by Jason Bennett and others

Throughout the web site you will find many articles about acting and singing published by Jason Bennett, Runner-Up for Best Acting Coach in Los Angeles City in 2010. You will find testimonials about our Los Angeles Acting Classes and Musical Theater Workshops for beginners and professionals. We hope you enjoy this encyclopedia of acting, defining many terms used in acting and musical theater training. Jason Bennett works on this page as he has time, which is not often at all, he is so busy. If you have any revisions or suggestions for our acting encyclopedia, please send them along to us at info @ -- We'd love to hear from you. Wherever you are in the world our faculty and students wish you great success in the peforming arts...and in life.

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Accentuation - Accent is pointing a finger...[It] singles out the key word... the high point of the subtext. You know how the third dimension is used to produce depth in a picture... We have as many planes of speech which create perspective in a phrase. The most important word stands out most vividly defined in the very foreground of the sound plane. Less important words create a series of deeper planes... The essential point is not so much the volume as the quality of the accent. Accent can be combined with intonation... the latter will color a word with varied shades of feeling: caressing, malicious, ironical, a touch of scorn, respect and so on. Coordination is [to establish an] harmonious integration... of degrees of accentuation volume, for the purpose of setting forth certain words... Another method of emphasis for a key phrase is to change the tempo and rhythm.

Acting Process - The specific techniques, methods and tools an actor uses to identify and fulfill the obligations of theatrical material. If you are unable to articulate your acting process, you do not have conscious control of your acting. This approach works for some actors, but for most it does not. Ask yourself: Do you have hundreds of tools at your disposal for use in all your acting work? Can you very specifically describe what processes you have to choose from in order to craft amazing, compelling performances?

Action - On the stage you must always be enacting something: action, motion is the basis of art... of the actor;... even external mobility... does not imply passiveness. You may sit without motion and at the same time be in full action... Frequently physical immobility is the direct result of inner intensity. So I will... put it like this: on the stage it is necessary to act, either outwardly or inwardly. Everything that happens on the stage has a definite purpose... All action in the theatre must have an inner justification, be logical, coherent, and ral... and as a final result we have a truly productive activity...

Physical Actions - An example: With what is Lady Macbeth occupied at the culminating point of her tragedy? The simple physical act of washing a spot of blood odd her hand... In real life also many of the great moments of emotion are signalized by some ordinary, small, natural movement... A small physical act acquires an enormous inner meaning: the great inner struggle seeks an outlet in such an external act. The significance of physical acts in highly tragic or dramatic moments is... that the simpler they are, the easier it is to grasp them, the easier to allow them to be lead you to your true objective... By approaching emotion this way, you avoid all forcing and you result is natural, intuitive, and complete.

There are no physical actions divorced from some desire, some effort in some direction, some objective, without one s feeling inwardly a justification for them; there is no imagined situation which does not contain some degree of action of thought; here should be no physical actions created without faith in their reality, consequently a sense of truthfulness. All this bears witness to the close bond between physical action and all so-called elements  of the inner creative state.

Actions Create the Physical Life of a Role - The creation of the physical life is half the word on a role because, like us, a role has two natures, physical and spiritual. To permeate external physical actions with inner essentials, the spiritual life of a part, you must have appropriate material. This you find in the the play and in your role... because a role, mor than action in real life, must bring together the two lives  of external and internal action  in mutual effort to achieve a given purpose.

The spirit cannot but respond to the actions of the body, provided of course that these are genuine, have a purpose, and are productive... Thanks to this approach... a part acquires inner content... External action acquires inner meaning and warmth from inner feeling, and the latter finds its expression in physical terms.

To sum up: the point of physical actions lies not in themselves as such but in what they evoke: conditions, proposed circumstances, feelings. The fact that the hero of a play kills himself is not so important as the inner reason for his suicide. If that does no appear or is lacking in interest, his death as such will pass without leaving any impression. There is an unbreakable bond between the action on the stage and the thing which precipitated it. In other words there is a complete union between the physical and the spiritual being of a role. That is what we make use of in our physco-technique.

Pattern of Physical Actions - Write down the list of the physical actions you would undertake if you found yourself in the situation of your imaginary character. Do this same work with the textual role... Write down the list of actions which your character undertakes in accordance with the plot of the play... If the work of the playwright is... drawn... from the living sources of human nature and human experience and feelings, ... there will be coincidence at many points between the two lists, especially in all the basic... places... To feel yourself even partly in your role even partly in you... is the initial step of merging with and living your part.

People who do not understand the line of the physical being in a role laugh when you explain to them that a series of simple, physical, realistic actions has the capacity to engender... the life of a human spirit in a role.... The point does not lie in these small, realistic actions but in the whole creative sequence which is put into effect, thanks to the impulse given by these physical actions.

Actor as Master of His Art - It takes a great artist to convey great feelings and passions  an actor of great power and technique... Without [this last] an actor is incapable of transmitting the universal hopes and tribulations of man. Lack of understanding and education stamps our art as amateur. Without a complete and profound mastery of his art an actor cannot carry over to the spectator either the idea, theme of living content of any play. An actor grows as long as he works... Over a period of years of study [an actor] learns to follow a right course on his own... and having learned to do his work properly he becomes a master of his art.

