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Concepts in acting


The Elements of Style, as described by Sonia More in her simplified view of the Stanlislavski System, are clear rudimentary concepts designed to help actors achieve a profound and truthful portrayal of their character on the stage through personal connection with their character. These concepts are designed as tools for the actor so that he may connect to a character or situation on the stage that he otherwise would not be able to connect with.

As Sonia Moore put it, Stanlislovski knew that an actor's mind, will, and emotions must participate in the creation of a live human being on the stage. He also understood that it is impossible for people to turn their thoughts and emotions on and off as if by a switch. He also knew that no actor coming on stage without any reason for experiencing emotions would be unable to do so without some connection, or bridge, to the personal and emotional response of their character. So Stanlislovski designed tool for the actor to use to help him connect with the emotional and physical world of his character.

Such concepts as The Magic If is a clear example of a tool an actor could use to connect himself the life of the character. The Magic If, simply guides the actor to ask the simple question: "What would I do if I were in my character position?" By asking this question of himself the actor can personalize the given circumstances of the character. The situation of the character becomes more personal, and the stakes much higher, because the actor has divulged some particular issues of himself into the character. Due to these particularities the actor will work out the given circumstance of the character in a much more truthful manner. Even in acting the old saying goes: "You cannot really know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes." This concept of The Magic If also plays a big part in another Element of Action -Imagination.

Imagination is another tool that allows the actor to build a substantial relationship with his character by creating the very universe in which his character resides. Through this artistic imagination the actor can create the past, present, and future of the character. The actor, in essence, could play God wherein the character is concerned apart from given circumstances or the circumstances that exist within the play. This artistic imagination is being used to give thoughts and feeling to the character being portrayed by simply infusing honesty and truthfulness into the actor's performance.

There are other Element's of Actions that guide the actor to form precise, logical and honest connections to the character he is portraying --Emotional Memory and Tempo-Rhythm for instance. However, the duality of the Elements of Action are in the ways they connect the actor to the emotional state of his character, as well as the physical reality of the story, the audience, and the other characters that exist in the story. In the same as there are Elements of Action that connect the actor to the emotional side of the character, there are also those that connect the actor to the physical elements of acting and the physical element of the character. There are also concepts designed to let the actor explore the relationship between characters, and the character's relation as it exist within an ensemble. An example of this would be Adaptation.

Adaptation is an Element of Action that is really the overcoming of an obstacle to achieve personal aim. Adaptation is being perceived as the personal choices the actor make in regard to his character while responding to outside stimulus. By placing the Who, What, When, Where, and Why, into his movements, the actor can achieve logic and definition to his movements or motivations. The actor must know what his character is doing, and where his character is doing it in order for him to properly motivate his movements to fit his actions. This is so the actor will not appear to be moving just for the sake of moving. This precise movement is what the actors use to work around the given circumstances of the play.

Given Circumstances are all that the actor encounters while he creates a role. Given Circumstance could be the coming together of all external factor. These factors are the concepts that must come into play while shaping the confines of a character. How we behave or act depends solely on the environment in which we exist. The actor must consider the Given Circumstance in order for the character to exist truthfully in the confine of his circumstance. For example, the audience would not expect to find a dainty southern bell in the heart of a Brooklyn ghetto slum, unless the Given Circumstance of the story was stated as such. This is the tool actors can use to connect their characters to their environment.

It becomes evidently clear that the Elements Of Action are basic tools in concept, and design for the actor to use to not only connect with his character, but also with the audience and the other players in the story as well. These elements are tools that the actor can use to consciously tap into the unconscious realm of his emotional responses. Whether from Tempo-Rhythm, Concentration or Attention, Truth and Belief, to Imagination, Given Circumstance, and Adaptation, all can be used by the actor to achieve a phycophysical connection into the subconscious realm of his emotional responses. When this occurs, he can best achieve improvisation due to inspiration in performance. It is this most of all, the Author believes, is the

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