Springer, Claudia Rutgers University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PN1995.9.A26A26 2015 | Dewey Decimal 791.43028
Screen performances entertain and delight us but we rarely stop to consider actors’ reliance on their craft to create memorable characters. Although film acting may appear effortless, a host of techniques, artistic conventions, and social factors shape the construction of each role.
The chapters in Acting provide a fascinating, in-depth look at the history of film acting, from its inception in 1895 when spectators thrilled at the sight of vaudeville performers, Wild West stars, and athletes captured in motion, to the present when audiences marvel at the seamless blend of human actors with CGI. Experts in the field take readers behind the silver screen to learn about the craft of film acting in six eras: the silent screen (1895–1928), classical Hollywood (1928–1946), postwar Hollywood (1947–1967), the auteur renaissance (1968–1980), the New Hollywood (1981–1999), and the modern entertainment marketplace (2000–present). The contributors pay special attention to definitive performances by notable film stars, including Lillian Gish, Dick Powell, Ginger Rogers, Beulah Bondi, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Nicholas Cage, Denzel Washington, and Andy Serkis.
In six original essays, the contributors to this volume illuminate the dynamic role of acting in the creation and evolving practices of the American film industry.
Acting is a volume in the Behind the Silver Screen series—other titles in the series include Animation; Art Direction and Production Design; Cinematography; Costume, Makeup, and Hair; Directing; Editing and Special/Visual Effects; Producing; Screenwriting; and Sound.
The forty years from 1880 to 1920 marked the golden age of the American theatre as a national institution, a time when actors moved from being players outside the boundaries of respectable society to being significant figures in the social landscape. As the only book that provides an overview of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century theatre,Actors and American Culture is also the only study of the legitimate stage that overtly attempts to connect actors and their work to the wider aspects of American life.
Why do people act? Why are other people drawn to watch them? How is acting as a performing art related to role-playing outside the theater? As the first philosophical study devoted to acting, Acts: Theater, Philosophy, and the Performing Selfsheds light on some of the more evasive aspects of the acting experience— such as the import of the actor's voice, the ethical unease sometimes felt while embodying particular sequences, and the meaning of inspiration. Tzachi Zamir explores acting’s relationship to everyday role-playing through a surprising range of examples of “lived acting,” including pornography, masochism, and eating disorders. By unearthing the deeper mobilizing structures that underlie dissimilar forms of staged and non-staged role-playing, Acts offers a multi-layered meditation on the percolation from acting to life.
The book engages questions of theatrical inspiration, the actor’s “energy,” the difference between acting and pretending, the special role of repetition as part of live acting, the audience and its attraction to acting, and the unique significance of the actor’s voice. It examines the embodied nature of the actor’s animation of a fiction, the breakdown of the distinction between what one acts and who one is, and the transition from what one performs into who one is, creating an interdisciplinary meditation on the relationship between life and acting.
The best-selling script analysis book for thirty-five years
Considered an essential text since its publication thirty-five years ago, this guide for students and practitioners of both theater and literature complements, rather than contradicts or repeats, traditional methods of literary analysis of scripts.
Ball developed his method during his work as literary director at the Guthrie Theater, building his guide on the crafts playwrights of every period and style use to make their plays stageworthy. The text is full of tools for students and practitioners to use as they investigate plot, character, theme, exposition, imagery, conflict, theatricality, and the other crucial parts of the superstructure of a play. Also included are guides for discovering what the playwright considers a play’ s most important elements, thus permitting interpretation based on the foundation of the play rather than its details.
Using Shakespeare’s Hamlet as illustration, Ball assures a familiar base for clarifying script-reading techniques as well as exemplifying the kinds of misinterpretation readers can fall prey to by ignoring the craft of the playwright. Of immense utility to those who want to put plays on the stage (actors, directors, designers, production specialists) Backwards & Forwards is also a fine playwriting manual because the structures it describes are the primary tools of the playwright.