Actor as True Artist - A real artist must lead a full, interesting, varied and exciting life. He should know not only what is going on in big cities, but in the provincial towns, faraway villages, factories and the big cultural centres of the world as well. He should study the life and psychology of the people who surround him, of various other parts of the populations, both at home and abroad. We need a broad point of view to act the plays of our times and of many peoples... To reach the pinnacle of fame and actor has to have more than his artistic talents, he must be an ideal human being... capable of reaching the high points of his epoch, of grasping the value of culture in the life of his people... of reflecting the spiritual cravings of his contemporaries.

Actor in His Role - Closeness to your part we call perception of yourself in the part and of the part in you. Suppose you go through the whole play, find the right actions and accustom yourself to executing them from start to finish. You will then have established the physical life of a part. You must remember that the actions are based on inner feelings. Inside of you, parallel to the line of physical actions, you have an unbroken line of emotions verging on the subconscious. Moreover you can speak for your character in your own person. Bring yourself to the point of taking hold of a new role concretely, as if it were your own life. When you sense that real kinship to your part, your newly created being will become soul of your soul, flesh of your flesh.

Actor in Opera - The objective of the director of an opera is to sift out the action inherent in the musical picture and restate this composition of sounds in terms of the dramatic, that is to say the visual.

In other words: the action should be determined to a far greater degree by the musical score than merely by the text. The objective of the director is to explain exactly what it is that the composer wished to say when he wrote each phrase of his score, and what dramatic action he had in mind, even though this last may have been only subconsciously in his mind.

believe there is no basis for dividing operas into operas for singing and musical dramas, for every opera is a musical drama. The chief exponent of the action in an opera is the singer-actor, not the conductor who often misses the point of dramatic-action. The most necessary item of equipment for an operatic artist is, beyond all doubt, a well-paced voice which enables him to sing both vowels and consonants. The consonants are the more important because they are what carry through the volume of the orchestral accompaniment. The famous singer Battistini owed the volume of his voice to his ability to reinforce his tone through consonants. Tamagno was a dramatic and magnificent Othello in opera because he studied his role with the great tragic actor Salvini, and his music mentor was Verdi himself. Another master of diction was Chaliapin because he had an intuitive genius he was able to find the right expression and achieved by this means an unparalleled effect.

The production noted of Richard Wagner contain, among other things, the secret of producing an opera. You can bring Wagnerian heroes to life, and make human beings out of them if you can wean them from everything operatic,  and plan their actions in consonance with the inner meaning of the music and not the external effects.

In opera I take my point of departure from music, I try to discover what it is that prompted the composer to write his work. Then I try to reproduce this in the action of the singers. If the orchestra plays a prelude, introducing a scene before the action begins we are not content to have the orchestra simply play this, we put it into scenic terms, in the sense of actions, words, phrases. Thus we often use action to illustrate the other instruments which lend color to the orchestra. If an instrument gives the theme of death, the singer will feel the corresponding emotions. He must not disregard these preludes and use the time to clear his throat or prepare his entrance, he must already be part of the unbroken pattern, of the unfolding life of a human spirit in his part in the play.

The bond with the music must be so close that the action is played in the same rhythm as the music. But this should not be rhythm for the sake of rhythm. I would like this union of rhythm [of action] and music to be imperceptible to the public. We try to have the words merge with the music and be pronounced musically. Since I look upon opera as the collective creation of several arts, the words, the text, diction must be as well worked out as possible on the part of the singer; the public must understand everything that is transpiring on stage. I even wish to have every word of the ensemble and chorus singing made intelligible.

Chaliapin is the great criterion in opera. Chaliapins cannot be made but the method of Chaliapin should be taught because artists of his caliber come once in a century. The age of the actor has arrived He is the top person in the theatre. In opera the need is not only for a good singer, but also a good actor. There must be a matching of the dramatic art with the vocal-music art.

Actor in the Films - An actor in the talking films is obliged to be incomparably more skillful and technically expert than an actor on the stage, if the requirements of true art rather than routine accomplishment are to be applied to him. Film actors need real theatre training. They should be bred on a repertory of the world geniuses like Shakespeare, Griboyedov, Gogol, Chekhov and not on ordinary movie scripts. Film actors are often called upon to play the last sequences in a picture and then the first; they have to die and be born later on. And all this is usually improvised, they rehearse death and then birth.

Actor in the Theatre - In our theatre, which had its genesis in the Shchepkin traditions, the first place has always been assigned to the actor. For him we did everything that lay in our power. The theatre exists above all, for the actor, and without him it cannot exist at all. The only king and ruler of the stage is the talented actor. The main difference between the art of the actor and all other arts is that every other artist may create whenever he is in the mood of inspiration. But the artist of the stage must be the master of his own inspiration. But the artist of he stage must be the master of his own inspiration and must know how to call it forth at the hour announced on the posters of the theatre. This is the chief secret of our art.

