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
illusion that the audience is watching a representation of life.  It is as though the audience doesn't even exist; they are separated the invisible "fourth wall" of the setting.  The audience is peeking (or peeping) in on the scene, and the actor is unaware of the audience's presence.  This style of acting is mostly in realistic plays or plays with realistic themes.

Presentational Acting
This style of acting is more theatrical or larger than the other style.  There is no attempt to disguise the fact that the actor is on stage, performing for an audience.  There are some speeches that are delivered directly to the audience (an aside).  An aside is dialogue spoken directly at the audience in order reveal information or further the plot along.  It is mostly intended for the other characters not to hear it.  Movement and speech is given not to reflect life, but to heighten it.  The presentational style of acting was mostly found in the plays of the past (Shakespearean, Greek tragedies, and other stylistic genres).  The most popular and closest relative of this style today is the musical comedy.  Who actually breaks out into song real life?  Well, besides that guy who begs for money downtown...But that's besides the point (LOL).

Basically, the representational style of acting is actor- and scene-focused.  The presentational style is audience-focused.

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