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Acting for Dummies 101
Transcript of Acting for Dummies 101
Stanis in a Nutshell
“I believe you, I don’t believe you.” These are the two things that Stanislavski would say to actors to tell them if they have made their character believable or not.
This presentation will explore Stanislavski’s methods of training actors to develop a convincing character as well as my personal experience.
Konstantin Stanislavski is known as the father of naturalistic acting, and is famous for the methods he developed before WW2 in the Moscow Art Theatre which he co-founded.
Stanis’ system is world-renowned for its effectiveness in training actors, as well as to dispose of the past melodramatic acting.
He was an actor, director, actor trainer and theatre theorist.
Stanislavski did not think that the actors could truly believe what was happening on stage.
However, they could believe in the possibility.
Actors would ask themselves “what if?”
This makes the character’s objectives, the actor’s objectives.
It forces the actor to imagine the circumstances and what they would do if they were in them.
It helps when the actor imagines details of and object, person or action as to create an internal image to help them believe in the possibility of reality.
Tempo-Rhythm is the pace at which a character does certain tasks.
This technique contains two parts, inner and outer. Inner tempo-rhythm suggests how a character thinks and feels. It is the tempo that is within the character that no one can see, but it will change their way of talking.
Outer tempo-rhythm suggests how the character acts. The actor can change these tempos in different circumstances according to the character. It is the tempo that one can physically see.
For example, the relaxing tempo one has when strolling in a park vs. the tempo when you are late for a meeting and rushing to get there.
Circles of Attention (Large)
There are three main circles of attention: a large, medium and small.
Unlike the fourth wall to help separate the actors from the audience, circles of attention are there to help the actor focus on certain things during a performance.
The large refers to what is happening around the actor, the entire stage, set, audience, other actors, it could even be beyond the stage as a part of the actor's imagination etc.
Born to the wealthy Russian Family, the Alekseyev.
Stanislavski was his stage name that he took up to protect his family’s honor and reputation.
Though his family wasn’t ashamed of his acting career, acting in those days of Russia was looked down upon.
He wanted to show the world how difficult of a profession acting was.
Stanislavski developed several techniques for actors.
These techniques involved elements that would help an actor develop their characters and be believable on stage.
NO MORE MELODRAMATIC ACTING
He revolutionized acting by taking aspects of the actors personal life and used them to round the character's actions and dialog.
I chose to do a monologue with Ridha and throughout the experience I made use of several of Sanislavski's techniques to make my performance as naturalistic as possible.
Objectives and Super-Objectives
A super objective refers to the character’s main goal that thrives throughout the entire plot.
This links to the smaller unit objectives of the character and things that they do in order to achieve their super-objective.
For an actor to be effective, they must know the character’s motives.
His father manufactured gold and silver thread for, military uniforms.
He first performed for his family’s entertainment in their home theatre.
Throughout Stanislavski’s acting career he kept journals that documented his observations and problems.
It was this “self-analysis” that birthed his world-renowned system later on in his life.
Stanislavski chose not to attend university but to rather work in his family’s business.
He did study at the Moscow Theatre School where the students were taught to act the same melodramatic way.
He was not happy with the way they were taught to act, which caused him to leave after just more than two weeks.
Imagination is the key to Stanislavski’s system and maybe the most important.
It is essential for an actor to turn what is happening on stage into theatrical reality(things that could only be realistic in theatre, eg. Dragons, talking animals, etc.), if not then it the actor will not believe and then the audience will not believe.
It is an actor’s imagination that allows them to connect to their character in order to form a naturalistic and believable role.
One must create an image in one’s mind about who the character is, how they act, how they look and what their surroundings are in order to get a good feel of how to act and react in certain situations.
Given circumstances represent the information given by the author.
These include the setting, character description as well as what characters do or say around you.
Simply, it is what happens in the story because the writer says they can happen, even if in reality they are not possible.
It is also the time and place that the play occurs in.
Sense memory refers to an actor's memories of things they have: seen, heard, smelt, felt, tasted.
Actors would find a certain memory which would be triggered at a certain point in a scene to provide a realization for the actor about the situation, which in turn if the actor believes, would make the audience believe.
For example, if in a script a character must walk through a sewer and smell the horrible sensation, the actor would imagine a time in their life when they had smelt something horrible which would make the reaction more naturalistic.
The audience would not know what memory the actor is using, or if they are using it at all, but they would see the effect and it would suspend disbelief.