Actors Use Their Own Feelings - Must we use our own, same, old feelings... in every kind of role from Hamlet to Sugar in The Blue Bird? What else can you do? Do you expect an actor to invent all sorts of new sensations, or even a new soul, for every part he plays? How many souls would he be obliged to house? Can he tear out his own soul and replace it by one he has rented as being more suitable to a certain part? Where can he get one? You can borrow things of all sorts, but you cannot take feelings away from another person. My feelings are inalienably mine, and your belong to you in the same way. You can understand a part, sympathize with the person portrayed, and put yourself in his place, so that you will act as he would. That will arouse feelings in the actor that are analogous to those required for the part. Those feelings will belong, not to the person created by the author of the play, but to the actor himself. When a real artist is speaking the Hamlet soliloquy To be or not to be  he puts into the lines much of his own conception of life. For him it is necessary that the spectators feel his inner relationship to what he is saying.

The musical scale has only seven notes, the sun s spectrum only seven primary colors, yet the combinations of those notes in music and those colors in painting are not to be numbered. The same must be said of our fundamental emotions.

Adler, Stella - See Biography of Stella Adler

Adjustments - Adaptation means both the inner and outer human means that people use in adjusting themselves to one another in a variety of relationships and also as an aid in affecting an object or person. Adaptations are made consciously and unconsciously. The most powerful, vivid and convincing ones are the products of nature, and are almost wholly of subconscious origin.

Each actor has his own special attributes. They spring from varied sources. Each change of circumstance, setting, place of action, time  brings a corresponding adjustment. All types of communication require adjustments peculiar to each. If people in ordinary life need and make use of a large variety of adaptations, actors need a correspondingly greater number because we must be constantly in contact with one another, and therefore incessantly adjusting ourselves. The quality of the adjustment plays a great part: vividness, colorfulness, boldness, delicacy, shadings, exquisiteness, taste.

In the process of using adaptations there are two moments: first, the selection of an adjustment and, second, its execution, which is largely subconscious. Such adaptations are called semi-conscious. Our subconscious has its own logic. Since we find subconscious adaptations necessary in our art, we find the greatest artists use them. However, even these exceptional people cannot produce them at any given time. They come only in moments of inspiration.

Affective Memory/Emotional Recall - A an emotional preparation technique to reactivate the emotional/psychological experience of a past event you believe is experientially parallel to the emotional/psychological life of a character. It relies on the Sensory Process, meaning you ask yourself dozens of sensory questions to "trick" your psyche into responding as if the past experience is occurring in the present. You answer the questions you ask yourself with your senses, not with words. For example, "How does the crying baby sound?" You answer by hearing the sounds of the crying baby as if it is happening, not to describe it with words.

In the beginning, this process can take up to two hours to find the sensory triggers that re-create the desired emotional response. With practice, it can be reduced to one or two minutes with a few sensory "trigger" questions. Technique shortfalls: Rather than being focused on telling the story of the play, deriving inspiration and stimulation from the story, the other players and the audience, an actor can easily become self-absorbed or histrionic. This would tell the story of a self-absorbed or histrionic character. Affective Memory/Emotional Recall was developed by Stanislavski, Strasberg, Morris, Kovens and others.

Affirmations - Affirmative statements you make to yourself designed to "re-program your psyche" or replace mental concepts not serving you.

Affirmations are effective when done repetitively, with complete sincerity, while very relaxed and looking in a mirror. Affirmations can be tremendously helpful in dealing with self-concept issues, fear of performing or auditioning, and in developing characterizations.

Affirmation examples: "I have a right to be on-stage. I am filled with energy that fills the entire theater and radiates from every cell in my body." "I love eating fresh fruits and vegetables. I love to exercise, I deserve to take care of myself. I deserve love."

Affirmations can be used to help access archetypes you think are present in a character, but not easily available to you. Affirmations can be used with amazing results to program in character beliefs and perceptions.

Think about how often you say "negative" things to yourself. These little bits of programming, repeated to yourself over and over, have a powerful cumulative effect on your life: how you treat others, how others treat you, how you view yourself, etc. Affirmations are integrated into the training provided at The Jason Bennett Actors Studio.

Alexander Technique - The Alexander Technique is a way of learning how to get rid of harmful tension in your body that has accumulated from many years of stressful living. Excess tension often starts in childhood and, if left unchecked, can lead to arthritis, neck and back pain, migraines, hypertension, sciatica, insomnia and even depression. The Alexander technique works to change physical movement habits in your life. It improves ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination. The technique teaches the use of the appropriate amount of effort for a particular activity. This can result in your having more energy for all your activities. It is a reeducation of the mind and body.

Alexander Technique has been a part of movement training in actor training programs throughout the world for many decades. The fundamental job of an actor is to tell stories using your voice and body. Tension is blocked impulses, blocked talent. Tense actors are not able to alter the the physical stories they tell with their bodies efficiently, or at all. All movement and relaxation training for actors should cultivate increasing freedom and economy of movement, and ever-increasing body-awareness (body intelligence).

Amateur Attitude - The worst enemy of progress is prejudice: it holds back progress, blocks the way to it. In our art one such example of prejudice is the opinion which defends an amateurish attitude of an actor towards his work. There can be no art without virtuosity, without practice, without technique  and the greater the talent, the more they are needed. Amateurs reject technique, not because of conscious convictions, but out of unbridled laziness. Among professional actors there are many who have never changed their amateurish attitude towards acting.

