Acting Information

Acting is the work of an actor or actress, which is a person in theatre, television, film, or any other storytelling medium who tells the story by portraying a character and, usually, speaking or singing the written text or play. Most early sources in the West that examine the art of acting discuss it as part of rhetoric. While there is a set definition for the word "acting", there is no set definition for the phrase "to act". It is thought that the actor is typically supposed to "become the other", where the actor molds his or herself to the character. In all actuality, the actor should mold the character to his or herself based on common interests and goals that the character needs to achieve. This method is commonly taught through Constantin Stanislavski.

The first actor is believed to be Darby of Icaria, a young lady of ancient Greece. "Plays" of this time, called dithrombic chorus involved a chorus of 50 who sang the story to the audience. The possibly apocryphal story says that Thespis stepped out of the chorus and spoke to them as a separate character in the story. Before Thespis, the chorus in all plays would sing in a narrative way, "Dionysus did this, Dionysus said that." When Thespis stepped out from the chorus, he said "I am Dionysus. I did this." From Thespis' name derives the word thespian, meaning any sort of performer but chiefly an actor. The International Thespian is said to possess a number of skills, including good vocal projection, clarity of speech, physical expressiveness, a good sense of perspective, emotional availability, a well developed imagination, the ability to analyze and understand dramatic text, and the ability to emulate or generate emotional and physical conditions. Well-rounded actors are often also skilled in visual arts, emotional expressiveness, imitating dialects, accents and body language, improvisation, observation and emulation, mime, stage combat, and performing classical texts such as Shakespeare. Many actors train at length in special programs or colleges to develop these skills, which have a wide range of different art.

Not all people working as actors in film, television or theatre are professionally trained. Chances of succeeding as an actor are greatly enhanced by studying drama at a university or college, or acting classes in studios or conservatories. Conservatories typically offer two to four year training on all aspects of acting. Universities will offer three to four year programs, where a student can choose to focus on acting, while still learning about other aspects of theatre. Schools will vary in their approach, but in North America the most popular method taught is the 'inside out' technique, developed by Stanislavski in his early years and popularized in America by Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler. Others may include a more physical approach, following the teachings of Jerzy Grotowski and others. Other classes might include mask work, improv, acting for the camera workshops, etc. Regardless of a school's approach, students should expect intensive training in textual interpretation, voice and movement. Applications to drama programs and conservatories are through auditions in the United States. Anybody over the age of 18 can usually apply to drama school.

Wikipedia, Acting, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acting (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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