December 06, 2018
After watching this scene performed/filmed in the context of five different theatre theorists, I believe my greatest takeaway was that the theories are not like a template inserted onto the scene, but rather an idea that begins in the mind of the actor first. What I mean is that for Stanislavsky, the actor based their performance on memory of emotion, and that was apparent in the way they interacted with the objects and the objects’ memories. The feeling of the actor’s performance was then duplicated by the cameraman and the director. In every situation, I believe that the theory is first applied to the actor and then that affects all other aspects of what the audience sees. So although I was initially wary of how I could make a performance like this, given the exaggerated use of full sets, camerawork, closeups, angles, and so forth, I now believe that the most important thing is applying my chosen theory to my acting. Once I am affected internally by the theory, I believe that the performance outside of the actor (me) will fall in line naturally with my internal performance.
With regard to the individual working of each theatre theory, here are the differences I gleaned:
the Stanislavsky performance , as I said before, clearly emphasized the character’s memories as they were connected with objects and used a lot of silence/heavy breathing to escalate the tension of the scene. For the Brecht performance, alienation was used in a variety of instances (e.g. adding “she said” to Ophelia’s monologues), along with a song reminiscent to a musical performance. For the Brook performance, a lot of emphasis was placed on the subtleties of details (e.g. what was in the box, as seen briefly, the rocks in her hands, etc.) which resulted in there being more of a story hinted at, but different from Stanislavsky in that we don’t see Ophelia’s emotions in such a dramatic, played out way. For the Artaud performance, there was a theme of reality being distorted (it kind of came across as someone playing with filters on a camera, like I did in 6th or 7th grade with my computer), and it bore a lot of resemblance to perhaps theatre of the absurd, in the way that it sought to unsettle the audience. For the Grotowski performance, the focus was entirely on the actor (although this was achieved by the focus of the camera, which I think is sort of cheating), it gave an isolated feel and I liked that the actor’s performance was so effectively singular.
My introduction to the solo theatre project coincided with a number of unfortunate circumstances and events in my personal life. For this reason, I knew very early on that I wanted to do something dramatic and emotionally mature, as a theatrical outlet for what I was going through in my real life. As I was researching different theorists, I noticed that was very attracted to Stanislavski’s stye of dramatic performance and the way it used emotional memories of the actor. I have been interested in experimenting with method acting for a long time now, I thought that this project would be a timely place to contextualize an introduction to method acting. As I further researched Stanislavski, I found an interesting exercise for building experience that he would employ himself, of observing people (strangers) in villages, learning their behavior, and then dressing as them and trying to pass himself off as an elderly peasant or some such village character. Apparently he did this with some success. It would be difficult for me to pass myself off in a nearby town as a peasant, seeing as how the class lines are not as rigid or recognizable as they were in Stanislavski’s time, but the practice of observation is singularly alluring to me as an acting technique. Another quality of his theatre which appears to me is the potential for political or social empowerment in the experience of the actor. Method acting seems to be in many ways like an enhanced form of basic empathy, and I think that if it can be correctly applied to certain situations that it might be able to bridge some gaps in our society which have been a change to empathetic connections. For instance empathy between genders, sexes, races, ethnicities, or whatever categories are seen as divisions in society as opposed to commonalities. I want to try to change myself to do something like this; to portray a character that has entry different experiences than me and to find ways in which that experience is similar to something that I can experience.
December 10, 2018
December 18, 2018
After further researching Stanislavsky and his theatre theory of method acting, I’ve taken particular interest with the method of observation. In this theatre technique, which is often a starting point for constructing an actor’s character in Stanislavsky’s theory, the actor spends time observing strangers or people without their knowledge and then emulating them. Typically, this is done in a public space like a train station. Stanislavsky was known for watching peasants in local villages to his theatre and then dressing up as them and passing himself off as an older peasant among the locals.
In order to experiment more with this technique, I’ve decided to begin my acting process by experimenting with this technique at a public location like a store or a museum. In order to help me understand the successfulness of this, I hope my mentor will be able to observe me, possibly record me, and give me an idea of what was effective or what was not in terms of developing a character or taking on the attributes of another person.
In addition to my research with this method of observation, I’ve also been conducting research into the script or idea for script that I might use for the solo performance. The first thing that jumped out to me as unexplored potential for a solo piece was the medium of poetry. I think it would be incredibly interesting to take a piece of poetry (Written by someone else) that wasn’t necessarily meant for live performance and then use a character that I derive through Stanislavsky’s method to create a piece of theatre. Some of the poetry that stood out to me were more narrative, medium-length pieces including some by Rumi, James Baldwin, and W.B. Yeats.