Analysis - What does analysis consist of? Its purpose is to search out creative stimuli to attract (excite) the actor, lacking which there can be no identification with a part. The purpose of the analysis is the emotional deepening of the soul of a part. Analysis studies the external circumstances and events in the life of a human spirit in the part; it searches in the actor s own soul for emotions common to the role and himself, for sensations, experiences, for any elements promoting ties between him and his part; and it seeks out any spiritual or other material germane to creativeness.

Analysis dissects, discovers, examines, studies ways, recognizes, rejects, confirms; it uncovers the basic direction and thought of a play and part, the super-objective, and the through line of action. This is the material it feeds to imagination, feelings, thoughts and will. Analysis is not solely an intellectual process. Many other elements enter into it; all the capacities and qualities of an actor s nature. Analysis is a means of coming to know, that is, to feel a play, so that in the process of analysis one must use the mind with utmost caution.

Take a firmer hold of physical actions, they are the key to freedom for creative nature, and they will protect your feelings from all force. As you are drawn to physical actions, you are drawn away from the life of your subconscious. In that way you render it free to act and induce it to work creatively. This action of nature and its subconscious is so subtle and profound that the person who is doing the creating is unaware of it. A method draws into action by normal and natural the subtlest creative forces of nature. This naturally induced self-analysis is what should be stressed. Absorbed my immediate physical actions, one does not think about, nor is one aware of, the complex inner process of analysis, which naturally and imperceptibly goes on inside us.

We have many ways of learning through the analysis of a play and its role. We can retell the content of the play; make lists of facts and events, and given circumstances by the author. We can divide a play into pieces  dissect it, and divide it into layers, think up questions and provide the answers, organize general discussions, arguments, debates, and weigh and estimate all facts, and find names for units and objectives. All these differing practical methods are part of the single process of analysis, or coming to know the play and your parts. Search for creative stimuli that will provide ever-new impulses of excitement, ever-new bits of live material for the spirit of a role.

Anxiety - The experience of worry, nervousness, impatience, and/or irritability resulting from unfulfilled desire.

Some psychologists view human behavior through an "anxiety reduction" model. They believe the actions we we take in life are an attempt to quell underlying anxiety. For example, when we feel hungry, we find food and eat. As a result, our anxiety is reduced. We feel thirsty, so we drink and our thirst anxiety is reduced. We feel worried about money, so we take steps to acquire money so our anxiety will be reduced. It is useful to think about characters and their anxieties when working on a role.

As an actor, you must learn to embrace and be with your anxieties, rather than run away from them, as we do so often in our culture.

Rather than anxiety being "bad," it is more useful to think of it as a teacher. What does your anxiety have to offer you? Why are you feeling it? What can you do to quell the anxiety in a way that serves your long-term life goals?

As an actor, you must remain open to your experience of life, and this includes the whole range of human emotions and perspectives. It includes anxiety. If you don't allow yourself to experience who you are and what you feel, you will have a harder time revealing these aspects of yourself while performing if that is what the story calls for.

Archetype -An archetype (subpersonality) is a basic "unit" of the human psyche. Archetypes are universal "ways of being" or looking at the world. There are dozens of archetypes that make-up your personality. Archetypes have very unique thoughts, values, abilities, emotions, voices, energies and physicalizations. As an adult, you are able to access many kinds of archetypes, but many you have deeply repressed since childhood. G here to read about Archetype Work.

Artistic Truth - Truth on the stage is not the small external truth, which leads to naturalism. It is what you can sincerely believe in. Even an untruth must become a truth in the eyes of the actor and the spectator in order to be artistic. The secret of art is that it converts a fiction into a beautiful artistic truth. From the moment when the actor and the spectator come to doubt the reality of the actor s life in the play, truth vanishes, and with it emotion and art. They are replaced by pretense, theatrical falseness, imitation, routine acting. Nature and truth are indivisible.

Natural beauty is the truth friend of our being. Beauty cannot be fabricated, it is. It exists in nature all around and in each one of us. There is no greater beauty in the world than nature itself. One must know how to look at and see beauty. One must learn how to carry beauty over from life and nature on to the stage without crushing or mangling it.

As If - This is an acting concept. It is also called the "magic if." Rather than attempting to believe you really are a character, many acting theorists believe it is more useful to think of playing a character "as if" you were in the situation of the character, or "as if" you were the character. For example, if you are playing "Stanley" in A Streetcar Named Desire, you might approach Blanche as if you were going to rape her in the rape scene, as opposed to trying to actually believe you are going to rape her.

It is also useful to apply this concept to the other actors around you in a slightly different way. For example, about Blanche you might say to yourself as Stanley: "What if she were Blanche? Why is she here? What does she want with Stella? What does she want from me? How does she feel about me?"

The "magic if/as if" concept originated with Stanislavski and is found in most acting thoery texts.

Atmospheres - This acting concept was developed by Michael Chekhov. He believed rooms and places have objective energies, feelings and auras -- atmospheres. For example, imagine and experience the atmosphere of Los Angeles City. Now imagine and experience the atmosphere of a state park in Indiana or another rural area you have been to.

It may be quite useful for you to create quite specifically, rationally and imaginatively, the atmospheres of the places your character is in during the play and has been during his/her life. Instruction in the creation of atmospheres, as an element of creating place, is integrated into the curriculum of The Jason Bennett Actors Studio.

