Acting = Doing Stuff.
As an attempt to understand why I find actors so odd, I have started reading The Art of Acting by Stella Adler. After a few pages, I understood why actors are odd: they were taught by eccentric instructors like Stella Adler. But now, at chapter 3, I have a slightly better understanding of where she’s coming from. In the most basic sense, acting should be coming from an organic place, and in order for actors to become organic in vastly different situations, they have to build a vocabulary of “naturality,” if you will…
The first two chapters of this book focuses on laying the groundwork for building the attitude of an actor: while she does reject the overblown notion of Method Acting, Adler does endorse a sense that acting comes from the experiences and awareness of the world around the actor. Using memory and sense to convey how they are supposed to react to the objects and people on the stage around them.
She also had an exercise in which she asks her students to bring in an item from nature, so she can describe it in class as well as possible. The good example was standardly good. My not-so-successful example, was more sad-larious to me:
Linda: The rose is scarlet
Linda: it’s about four inches in diameter.
Stella: This isn’t math class. We don’t want abstractions. We want to be able to see. Is it all scarlet?
Linda: No. The edges are pink.
Stella: What about the stem?
Linda: The stem is dark green.
Linda: It’s just green.
Stella: Is that all that matters about the stem? What’s the most obvious thing about the stem?
Linda: I’m not sure.
Stella: It has thorns!
Personally, I don’t think acting is for Linda.
Stella has a few other things that she says in regards to acting on the stage and doing things in relation to how you’re acting — these lessons, to me, relate very well to writing:
1. Don’t use fancy words.Fancy words lead to fancy feelings. Don’t use words like “circumvent” when you mean “get around.” When you ask the butcher for two pounds of beef, he doesn’t say, “Shall I circumvent the fat?”…Tell me words that I fall in love with. “Circumvent” seems pretentious to me. Use words that reach me. Don’t use words that fail to connect.
2. You must recognize the significance of living every moment. You don’t have to amplify it — just recognize it. Recognize history. Recognize you’re a continuation of history.
Basically, Stella is telling me to keep it simple, and optimize every moment — don’t waste her freaking time!