It takes energy, impulse, determination and faith to achieve even what we might consider to be insignificant goals, on stage or in everyday life. What is essential, however, is the process leading up to the realization of those objectives. Peter Brook put it this way: "Acting begins with a tiny inner movement so slight that it is almost completely invisible." It then grows, turns into energy, energy into impulse, impulse into desire, desire into determination; for achievement to take place we need faith, we need to believe in our actions and in the possibility of success.
Is that not also what happens in a love relationship? First an inner movement appears. A message emerges in our most innermost self. It manifests itself in the form of excitement, a surge of energy causes our heart to beat faster, an impulse brings our hands to feel the warmth of her arm; if the impulse receives a go-ahead signal the caress takes on more determination and becomes a hug, the hug a kiss: both bodies become possessed with desire and believe in the need to consummate the act of love.
Each character an actor attempts to enliven has different levels of energy according to the circumstance or persons with which he or she must interact. She is seated gazing out the window. Suddenly she gets up, picks up the telephone receiver and dials a number. What led her to do that? Had she been carrying on an interior discussion concerning whether or not to call? Something caused her to act with determination, although she might also have repressed her movement stopping short of lifting the receiver.
In real life we rarely plan our movements with the decisiveness with which an actor organizes his actions. However, everything an actor does on stage is considered by the spectator as purposeful. If the woman is looking out the window, it must be for some reason; if she suddenly picks up the telephone receiver, it certainly is because she has taken a decision.
The beauty of the acting experience is the richness of meaning which the artists puts into each action, the realization that each action is interconnected but fundamentally different from the previous movement or the subsequent action. Acting is about transcendence and is dialectical in nature. Every action is the continuation and elaboration of a previous action which then gives way to yet another and in the process of exploring these different stages the actor seeks transcendence, transcendence based on the characteristics of his character and the script he is working on.
“A slight movement of the spine, a change in the direction of a look, can tell something about the inner life of the character and project his thoughts,” says Sonia Moore. Acting indeed is an extremely complex process, as is life itself. An actor speaks not only with the words he says but with the tension or relaxation of his body, with his silence, with the tone of his voice, with the expression in his eyes, with the images which surge in his mind, with the memories which flash in his consciousness when he straightens his tie or examines his face in the mirror.
Yet there is great generosity in acting. What is done on stage is not for the actor’s stage companion; it is for the audience. Whatever the characteristics of the play might be, the purpose is to allow the spectator to “participate” in his or her own way in the actions, in the emotions, in the search for a solution to the conflict and in the thought processes of the characters on stage. The actor’s energy, impulses, determination, will power and belief are transmitted to the viewers, who in turn re-elaborate them. Thus acting is a powerful communicative experience which allows players and viewers to leave commonplace reality behind for a while and enter into a world charged with new significance.
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