Attention -

Concentration - First of all, creativeness is the complete concentration of the entire nature of the actor. At one of the performances given by a visiting star, the presence of the creative mood in his playing was felt  the freedom of his muscles in conjunction with a great general concentration. His attention was on the stage, and on the stage alone.

An actor must have a point of attention, and this must not be in the auditorium. The more attractive the object the more it will concentrate the attention. In real life there are always objects that fix our attention. However, conditions in the theatre are different and interfere with an actor s living normally, so that an effort to fix attention becomes necessary  to learn anew to look at things, on the stage, and to see them.

Intensive observation of an object naturally arouses a desire to do something with it. To do something with it in turn intensifies your observation with it. This mutual inter-reaction establishes a stronger contact with the object of your attention. In watching the acting of great artists, their creative inspiration is always bound up with their concentration of attention. When an actor s attention is not turned towards the spectators, he acquires a special hold on them, forcing them to participate actively in his artistic life. The actor who has the trained habit can limit his attention within a circle of concentration, he can concentrate on whatever enters that circle, and with only half an ear can listen to what transpires outside of it. He can even narrow the circle to produce a state we may call public solitude. This circle of attention is usually flexible; it can be enlarged or shrunk by the actor in accordance with whatever must be included for the purposes of the stage action. Inside the limits of the circle there is an immediate central object of attention. Creativeness on the stage, whether during the preparation of a part or during its repeated performance, demands complete concentration of all the actor s physical and inner nature, the participation of all his physical and inner faculties.

Concentrated Sensory Attention - To grasp your object firmly when you are acting you need another type of attention, which causes an emotional reaction. You must have something which will interest you in the object of your attention, and serve to set in motion your whole creative apparatus. It is, of course, not necessary to endow every object with an imaginary life, but you should be sensitive to its influence on you. Imagined circumstances can transform the object itself and heighten the reaction of your emotions to it. One must learn to transfigure an object from something that is coldly reasoned or intellectual into something which is warmly felt. This has now been called sensory attention. It is particularly valuable in the creative work of preparing the life of a human spirit in a role. 

Imaginary Objects of Attention - Inner attention centers on things we see, hear and touch and feel in imaginary circumstances. We see such images with an inner vision. The same is true of our sense of hearing, smell, touch, and taste. This abstract life contributes to an unending source of material for our inner concentration of attention. However, imaginary objects demand far more disciplined power of attention. Use the exercises developed for the imagination, as they are equally effective for concentrating attention.

Physical Attention - Physical attention has been drawn to the movement of energy along a network of muscles. This same kind of attention should be fixed on ferreting out points of pressure in the process of relaxing our muscles. What is muscular pressure or spasm except moving energy that is blocked? It is important that your attention move in constant company with the current of energy, because this helps create an unbroken line that is so essential in our art.

Concentrated Attention and Creative Material - At the bottom of every process, containing creative material, is emotion. Feeling, however, does not replace an immense amount of work on the part of our intellects. After you have learned how to observe life around you and draw on it for your work, you will turn to the living emotional material on which your main creativeness is based. Impressions from direct, personal contact with other human beings, many invisible, and spiritual experiences are reflected in our facial expressions; our eyes, voice, speech, gestures; but even so that it isn t easy to sense another s inmost being because people do not often open the doors of their souls. When the inner world of someone becomes clear to you through his acts, thoughts, impulses, follow his actions closely and study the conditions in which he finds himself.

Here we are dealing with the most delicate type of concentration of attention and with powers of observation, which are subconscious in their origin. As you progress, you will learn more ways to stimulate your subconscious selves and draw them into your creative process, but we cannot reduce this study of the inner life of other human beings to a scientific technique. Do not look with a cold, analytical eye or carry a pencil in your hand. Do not be a cold observer of another s life, but let your study raise your own creative temperature. After a prolonged, penetrating observation and study, an actor acquires excellent creative material.

Audience - Robert Cohen writes, in Acting Power, "Audiences do not exist solely in theatre, they exist in life." And they do, most all the time. An actor is always relating to the audience: interacting with them, challenging them, taking them on a journey -- just like in life. Audiences want theater to be great. Audiences are an actor's friend. You should always define, quite specifically, your character's relationship with the audience throughout the play or in film and on television. You are telling the audience a story. You want the audience to think and feel certain things about your character. Watch actors and see if you can articulate what their specific relationship to the audience is.

Most actors report that they experience a profound sense of intimacy and communication with audiences during live theatrical productions. The communication influences each performance. Depending on the genre of theatre, communication with the audience can be extremely overt or incredibly subtle.

The more the actor wishes to amuse his audience, the more the audience will sit back in comfort waiting to be amused, but after the actor stops being concerned with the audience, the latter begins to watch the actor. It is especially so when the actor is occupied in something serious and interesting.Only true acting can completely absorb an audience, making it not only understand, but participate emotionally in all that is transpiring on the stage, thus being enriched by an inner experience which will not be erased by time.

