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The Technique of Acting

By F. Cowles Strickland | Go to book overview

Chapter 3. THE ENTRANCE

YOU ENTER. These are the pleasantest words in the actor's dictionary. But what do you do when you enter? The actor should carefully analyze the problem and decide the exact impression which he wishes to make, both on the characters who are already upon the scene and on the audience, for the adage about first impressions being lasting is as true in the theater as it is in life.

Entrances differ from one another in that each involves a different actor, a different character, and different physical conditions, but all entrances raise essentially the same problems. Sometimes the author has left the manner of entering entirely to the discretion of the actor; but sometimes, as in the case of Romeo's entrance, the author has been explicit and definite concerning the first impression to be created.


The Entrance of Romeo

Just prior to Romeo's entrance, Benvolio gives a description of Romeo's actions, a description which must be fulfilled by the actor if the audience's expectations are to be satisfied:

Many a morning hath he there been seen, With tears augmenting the fresh morning's dew, Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs.

The precise moment that Romeo appears will vary according to the discretion of the actor and the director, for Romeo may enter just before Benvolio says, "See where he comes," or at any convenient time during the next four lines, at which point Benvolio greets him, "Good morrow, cousin." The space allotted to the entrance is also variable. In a production on an Elizabethan stage, Romeo might enter from the side and cross on the front of the stage, thus having as much as 30 feet in which to perform a pantomimic action, while the other characters observe him from upstage and speak the four lines. In a modern production he might enter upstage from an arch, and his action might be confined to 12 feet or less.

Within the time and space selected, the actor may invent whatever action he thinks appropriate to a lovesick youth. He may cry or sigh,

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