The Technique of Acting

By F. Cowles Strickland | Go to book overview

Chapter 6. THE USE OF TECHNIQUES TO BUILD A CLIMAX

EVERY SCENE may be divided into a series of progressions, each sequence of lines making a definite contribution to the total scene. The actor must decide the exact purpose of each sequence and the impression it is to convey to the audience, noting carefully the precise moment at which a new thought begins, a new emotion is revealed, or another facet of the character is portrayed. The duration of each sequence is of particular importance to the actor because he must select technical devices for the playing of each sequence which will be suited to both its purpose and its length.

The actor's first task is to decide which techniques will be appropriate to the scene as a whole. How much movement from one area to another is permissible and desirable? How many gestures may be used and how many are required? To what extent may he rely upon facial expressions? Which vocal techniques are appropriate? Just as the author has arranged the thoughts and emotions of the scene so that it seems to move constantly toward a climax, the actor will wish to arrange his techniques in a climactic order, selecting a method of playing each sequence that will create a different effect from that of the sequence which precedes and the one which follows.


Techniques Which May Be Combined Easily

Certain fundamental techniques of acting combine easily and are frequently used together. Based upon what is recognized as the normal behavior of the normal person, these combinations are much like the notes in music which combine to produce harmony as contrasted to the notes which cannot be used together without producing dissonance. It is easy for the student-actor to discover which techniques combine naturally, since such combinations are as natural to the actor as a person as they are to the character that the actor is attempting to portray. It has already been noted how difficult it is to use an increase in volume without using a rise in pitch, and vice versa. In the same way, large gestures or an in-

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The Technique of Acting
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • How to Use This Book xiii
  • Contents xvii
  • Chapter 1 - The Nature of Technique 1
  • Chapter 2 - A Beginning Exercise 19
  • Chapter 3 - The Entrance 32
  • Chapter 4 - Phrasing Actions in Relation to Thoughts 54
  • Chapter 5 - Progressions 70
  • Chapter 6 - The Use of Techniques to Build a Climax 100
  • Chapter 7 - Timing 123
  • Chapter 8 - The Size of a Performance 150
  • Chapter 9 - Pointing 175
  • Chapter 10 - The Invention of Actions 204
  • Chapter 11 - Timing, Rhythm, Tempo, and Pace 230
  • Chapter 12 - Style 253
  • Chapter 13 - The Design of a Role 278
  • Character Index 295
  • Subject Index 299
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