To act without an audience is the same as singing in a room without any resonance. To act before a full and responsive audience is like singing in a hall with excellent acoustics. The audience provides our spiritual acoustics, like a sounding board returning to us living, human emotions. The point is not in the power of an effect, but in its quality. It is not the purpose of an actor to make a fleeting impression on the audience. It is much more valuable to have a quiet audience who will receive a lasting imprint. New methods of creativeness have produced new playwrights and a new kind of audience, which knows not only how to look and be entertained in the theatre, but also how to listen, feel and reflect on what it sees. These new spectators do not expect writing or acting, which is merely effective in external plot and action; they look for deep feelings and great thoughts. Thus an audience is a creative participant in the performance of a play.

Beats - Supposedly a mispronunciation of bits here called units on the part of early Russian teachers of the Stanislavski system in America.

Barrish, Seth -

Being - For acting purposes, being energy is a giant archetypal realm. Being energy is the opposite of doing energy. Being energy can be described as still, open, expanded, in the direction of vulnerability, effortless, released, quiet, without agenda and present.

Archetypal energies can best be defined relative to other archetypes, especially their opposites. Because archetypes are experiences, it is difficult to define them with words.

Boal, Augusto -

Body Training - People generally do not know how to make use of the physical apparatus with which nature has endowed us. They neither know how to develop this apparatus nor keep it in order. Flabby muscles, poor posture, sagging chests  these things we see around us continually. They show insufficient training and an inept use of the physical instrument.

Maybe a body, with bulges in the wrong places, legs so spindly that their owner has to totter, shoulders hunched almost into a deformity, does not matter in ordinary life. In fact, we ve become so accustomed to these and other defects that we accept them as normal phenomena. However, when we step onto the stage, our physical shortcomings attract immediate attention. The actor is scrutinized by thousands (now millions) of onlookers as through a magnifying lens. Unless it is his intention to show a character with physical defects, in which case he d be able to display it in just the proper degree, he should move in an easy manner that adds to rather than detracts from the impression he creates. To do this, he must have a healthy body in good working order, capable of extraordinary control. Exercises contribute towards making your physical apparatus more mobile, flexible, expressive, and even more sensitive.

Do you admire the physique of an Olympic athlete? For the most part, there is nothing more repellent than a man with shoulders that seem as if they belonged on a bull, with muscles that form great Gordian knots all over him. Now you are at the crossroads. What direction will you take? Proceed along the line of muscular development of a weightlifter, or follow the requirements of our art? Naturally, you should be inclined to the latter line. We now add sculptural requirements to our gymnastic training. Just as the artist with a chisel seeks the right line, the beautiful proportions in the balance of the parts of the statues he creates out of stone, the teacher of gymnastics must try to achieve the same results with living bodies. There is no such thing as an ideal human structure. It has to be made, so that one must first study the body and understand the proportions of the various parts. When the defects have been found, they must be corrected. By increasing muscular structure, a proper overall form can be established.

Physical culture adepts are not natural. Their bodies are not flexible on stage, nor do they submit to the demands of an inner life. What they convey is a coarse, inartistic form. Boxing can be harsh. Sportsmen are agile only in certain movements required by the specific sport in which they are engaged. Ideal physical exercises are those that remedy the insufficiencies of nature. Above all, it is desirable that no movements undertaken in the course of exercises be lacking in intent.

>Expressive body training includes gymnastics, dance, acrobatics (tumbling), fencing (foils, rapiers, daggers), wrestling, boxing, carriage, all the aspects of physical training. Your powers of expression as an artist will be tested to the limit by the adjustments you must make in relation to the other actors on stage. For this reason you must give appropriate attention to your body, face, and voice. Hopefully this will make your aware of the necessity of your exercises in physical culture, dancing, and voice placing.

Breathing - For numerous reasons, by the time we reach adolescence, our breathing is often quite restricted by habitual physical tension. Watch how babies breath and take note of their vocal freedom, endurance and power. Actors should spend the time necessary to return to natural, released breathing habits. This results in increased emotional connection and expression, freedom of physical movement, and in vocal endurance and power.

Sometimes tension in the voice or in your breathing is all it takes to completely block your connection to a character, your deeply felt experiences and imagination. Tension in the breathing and vocal mechanism can cause not just a lack of vocal prooduction, but a rather complete blockage of an actor's talent.

Breathing and voice work is integrated into the curriculum of The Jason Bennett Actors Studio.

Boleslavsky, Richard - See Biography of Richard Boleslavsky

Character Acting - Character acting occurs when an actor makes a significant physical, vocal, external and/or psychlogical adjustment from the actor's primary persona. This is in contrast to personality acting, where an actor simply uses their habitual persona while they act. Examples of accomplished character actors are Anthony Hopkins, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin and Denzel Washington. Examples of accomplished personality actors are Harrison Ford, Julia Roberts and Halle Berry.

Character Biography - Writing about and/or imagining the life of your character is usually essential for specific and compelling characterizations to emerge/result from your work. You must make specific choices about all areas of your character's life, and then you must flesh them out and make them reality in your imagination. The more you do this, the more your moment-to-moment life on-stage is informed by this imaginary world you've created -- in other words, the easier and more specific your acting gets.

