people interested in acting would disagree but I wholeheartedly believe that the theatre is a crap medium for good acting. This seems kind of counter intuitive but I think if I can tell what your supposed to be thinking or feeling from the back of a theatre, then you can't possibly be acting well. Or at least not in a way that I would recognise as good acting. Let me elaborate. See, I'm a pretty rare breed of 20 something in that I watch the culture show on BBC2. If you aren't aware of it, it's generally full of self important wankers who toss off or criticise a bunch of pretentious bollocks, but they often mention good films that I might not otherwise hear of, so I watch it. And the thing is that every piece of theatre that they show on there looks rubbish, and this is supposed to the best of what's coming out. I really hope to meet someone who knows theatre and could show me where the hell I'm going wrong, cause I would hate to dismiss a whole art form off hand, but Jesus they're gonna have to be one persuasive bastard to get me to see how theatre isn't the most melodramatic waste of time in the world.

Anyway, back to acting. My limited knowledge on the subject has lead me to the following conclusions. I hope anyone reading this finds them useful.

1)You can never truly experience anything as someone other than yourself. The best you can hope for is a moment by moment emotionally honest performance based upon your own experiences.

2)Your character is defined more by what you do than by any intellectual notions of "who you are". Even psychopaths don't think of themselves as bad people, it is what they do which defines them. If you judge a character you will never be able to play him as anything other than a caricature.

3)You should avoid anything that will result in you monitoring yourself. You have to give yourself up to the events around you. Don't think about the effect you have on the audience or the results you are striving for. Don't tell us what you are thinking, just think it and we will see it.

4) Your costars are your most valuable resource, use them. Truly listen to the other actors and react to their energy. Fight for the ideal of staring your costar in the eye, even if they are ofscreen and the DOP says the eyeline doesn't look right.

5) Don't push. We don't have to see it when we are at the back of the room, we have to see it when your face fills a 40' screen. Subtlety is everything. In a theatre you need a soliloquy, in the cinema we can read your mind.

That is all.

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree.

    I have done a lot of work in Theatres as well as behind a camera and I came to pretty much the exact same conclusion.

    It's always a touchy subject though, when you bring it up around theatre bods. I am of the opinion that theatre is a hugely inferior storytelling medium than film, if for no other treason than film allows you to have more than one viewpoint. In theatre, you are a fixed distance from the stage at all times. And every person in there views the action from a different perspective.

    There is no doubt that there are some phenomenally good actors in theatre, most of whom end up coming to film, but in my experience you can get a lot further as a bad actor in theatre than you can on film.

    Film is merciless.