The pandemic has brought people to take notice of the arts. After the lockdown has been enforced on several countries, the world came to a standstill. People were not able to go out in fear of catching the virus – or because they already caught it. In any case, everyone just had to spend more time indoors. People coped in different ways. Some turned to gardening, gaming, knitting, revamping their look, reading, and binge-watching movies in Netflix. Many have come to idolize and discover new actors through watching shows and movies online. They have come to appreciate the art, but there is more to understand about acting. This descriptive essay will shed light on the art of acting.
What is Acting?
Acting is an activity in which a person tells a story by means of enactment or adopting a character. Acting is seen in theater plays, television, film, radio, podcasts, or any other medium that makes use of the mimetic mode. By acting, one portrays how they would act as the character in a play or film – usually as directed by the director but some allow the actor to fully express himself the way he perceives his character. The portrayal of a character in a book or film is the act of personating a role.
Filmmakers recognize the role and ability of an actor as an artist. The actor is the most vital part in the visual medium of film and theater because the actor is the one that ties together the hard work of all the other crew members. The actor’s job is to translate an engaging and believable portrayal of the written character and bring it to life. More often than not, the success of a play or film depends on the actor because it is a visual medium. The work of the crew backstage or off-cam will be all for naught if the actor is not well-suited nor effective in his role.
There could be great direction, compelling story and visuals, soulful music; but all this can be downplayed if the actor does not give justice to their roles and to the story. For this to be done, an actor needs to be a team player, good listener, observer, able to take directions, be intuitive, and must possess a tangible acting range. Effective acting cannot be achieved by relying on one’s pure talent alone. The actor must be ready to be molded and changed by his role and the director.
Screen Acting vs. Stage Acting
As mentioned earlier, acting is present in theater plays, television, film, radio, and podcasts. While the actors – or voice actors for radio and podcasts – are known to be acting, the way the actors act for each medium has distinctive difference to one another. Each of those mediums require an actor who are specialized or at least have prior knowledge about how to act for a specific medium. This paper will only focus on acting for theater plays – the stage – and acting for films.
The oldest form of acting is of course stage acting. Stage acting has its origins from the Greeks who used to perform in an open theater. This means that the theater is outdoors and that the stage is found in the center of the structure and is surrounded by the audience. The top-most seats in the ancient Greek theater is elevated up to the point where the audience can barely see the actors. In Greek plays, the only concern for this set-up was hearing the actors since they barely move and only use the modulation of voice as a means of acting.
It was the Romans, who adopted the Greek theater, who introduced what we know as stage acting – though quite a bit exaggerated than usual. The actor’s facial expression is usually hidden by the mask in both Greek and Roman theater. Even if this was the case, the gestures and vocal technique make up for the emotions of the character that can only be seen on the mask.
Stage acting requires actors to exaggerate facial expressions and gestures when acting. Their facial expressions should be easily read, doing gestures should make full use of their hands, arms, and feet, and they need to speak in a strong, clear voice. Even though one does not act like that in real life, this method is effective in the theater and does seem natural. Stage actors are skilled in making their movements and speech understood by the live audience. Slurred words and unseen expressions can affect the show as they might be misunderstood by the audience.
On the other hand, screen acting is what people nowadays are more exposed to because of the online streaming, movies, and television. Screen acting is very different from stage acting because in screen acting, the actors have a chance to polish a scene by retaking it. In stage acting, polishing up must be done in rehearsals because actors only get a single chance to do what they are supposed to in live shows. Screen actors uses their skills in imagination, vocal technique, and facial expressions differently from stage actors.
Contrary to popular belief, screen acting is not easier than stage acting. Yes, screen acting gives room for improvement by the actor during a shoot, their facial reactions and gestures need not be exaggerated, and they are allowed to speak in quieter tones. However, screen actors are expected to come to the set fully prepared and ready to act on the director’s cue. There are even times when they are only given the script minutes or hours prior the shoot. A stage actor’s skill in memorizing lines for the full show is extraordinary but it doesn’t mean that the screen actor’s skill in memorizing lines should be discredited.
Method Acting vs. Technical Acting
Method acting is an impressive range of training and rehearsal techniques that seek to encourage sincere and emotionally expressive performances through encouraging actors to immerse themselves in the world of the characters they are playing. By using this technique, actors are able to accurately inhabit their roles. Method acting means an actor never breaks character until the last shot of the movie – even when the camera turns off and he is alone.