Characterization and Transformation - All actors must be character actors, of course not in the sense of outer, but of inner characteristics. This does not mean that the actor must lose his own individuality and personality; it means that in each role he must find his individuality and his personality, but nevertheless be different in every role. As for inner characterization, it can be shaped only from an actor s own inner elements. These must be felt an chosen to fir the image of the character to be portrayed. If this is effectively prepared, the outer characterization should naturally follow. Let every actor achieve this outer characterization by using material from his own life, from that of others, real or imaginary, by using his intuition, self-observation, by studying paintings or books, or by noting accidental occurrences  in short from every possible source. But in all this external search an actor must never lose his own identity.

Any role that does not include a real characterization will be poor, not lifelike, and the actor who cannot convey the character of the roles he plays is a poor and monotonous actor. As a matter of fact, there is no person on earth who does not possess his own individual character. That is why it is proposed for actors a complete inner and external metamorphosis. There are actors who do not feel the need of preparing characterizations, or transforming themselves into other characters because they adapt all roles to their own personal appeal.

There is a great difference between searching for and choosing in oneself emotions related to a part, and altering the part to suit one s more facile resources. An actor will not give himself up wholly to his part unless it carries him away. When it does so, he becomes completely identified with it and is transformed. Characterization, when accompanied by a real transposition, a sort of reincarnation, is a great thing. Since an actor is called upon to create an image while he is on the stage, characterization becomes a necessity for all actors. In other words, all actors who are artists should make use of characterization. A capacity to transform himself, body, and soul, is the prime requirement for an actor.

Charm - Charm is a basic element of attractiveness in interpersonal interactions. Charm means basically being in a good mood, being geuinely interested in whomever you're talking to, having a sense of humor, being confident yet humble, having a glimmer in your eye, being caring... Great Actors are usually characterized by great amounts of charm, both on and off-stage. Even "bad" characters are often charming. Think about it. Cultivate a genuinely charming persona! It will serve you in every way.

There are certain actors who have only to step on the stage and they already enthrall the public. What is the basis of the fascination they exercise? It is an incredible, intangible quality. It transforms even an actor s deficiencies into assets.

When the public meets these same actors offstage, even his warmest admirers are disillusioned. It is no wonder the quality is called stage and not natural charm. It is a great advantage to possess it. Yet it is of utmost importance that the actor uses this precious gift with caution, wisdom, and modesty. Self-admiration and exhibitionism impair and destroy the power to charm. There are also actors who possess another variety of stage charm. They have only to put on wigs, make-up that entirely masks their personality, and they exercise great stage magnetism. The unlucky actor who lacks theatre attractiveness influences the public against him. Yet, such actors are often far more intelligent, gifted, and conscientious about their art. Is there no method to develop a certain degree of stage charm? Only to a limited extent. It is accomplished by toning down unattractive shortcomings. It requires close observation, patience, and systematic work. One of the most important helps is habit. A spectator can become accustomed to the shortcomings of an actor and they may even take on the aspect of a certain attractiveness. We often hear people say, How such-and-such an actor has mellowed! 

To a certain extent, one may even create stage charm through the use of an excellent, well-bred manner in acting as that in it is attractive. Art lends beauty and nobility, and whatever is beautiful and noble has the power to attract. As one grows older and thinks about our art, one may perhaps be inclined to believe that the highest gift that nature can give an actor is stage charm.

Chekhov, Michael - See Biography of Michael Chekhov

Clarity - Actions must be clear like the notes on an instrument, otherwise the pattern of movement in a role is messy, and both its inner and outer rendering are bound to be indefinite and inartistic. The more delicate the feeling, the more it requires precision, clarity, and plastic quality in its physical expression. Clear-cut continuity, finish  these are the hallmarks either of good technique, or of genuine talent. Every moment of the acting of a gifted artist is clear and fully felt.

Cliché Acting - For this there has been worked out a large assortment of picturesque effects which pretend to portray all sorts of feelings through external means. There are special ways of reciting a role with declamatory vocal establishments for expressing human passions (showing your teeth and rolling the white of your eyes when you are jealous, or tearing your hair) of imitating types (peasants spit on the floor, and aristocrats play with opera glasses). Some of these established clichés are passed down from generation to generation. They often rush in ahead of feeling and bar the road; that is why an actor must protect himself most conscientiously against such devices, as this is true amongst gifted actors, capable of true creativeness. The mistake of most actors is that they do not think about the action itself but about the results. Feelings are the result of something that has gone before. As for the result, it will produce itself. Because of the excitement, the public character of his creativity, an actor seeks to produce more emotion than he really possesses. He can exaggerate his action, pretending to express feelings, but that destroys him. The protest of his sense of truth is the best regulator at such times.

Clurman, Harold - See Biography of Harold Clurman

Cognitive Dissonance -

Cohen, Robert

Collective Creativeness - Every worker in the theater, from the doorman, the ticket taker, hat-checker, to the usher  all the people the public comes in contact with as they enter the theater, on up to the managers, the staff, and the actors themselves  all are co-creators with the playwright, for the sake of whose play the audience assembles. They all serve; they are all subject to the fundamental aim of our art. They all, without exception, are participants in the production. Anyone who in any degree obstructs our common effort to carry out our basic aim should be declared an undesirable member of our community. If any of the staff out front greets any member of the audience inhospitably, thereby ruining his good humor, he has struck a blow against the goal of our art. The playwright, the composer, the cast  all do their part to create the necessary atmosphere on their side of the footlights. This absolute dependence of all workers in the theater, on the ultimate aim of our art, remains in force not only during performances, but also during rehearsals. Artists can operate successfully only under certain necessary conditions. A bad rehearsal prevents the actor from conveying the thoughts of the playwright, his main job. If order prevails and the work is properly laid out, teamwork is pleasant and fruitful. Our art is a collective enterprise in which everyone depends on everyone else. It is only in an atmosphere of mutual friendship that talent can thrive.

