The Technique of Acting

By F. Cowles Strickland | Go to book overview

Chapter 8. THE SIZE OF A PERFORMANCE

FREQUENT REFERENCE has been made in the preceding chapters to the relative sizes of performances, but there has been no previous opportunity to discuss the problem as a whole. The size of a performance is a matter of vital importance to the actor, particularly today when performances are given in so many different types of theaters, such as conventional proscenium-arch theaters of all sizes and the newer "arena" or "in-the-round" theaters, as well as in motion pictures, on the radio, and on television.

The actor will need to develop his techniques so that he will be able to adapt them readily to the conditions under which a particular performance is to be given. Many a skilled player who has had most of his training in small theaters seating less than 500 persons has found that he is much less effective when he is called upon to play in larger theaters; and many actors with most, or all, of their experience playing in large theaters have found themselves at a disadvantage when working in such media as motion pictures and television, where the camera, and therefore the audience, is frequently within a few feet of them. The size of a performance is of tremendous importance to the motion-picture actor because the techniques of a performance to be filmed as a long shot are different from those to be used in a close-up.


Size in Relation to the Play

Many factors besides the size of the auditorium or of the particular medium in which a performance is to be given have an effect upon the size of a performance. The most important of these is the quality of the play itself. Some plays, because of their subject material and the author's treatment of that material, are more suitable for large performances in large theaters, while other plays require smaller performances and demand more intimate contact with the audience.

Frequently the quality of a play which determines the size of the performance was derived from the theaters and auditoriums with which the author was familiar and for which he wrote the play. The Greek dramas, which were originally conceived for performances on huge outdoor

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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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