From the psychology of the actor we turn to the much-discussed issue of the use of psychology in the acting process. One of the major problems in dealing, today, with the nature of acting is that we are the immediate inheritors of the sensibility of the naturalistic period, when a comparison with the lineaments of an external reality became a popular criterion for the judgement of acting. This has become the more entrenched as the spread of film and television has brought 'acting' into the living rooms of virtually every member of society. Thus the necessary conventions of a theatrical experience, whereby one goes to a particular place at a particular time to witness an event that, although part of the spectator's total life experience, has its own particular identity, have been lost. Television now brings 'acting', intermixed with the 'real' life of news and talk shows and interviews, and the sales-pitch pseudo-sincerity of commercials into the undifferentiated consciousness of everyone, as they eat their evening meal and flick from channel to channel.
This exposure of acting, both to the generic mélange of media conventions, and the judgement of popular critical taste, is a fairly recent development in the long history of acting as a human cultural endeavour. Since Plato condemned actors for being hypocrites and a threat to the state, much discussion of theatre up through the Renaissance was in literary terms based upon the 'nature' of the dramatic effect rather than the actor's 'achievement' of that effect. If acting as a process was considered, it was based upon the vocabulary of humours as a guide to human identity, and the expectations imposed upon human action by the rules of social decorum. It was the eighteenth century, with the growth of