Guillaume: A Life
Robert Guillaume & David Ritz University of Missouri Press, 2002 Library of Congress PN2287.G795A3 2002 | Dewey Decimal 792.028092
Guillaume: A Life is the autobiography of esteemed Broadway, Hollywood, and television star Robert Guillaume. Ten months after suffering a stroke, Guillaume—perhaps best known as television’s Benson—began this autobiography with award-winning author and collaborator David Ritz.
The book goes beyond the recounting of a long and successful career to examine the forces that shaped the man: family, religion, race, and class. Startlingly candid and disarmingly self-aware, Guillaume seeks to know and understand himself, his treatment of the women in his life, and the choices he made along the way. He pursues the truth, however painful it may be, says Ritz, guided by two questions, “Who the hell am I?” and “What made me do what I did?”
Born in St. Louis in 1927 to a young, abused, unstable mother, and reared by a strong, hardworking grandmother, Robert Guillaume managed to move from the poverty and adversity of his youth to a rich, full career as an actor and a singer. Fierce determination and sharp focus enabled this man born to hardship and racial discrimination to study, learn, cultivate his natural talents, and succeed at the performance career he pursued with a vengeance. Guillaume first performed in the strict Catholic schools and churches to which his grandmother, who understood that education would be the key to any success he might achieve, sent him. There his love of classical music was nurtured, and he was encouraged to perform.
From a child longing for his mother’s love to a man unsure of the meaning of love for many of the women in his life, from a young performer struggling to succeed on Broadway and in Hollywood to a grief-stricken father watching his son die of AIDS, Robert Guillaume tells what it was like to realize celebrity and what he sacrificed in the process. Readers will savor the success story of this artist who achieved great recognition and fame, but who never lost sight of his beginnings. Appealing to all audiences, Guillaume is a revealing and poignant autobiography of an extraordinary and distinguished American thespian.
While Hollywood has long been called “The Dream Factory,” and theatrical entertainment more broadly has been called “The Industry,” the significance of these names has rarely been explored. There are in fact striking overlaps between industrial rhetoric and practice and the development of theatrical and cinematic techniques for rehearsal and performance. Interchangeable Parts examines the history of acting pedagogy and performance practice in the United States, and their debts to industrial organization and philosophy. Ranging from the late nineteenth century through the end of the twentieth, the book recontextualizes the history of theatrical technique in light of the embrace of industrialization in US culture and society.
Victor Holtcamp explores the invocations of scientific and industrial rhetoric and philosophy in the founding of the first schools of acting, and echoes of that rhetoric in playwriting, production, and the cinema, as Hollywood in particular embraced this industrially infected model of acting. In their divergent approaches to performance, the major US acting teachers (Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, and Sanford Meisner) demonstrated strong rhetorical affinities for the language of industry, illustrating the pervasive presence of these industrial roots. The book narrates the story of how actors learned to learn to act, and what that process, for both stage and screen, owed to the interchangeable parts and mass production revolutions.
In the past twenty years, we have seen the rise of digital effects cinema in which the human performer is entangled with animation, collaged with other performers, or inserted into perilous or fantastic situations and scenery. Making Believe sheds new light on these developments by historicizing screen performance within the context of visual and special effects cinema and technological change in Hollywood filmmaking, through the silent, early sound, and current digital eras.
Making Believe incorporates North American film reviews and editorials, actor and crew interviews, trade and fan magazine commentary, actor training manuals, and film production publicity materials to discuss the shifts in screen acting practice and philosophy around transfiguring makeup, doubles, motion capture, and acting to absent places or characters. Along the way it considers how performers and visual and special effects crew work together, and struggle with the industry, critics, and each other to define the aesthetic value of their work, in an industrial system of technological reproduction. Bode opens our eyes to the performing illusions we love and the tensions we experience in wanting to believe in spite of our knowledge that it is all make believe in the end.
Behind the mask, Appel notes, the student is free to create a personality; paradoxically, because the mask hides the self, it enables the student to probe more deeply into himself.
“This book describes, defines, and discusses the mask characterization process, providing the theory behind the exercises and the step-by-step procedure in the organic development of the character from the masks,” Appel notes. The manual is divided into two parts: “The Instructor’s Guide” and “The Actor’s Guide.” There is also an introductory chapter, “The Class Structure,” which explains mask characterization procedures in the classroom, and a sample class schedule may be found in the back of the manual.
