The Technique of Acting

By F. Cowles Strickland | Go to book overview
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Chapter 13. THE DESIGN OF A ROLE

A FINAL CONCEPT of style is that it is the essential quality of the entire work, embracing both the subject material and the techniques and methods by which the subject material is expressed. When the techniques are entirely suitable to the subject material and to the purpose of the artist and when the entire work has the desired effect upon the beholder or the listener, arousing the desired thoughts and emotions, the work is said to be a work of art.

In this largest concept, style is the sum of all those qualities which differentiate the work from reality. Regardless of how realistic or nonrealistic a work of art may be, it differs from reality in that the artist, taking his material from life, has imparted to it those qualities which are the characteristics of art and not of reality: he has given it form and organization; he has given it balance and arrangement and proportion, so that the parts are integrated and related to the whole; and he has given it a sense of unity and completeness -- nothing that is essential has been omitted and nothing has been included that does not make a valuable and necessary contribution to the total effect.


The Need for a Beginning, a Middle, and an End

Literature and music differ from the other arts in that a time element is involved in expressing thoughts and emotions in these forms. The painter does not know how long his work will be observed by one person, but it is possible for the observer to see it all at one time; a painting may not be comprehended and appreciated in one minute, but it can be seen in one minute. Some statues and some models of architecture are intended to be seen from all sides, but there is no assurance that the casual beholder will ever bother to walk around a piece of sculpture or a building to see it on all sides, and the artist must strive to create the effect he desires even if his work is observed from only one side. But a novel cannot be read and a symphony cannot be heard in one minute: instead of arousing a single emotional response, such works are intended to arouse a series of responses which follow one another in a planned order and

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