By Melissa Bruder, Lee Michael Cohn, Madeleine Olnek, Nathaniel Pollack, Robert Previtio, Scott Zigler, David Mamet
6 operating actors describe their tools and philosophies of the theater. All have labored with playwright David Mamet on the Goodman Theater in Chicago.
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Additional resources for A Practical Handbook for the Actor
The audience comes to the theatre set to believe the story. The actor comes to the theatre to help tell the story, not by tricking himself into believing things he knows aren’t true, but by applying the tools he has developed to create an illusion. Now that we have described the elements comprising a good as-if, here are the major pitfalls to guard against when you begin to use your imagination in this very disciplined manner. Be wary of as-ifs that are too close to your personal life. For certain people something incredibly emotional, such as the recent death of a loved one, is not good material for an as-if because it will close them off.
She won’t come! … You stinker! You whelp of a Polack, you! I hope they do haul you in and turn the firehouse on you, same as last time! STANLEY (humbly): Eunice, I want my girl to come down with me! EUNICE: Hah! ) STANLEY (with heaven-splitting violence): STELL-LAHHHHH! (… The door upstairs opens again. Stella slips down the rickety stairs in her robe … they come together … 1. What is the character literally doing? We decided that Stanley was screaming for Stella to come home to him. You might have a different way of phrasing this; for the sake of this example, let’s assume that this is the most accurate description of Stanley’s lines.
The action must be something it is possible to fail at; you cannot fail at an errand. 6. An action cannot presuppose any physical or emotional state, either in you or in your partner. , hunger, anger, sorrow, drunkenness), because they are not within your control. Any action requiring you to put yourself into a certain state before or during a scene will force you to act a lie, the truth being that you are not actually in that state. If you try to work yourself up into a certain state for a scene, your attention will be entirely on the creation and maintenance of that state rather than on your action.
A Practical Handbook for the Actor by Melissa Bruder, Lee Michael Cohn, Madeleine Olnek, Nathaniel Pollack, Robert Previtio, Scott Zigler, David Mamet