This book adds a new dimension to actor training and learning. It is essential to aspiring actors seeking new ways to create honest dramatic characterizations.
Featuring period drawings and prints of swordplay, this book examines and compares three Elizabethan fencing manuals written in English before 1600: Giacomo Di Grassi’s His True Arte of Defense (1594), Vincentio Saviolo’s His Practice in Two Bookes (1595), and George Silver’s Paradoxes of Defence and Bref Instructions upon My Paradoxes of Defence (1599).
More than a technical manual on swordplay, this book explores the influence of a new form of violence introduced into Elizabethan culture by the invention of the rapier. The authors examine the rapier’s influence on the various social classes, the clash between the traditional English fencing masters and those embracing the new style, the growing concern with unregulated dueling, and the frequent references to rapier play in the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
As producer Joseph Papp notes in his foreword, this is a book that "makes a difference in performance."
There are hundreds of biographies of filmstars and dozens of scholarly works on acting in general. But what about the ephemeral yet indelible moments when, for a brief scene or even just a single shot, an actor’s performance triggers a visceral response in the viewer?
Moment of Action delves into the mysteries of screen performance, revealing both the acting techniques and the technical apparatuses that coalesce in an instant of cinematic alchemy to create movie gold. Considering a range of acting styles while examining films as varied as Bringing Up Baby, Psycho, The Red Shoes, Godzilla, and The Bourne Identity, Murray Pomerance traces the common dynamics that work to structure the complex relationship between the act of cinematic performance and its eventual perception.
Mining the spaces where subjective and objective analyses merge, Pomerance offers both a deeply personal account of film viewership and a detailed examination of the intuitive gestures, orchestrated movements, and backstage maneuvers that go into creating those phenomenal moments onscreen. Moment of Action takes us on an innovative exploration of the nexus at which the actor’s keen skills spark and kindle the audience’s receptive energies.
All performers know that "tuning up the body" is necessary to maximize performance. A person's mannerisms, habitual patterns of movement, and posture can block the capacity for expression, often without the performer even noticing. Physical Expression and the Performing Artist offers an organized approach to movement for actors, conductors, dancers, singers, musicians---for performers of any kind.
Capturing the energy of the popular workshops presented by master movement teacher Jerald Schwiebert, the book draws from the wisdom of hatha yoga, tai chi, and Pilates as well as from the teachings of Stanislavski, Structural Integration (Rolfing), Alexander, Feldenkrais, and Laban to provide a fresh and accessible approach to movement. More than 300 anatomical drawings help readers pinpoint specific muscles, joints, and actions as they explore the capacity of the performer's physical instrument, the components of dynamic movement, and the anatomy of expression. The book's many detailed exercises bring awareness of habitual and inefficient movement and introduce the steps necessary for more efficient movement patterns in all parts of the body. This book will prove indispensable in movement courses and as a resource guide for professionals seeking to take their performances to the next level.
The Purpose of Playing providesthe first in-depth introduction to modern critical acting, enabling students, teachers, and professionals to comprehend the different aesthetic possibilities available to today’s actors. The book presents a comparative survey of the major approaches to Western acting since the nineteenth century, their historical evolution, and their relationship to one another. Author Robert Gordon explores six categories of acting: realistic approaches to characterization (Stanislavski, Vakhtangov, Strasberg, Chekhov); the actor as a scenographic instrument (Appia, Craig, Meyerhold); improvisation and games (Copeau, Saint-Denis, Laban, Lecoq); political theater (Brecht, Boal); exploration of the self and other (Artaud, Grotowski); and performance as cultural exchange (Brook, Barba). The synthesis of these principal theories of dramatic performance in a single text offers practitioners the knowledge they need to contextualize their own practice within the wider field of performance, while encouraging theorists and scholars to be more sensitive to the material realities of artistic practice.
“This analysis of major movements and figures from the early nineteenth century to the present is clear, thorough, and penetrating, and its scope across periods, countries, and styles is impressive.”
--Xerxes Mehta, University of Maryland-Baltimore County
Robert Gordon is Reader in Drama, Goldsmiths College, University of London.
