Thursday, April 12, 2012

Learning the Stage & Other Techniques Pt.2

 The Actor's Position on the Stage

There are five basic body positions that may be assumed in relation to the audience.
  1. Full front-The actor is facing the audience with both feet facing downstage and head also facing the audience.  This is the strongest and most “open” of all body positions.
  2. Full back- The actor faces the back wall of the stage, both feet facing upstage so that the audience sees only the actor’s back.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Learning the Stage & Other Techniques

Many people think theater is all about just getting up there and performing, and that's it.  Nothing could be further than the truth.  There are many things that an actor needs to know in order to make sure he/she is on the same page with fellow actors, the director, and other technical staff.

Stage Positions

Upstage and Downstage.  The area nearest the audience and footlights is called downstage.  The area in the back of the stage, near the back wall of the stage or setting, is called upstage.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Recurring Role: Keeping It Fresh

Ever wondered how people who perform day after day, month after month, the same role, keep the freshness or newness?  Well I'm going to give a couple of tips to help you or anyone with this dilemma.

The foundation and basis for this "phenomenon" is widely known in the theater arena as "The Illusion of the First Time".  I know, it's a long term, but very helpful.  What this basically means is that you are able to perform a role as if it's your "first

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What Type of Actor Are You? Part 3: Representational vs. Presentational Acting

Representational vs. Presentational Acting

Many times the type of play that an actor is playing in has a great influence on his/her approach to the role.  It also has an effect on how or if he/she plays to the audience.  These two acting styles that I will briefly talk about has to do with the actor's relationship with the audience.

Representational Acting
First of all, this style of acting gets its name from the fact that the actors give an

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Black History Tribute: Ira Aldridge (First African American Shakespearean Actor)

Ira Aldridge as Othello, 1830 by Henry Perronet Briggs

In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to talk about the life of Ira Aldridge, the first African American Shakespearean actor.  Just this past weekend, Saturday, February, 18th, 2012, I was given the job to video tape a One-Act Play called Ira Aldridge: The African Roscius, written by Jacqueline E. Lawton.  The play was part of The 23rd Annual Savannah Black Heritage Festival and was featuring Avery Brooks (Ira Aldridge) and Jewell Robinson (Amanda Ira Aldridge, his daughter).  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Story Behind the Comedy and Tragedy Masks

For many decades, the image of the theater masks have, universally, become like a symbol of theater or acting.  Generally, known as "the Comedy and Tragedy Masks" or just "the theater masks", there is much mystery as to where these two masks really originate from.  I was taught in school that these masks real names were Melpomene (Tragedy Mask) and Thalia (Comedy Mask).  These were taken from Greek Mythology.  Thalia, being the muse of comedy and pastoral poetry; and Melpomene, the muse of tragedy.  Muse, in this case, is a protector of an art or science.

Greek Mythology About Melpomene
The name Melpomene derives from the Greek verb melpĂ´ or melpomai meaning "to celebrate with dance and song."  Melpomene, according to Greek mythology, was the daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyn, born as the Muse of life and despair.  After Zeus' wife, Hera, found out that Zeus had slept with Melpomene and impregnated her with a daughter (Maria), she cursed Melpomene and made her the muse of death.  Melpomene slept with Zeus again, and had a son named Fill.  Hera cursed Melpomene again to be barren and made her the muse of tragedy. 

Greek Mythology About Thalia
The name Thalia derives from the Greek verb thallein, meaning "to flourish, to be verdant (abundance of vegetation)."  She was the muse that presided over comedy and idyllic poetry.  She was also known as the daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne.  According to the pseudo-Apollodorus (Greek library), she and Apollo were the parents of the Corybantes ( the armed and crested dancers who worshipped the Phrygian goddess Cybele with drumming and dancing.)  She is also portrayed as a young woman with a joyous air, crowned with ivy. 

On a more practical side, these masks and others like them, were worn in the Greek theater to distinguish the different emotions of the characters.  Their exaggerated look was so that people who were sitting far off were still able to see the character's emotions.  The mouths of the masks were enlarged and designed to make it easier for the actor to talk and for their voices to project to the back of the auditorium.  Actors were able to play more than one character because of the masks.  When they played other characters, all they had to do was change masks.  Talk about being two-faced...LOL.

Please click here for questions and comments. 

Friday, February 17, 2012