Similar to sense memory, emotion memory refers to things that the actor has felt.
Actors would find a memory from their life that corresponds to or give a similar reacting to the circumstances in the play.
For example, if a character, Romeo, has just lost their true love the actor in order to react realistically must find a memory in which they felt a similar sorrow.
This would make the audience believe that what the actor is feeling is true.
However, there are problems that could occur such as if a trigger memory is once of loss, the actor may become overwhelmed and lose sight of what their character is meant to be doing.
This refers to a larger area that includes a group of actors and nearby objects.
This is the area that are in the immediate surroundings of the character.
All these circles of attention require a keen sense of focus to concentrate on certain aspects at certain times and could prove difficult for actors to perfect in a scene.
Subtext: Internal Images
Internal images refers to what the actor is picturing in their head as they are saying the text. In theatre this could be their surrounding as one is on stage there may not be a strong wind and snow on a mountain but if the actor can imagine the circumstance of their surroundings, they will be able to act accordingly.
Subtext: Internal Monologue
This refers to what the CHARACTER is saying in their head as they are saying the scripted text.
This would help the actor in the sense that if one knows the true intention for the words then you would know how to say them.
For example, "It must be hard being so beautiful."- Ruckus in the Garden, could be said sarcastically, jealously, honestly, etc. There are several ways to say thing and knowing the internal monologue for the specific artistic intention, one would know how to say the text.
By: Ingrid Cory :)
How I Used Tempo-Rhythm:
I used tempo-rhythm after I came up with my internal monologue as it helped with the tempo-rhythm.
This helped me because knowing the character's internal thoughts, I could visualize how she would act in an awkward conversation and when she is truly sincere. (the tempo-rhythm change)
How I could have used Sense Memory:
I could have imagined a specific time when went camping in the forest, the fresh air and smell of moss, the slight breeze and the crackling of the camp fire, the scenery, etc.
This would have helped me visualize the actual set around me as a setting in the woods where the scene occurs, and by having this information I would be able to act accordingly.
How I used Internal Monologue:
Through the character's internal monologue I got a sense of the character's thoughts. I chose 20 distinctive lines from the monologue and gave them 'context' by writing what the character might be thinking while saying that based on what I already know about the character and my character analysis.
How I used Imagination:
In my opinion the most important, imagination. Throughout the process I made use of my imagination when it was for my character analysis, subtext, sense memory, emotion memory, etc. You require this essential talent to imagine what a character WOULD do IF they were in those circumstances, how they would react.
Stanislavski was the second child of ten.
He was shy and had a speech impairment.
He created his stage name based on a famous ballerina.
He and Nemirovich-Danchenko became partners.
They co-founded the Moscow Art Theatre with Danchenko.
Stanis was the artistic director who would create the show and Danchenko was the production manager who would choose the venue, etc.
How I used Magic-If:
During our first class we did an exercise involving a piece of paper, we were told to imagine that this piece of paper was a bird. Each person had their own way of imagining the bird, whether it as how they gently touched it or how they looked at it and described its details. Everyone ended up with an image/idea of the bird which is why when Mrs. Kennedy stomped on it, everyone was shocked, because no one expected her to kill the tiny bird. This helped because it showed me how to truly believe something that is not real, is there because of the details you give it.
How I used emotion memory:
I took a memory from my past when I was very anxious for a part in my scene where Lea is talking about something awkward and a frustrated memory when she is debate (one sided debate) with Phil.
Using these memories from my own experience I already had a sense of how to say them and what could make me feel this way.
I chose memories the were not too overwhelming so that I could Still control the emotion.
How I used circles of attention:
When I focused on the forest of my childhood that I imagined I was in, when I was directing my voice to the audience, When I was Using/touching objects around me and when I was focused on one actor.
By using circles of attention it helped when I was blocking my script as it allowed me to know where to direct my body.
Date: 26 February 2014
How I used objectives:
My character's super objective was to change the world in any way and she attempts to do this throughout the entire play by using her metaphorical way of speaking to convince people to do the right thing.
However, her unit objective include her getting Phil's attention and she tries to do this by constantly talking to Phil and even trying to kill herself to get him to notice her.
How I used internal images:
I created an internal image of a forest i have been to when I was a child. I thought of the smells, sights, sounds, etc. of the forest.
I created this image because this was part of setting in the given circumstances.
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