A method actor uses personal identification and internalization of the character he or she is portraying to better discover the motivation behind that character's actions and mindset. In finding recognizable and human traits, the method actor also wants the audience member to identify with the character. Before shooting a film, some actors even take on the role or job of their character in real life. If their character is a taxi driver in a busy city, they will immerse themselves into being an actual taxi driver in a busy city until it feels natural – that they are no longer playing a role but living it.
On the contrary, technical acting is when an actor eliminates feeling the role and relies wholly on acting techniques that can be learned in classes. Technical actors play the part without letting their character take over their life. In technical acting, actors conceptualize the character they are portraying. It is not necessarily a naturalistic or realistic depiction of a person you might encounter in life.
The success or failure of a film depends to a large degree on how well the actors play their individual characters. The actor’s primary responsibility is to bring the character to life. The audience relates at an emotional level to the characters on the screen. Method actors are more popular because critics and the audience are amazed by their performances. However, it is the director’s call if he prefers an actor to do method or technical acting.
Types of Actors
Aside from the nuance of screen, stage, method, and technical acting, there are also different types of actors and what they do on stage or on cam. An actor may be known to stick to a role that’s similar to all his other previous roles or he may be known to be versatile. Each actor has a distinctive style of his own that the director makes use of to enhance the quality of his play or film.
- Personality actors are actors who take their persona with them from role to role. Personality actors make use of their own personality in playing the role instead of learning about the character he is playing. As a result, reading the actors’ name alone from can tell the audience what to expect in a film since personality actors rarely stray from their usual roles.
- A character actor is the exact opposite of personality actors. Character actors research on their roles and detaches themselves from their character. They do not allow their own personality to come to the surface as this will make them break character.
- Chameleon actors are like an upgraded version of character actors. Chameleon actors can play a variety of unrelated roles. They are known to be versatile and can successfully take on any personality and even change their external features for a role. Chameleon actors inhibit their character, most use method acting to achieve this, blend in and make themselves unrecognizable.
- Nonprofessional actors add verisimilitude or authenticity to the story being told. Their raw performance gives something to the film that a seasoned actor could not possibly contribute. Directors found working with nonprofessional actors interesting because they get to stick with their actor’s actual life and simultaneously test what else they can do with the actor’s personality and experiences to enhance their performance.
- An impersonator mimics people for a role, mainly in historical or biographical films. However, this is also seen in comedic skits which is why some are saying that it is not actually a type of acting. Impersonating an actual person, living or historical, takes skill and research. One simply cannot impersonate another person without acting the part.
- Name actors are actors who are already established in the industry and have made a name for themselves. Name actors have a distinctive on-screen persona and their fans often become invested in the actor’s private life. Financiers of the play or film are assured of earning back their investment with a huge profit because of the name actor – but this depends on the name actor’s previous performances and public image.
- Typecast actors are actors that are cast in the same roles for most of his career – unless he manages to break the glass ceiling – because he is deemed fit for that role. Personality actors are the ones often typecasted.
- Background actors do not have lines to memorize. They are actors who appear in the background of scenes. Their purpose is to make the scene look more authentic. They may be passers-by, partygoers, hotel guests, etc.
- Ensemble actors emphasize their interactions with other actors – not one individual actor but usually 3 or more. This is more commonly observed in theater. Ensemble actors makes sure that they are not overshadowing the other actors but instead complements each other.
With all these types of acting and specialties of actors, one may think that acting is very complicated and it may be hard to start trying it. But actually, the process of acting is simple. An actor has to memorize their lines – usually verbatim, but some directors allow adlibs – be in touch with the character of the role they are playing, mind the environment in which the scene takes place, and give a performance that is believable.
There was mention of nonprofessional actors earlier. More often than not, they have no prior experience of acting yet are able to give amazing performances. With the help of directors and the other crewmembers, they were able to achieve this. Bottom line is, being a successful actor does not require one to be a professional and do method acting. Acting’s core is creating a believable and compelling character on-screen that will effectively capture the audience’s attention and have them want to see more.
Writing a movie review or theater play review involves analyzing aesthetic and technical aspects of the film or play. This, without question, includes observing the performance of an actor. A student who is not into film or theater arts may not be able to observe critical reactions – or lack thereof – of an actor. If you are not that confident of writing a movie review yourself, send us a message here at CustomEssayMeister. Our professional writers are experts in different fields and some proved to be excellent in writing custom creative essays about films or plays.
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Lindsay, B. (2021, January 6). How to Find Your Type as an Actor. Backstage Magazine. https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/find-type-actor-3730/