English actress Sarah Siddons (1755–1831) was an international celebrity widely acclaimed for her performances of tragic heroines.We know what Siddons looked like—an endless number of artists asked her to sit for portraits and sculptures—but what of her famous voice? In lively and engaging prose, Judith Pascoe journeys to discover how the celebrated romantic actor’s voice sounded and to understand its power to move audiences to a state of emotional collapse. The author’s quixotic endeavor leads her to enroll in a “Voice for Actors” class, to collect Lady Macbeth voice prints, and to listen more carefully to the soundscape of her own life.
The Sarah Siddons Audio Files is the first full-scale attempt to address the importance of the voice in romantic culture. Bringing together archival discoveries, sound recording history, and media theory, the book shows how the romantic poets’ preoccupation with voices is linked to a larger cultural anxiety about the voice’s ephemerality. The Sarah Siddons Audio Files contributes to a growing body of work on the fascinating history of sound, and will engage a broad audience interest in how recording technology has altered human experience.
In the late twenties, actors and directors of the Group Theatre, who were pioneering the use of Stanislavski's teachings, saw the value of teaching ballet and the emerging modern dance. Actors now routinely learn dance, but dancers rarely study acting. In The Six Questions, Nagrin maintains that a command of acting techniques allows the dancer to couple the passion of a body in motion with the heart and mind of the dancer.
In five parts, the book first examines the personal essentials demanded by dance. The second part looks at the pitfalls inherent in the act of performing from vanity to self-hatred. The third part, the core of the book, poses six questions: Who? is doing what? to whom? where and when? and why? and against what obstacle? In the fourth part, Nagrin looks at the tools for working on the role, and the fifth part enters into the very act of performing. All of the work is handled in terms of movement alone: no dialogue or scenes from plays are used.
The Six Questions is a companion piece to Nagrin's other works, How To Dance Forever, and Dance and the Specific Image: Improvisation. Together they present an invaluable teaching and learning tool for anyone in love with dance.
Throughout his lengthy career as both an actor and a director, Clint Eastwood has appeared in virtually every major film genre and, at this point in his career, has emerged as one of America’s most popular, recognizable, and respected filmmakers. He also remains a controversial figure in the political landscape, often characterized as the most prominent conservative voice in mostly liberal Hollywood. At Eastwood’s late age, his critical success as actor and director, his combative willingness to confront serious cultural issues in his films, and his undeniable talent behind the camera all call for a new and comprehensive study that considers and contextualizes his multiple roles, both on and off screen. Tough Ain’t Enough offers readers a series of original essays by prominent cinema scholars that explore the actor-director’s extensive career. The result is a far-reaching and nuanced portrait of one of America’s most prolific and thoughtful filmmakers.
Ronald J. Pelias is concerned with writing about performance, from the everyday performative routines to the texts on stage. He seeks to write performatively, to offer poetic or aesthetic renderings of performance events in order to capture some sense of their nature. In his quest for the spirit of theatrical performances, Pelias asks more of the written word than the word can deliver. Yet the attempt is both desirable—and necessary. To discuss performance without some accounting for its essence as art, he asserts, is at best misleading, at worst, fraud.
Pelias divides his efforts to present performance events into three general categories: "Performing Every Day," "On Writing and Performing," and "Being a Witness." "Performing Every Day" focuses on performances ranging from the daily business of enacting roles to the telling of tales that make life meaningful. It incorporates essays about the ongoing process of presenting oneself in everyday life; the gender script that insists that men enact manly performances; the classroom performances of teachers and students; stories of gender, class, and race that mark identity; and a performance installation entitled "A Day’s Talk."
"On Writing and Performing" examines the written script and performance practices. It includes a description of a struggle between a writer and a performer as they protect their own interests; an intimate look at an apprehensive performer; a short play entitled "The Audition"; and a chronicle of performance process from the perspective of an actor.
"Being a Witness" examines performance from the perspective of the audience and the director: being an audience member; viewing theatre in the context of New York City; directing and being directed by actors’ bodies; and watching The DEF Comedy Jam.