The Actor's Ways and Means

The Actor's Ways and Means

The Actor's Ways and Means

The Actor's Ways and Means

Excerpt

One of the first considerations of the speaker is the nature of his audience. The text of this book is that of the Rockefeller Foundation Lectures which I was asked to deliver in the Department of Drama at Bristol University during the session of 1952-53. The first of the lectures, it was suggested, should be a public one, to a mixed audience of over a thousand: first Drama Department students, then students of the University, the Bristol Old Vic School, members of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre Company and the Bristol general public. To the following three lectures the public was not admitted. This promised to work out quite well, for it permitted me in the first lecture to approach my subject in a general way, but I was aware even then that my questions were more plentiful than my answers and that those answers were not so much supplied as suggested.

A real complication was that it is a condition of the lectureship that the lectures should eventually be published. This meant that my remarks would reach a far different if not a much larger audience, and that this audience would include not only my fellow-actors but also some of the dramatic critics, whose job it is to set some kind of seal on our performances. What a player actually does on the stage--what he projects to the audience--is of more importance than what he may think ought to be done. This thought frequently halted my pen and has delayed revision for publication.

The revision, however, is not extensive. What chiefly caused my pen to lag was the thought that since the actor's conception of his powers and functions are continually in an O'Casey-like 'state of chassis' I might well be thinking quite differently about my subject in six months' time. At the moment of writing I do not do so, but as I warned the first audience to the lectures I cannot regard these talks as anything but an interim statement. I have . . .

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