Most of what I teach is from a working actor's
perspective, and many of my insights and my approach to training actors
are based on the technique and terminology developed by David Rotenberg
over the past two decades.
This style of the acting is a genre that has come to be called "cinematic
naturalism," which borrows heavily from Zola's earliest influence
on silent films and on the literary term Strindberg defines in the foreword to Miss Julie.
Naturalism has evolved rapidly since cinema has been an art form;
however, we can clearly see this genre/style grow
from the late 1930's "talkies" to present day, where Jimmy Stewart,
Spencer Tracy and Marlon Brando show us performances that
still resonate with
modern audiences, even as the film around them "pretends" or may be
"dated" by its style of storytelling.
Today acting on stage and acting on-camera
have almost become
different skill sets. TV audiences are more informed and
sophisticated now than they have ever been, even as a large portion
of the North American population has never read nor seen a actual stage play. (This
might seem a strange thing to ponder as a resident of Stratford, Ontario.)
What has become "good TV", what is
plausible and real to the average audience member, is held to a much
higher standard -- when it is a fictional, dramatic performance.
Reality TV is a
different animal entirely, and is perhaps definitive proof that audiences
require something "better", something more compelling.
Unfortunately, what is "real" to us has now been skewed by this
abomination, which is glorified voyeurism, and requires no actual
talent to produce. Reality TV is scripted, pretended life sold to
us as documentary, and must not be confused with actual documentaries,
which capture life in it's rawest and sometimes most compelling form.
As a result of Reality TV's influence and the
gaming culture that now dominates younger generations, audiences
and actors alike have been led to believe that
acting is "supposed to be easy," and that a talent lies within each of us in a set
With this I take exception: Talent is only
one aspect of an actor's success. Acting remains a great craft,
a worthy pursuit, which
requires discipline, self-understanding, imagination, life-long
commitment, and, of course, luck.
"You have to be good to
be lucky" is an expression that resonates for me as an actor and
performer. The reason to come to class is to practice, so the hit-ratio
and the bookings increase. Too many factors are involved in casting a
film or TV show. We must stay simply with what we can control: be
prepared, be grounded, come in with compelling choices, really
see your reader, and of course, play!
Many of the acting concepts
and terminology Marvin Hinz has referenced above are © David Rotenberg.