Communion -

Communication with the Public Through Your Partner - f actors really mean to hold the attention of a large audience they must make every effort to maintain an uninterrupted exchange of feelings, thought and actions among themselves, and the inner material for this exchange should be sufficiently interesting to hold spectators. When you want to communicate with a person you first seek out his soul, his inner world. When you speak to the person who is playing opposite you, learn to follow through until you are certain your thoughts have penetrated his sub consciousness. In turn, you must learn to take in, each time afresh, the words and thoughts of your partner. You must be aware today of his lines, even though you may have heard them being repeated many times during performances and rehearsals. This connection must be made each time you act together, and this requires a great deal of concentrated attention, and artistic discipline.

Some think that our external, visible movements are a manifestation of activity and that the inner invisible acts of spiritual communication are not. Every manifestation of inner activity is important and valuable. Therefore, learn to prize that inner communion because it is one of the important sources of action.

Giving Out and Receiving Rays - Haven t you felt in real life, or on stage, in the course of mutual communion with your partner, that something streamed out of you, some current from your eyes, from the ends of your fingers? What name can we give to these invisible currents that we use to communicate with one another? Some day this phenomenon will be the subject of scientific research. Meantime, let us call them rays. The absorbing of those rays is the inverse process. When we are quiescent in this process, irradiation is barely perceptible. But when we are in a highly emotional state, these rays which are given and received, become much more definite and tangible.

Grasp - If you can establish a long, coherent chain of such feelings it will eventually become so powerful that you will achieve what we have called grasp. Then your giving out and seeking absorption of rays will be much stronger, keener and more palpable. We actors must have that same power to seize with our eyes, ears and all our senses. If an actor is to listen, let him do it intently. If he is to look at something, let him really use his eyes. For a simple play you need an ordinary grasp, but for a Shakespeare play you have to have an absolute grasp. Grasp is what a bulldog has in his jaw. But, of course, this must be done without unnecessary muscular tension.

Concentration - see Attention

Contact with the Audience - Actors may not maintain contact directly with the audience, but they must do so obliquely. The difficulty is that we are in relation with our partner and simultaneously with the spectator. With the former our contact is direct and conscious, with the latter it is indirect and unconscious. When the spectator is present during an emotional and intellectual exchange, he is like a witness to a conversation is excited. But the spectators can understand and indirectly participate in what occurs on stage only while this intercourse continues among actors. Speak up, so you will be heard, forget about the public and think only of your acting partners in the play.




Contact, Making

Contextual Concentration


Convention - The theater, and its scenery, as such is a convention. It cannot be anything else. But does it follow from this that the more of the convention there is, the better? Is all convention good and acceptable? There are good and bad conventions; the good may remain, and even welcomed, but the bad should be destroyed. Theatricality is a convention; it is scenic effectiveness in its best sense. All that contributes to the play and the actors  performance should be scenic. The convention that enables the actors to create life in the play and the characters on the stage is good and theatrically effective.

>But that life must be convincing. It cannot stem from palpable falseness. Even a lie must assume the aspect of truth to be convincing on the stage; it must seem to possess a truthful quality so that the actors and their audience can believe in this convention.Good conventions should be beautiful, not just in a theatrically dazzling way. The beautiful is that which uplifts the life of a human being on the stage and in the audience. The production may be realistic, stylized, modernistic, naturalistic, impressionistic, futuristic  it makes no difference providing it is convincing and true or true seeming; beautiful in the sense that it is artistic, uplifting, and creative in that it produces the true life of a human spirit without which there can be no art. Conventions who do not fulfill these requirements are bad.

Counteraction - Every action meets with a reaction that in turn intensifies the first. In every play, besides the main action, we find its opposite counteraction. This is fortunate because its inevitable result is more action. We need that clash of purposes, and all the problems to be solved that grow out of them. They cause activity that is the basis of our art.


Creating the Inner Life of a Role - The fundamental aim of our art is the creation of this life of a human spirit, and its expression in artistic form. That is why we begin by thinking about the inner side of a role and how to create its spiritual life through the internal process of living a part. It is only when an actor feels that his inner and outer life on the stage is flowing naturally and normally that the deeper sources of his subconscious gently open, and from them come feelings. Since we do not understand this governing power, we actors simply call it nature. The creative process of living and experiencing a part is an organic one, founded on the physical and spiritual laws governing the nature of man.

Creative Will - An actor must have a strong power of will. The first duty of an actor is to learn to control his will. Few actors possess the will and tenacity to do the work that will enable them to achieve true art. An objective is live bait pursued by our creative will. The bait must be tasty, have substance and the power to charm. Unless it has these qualities, it will never attract our attention. The will is ineffectual until it is inspired by some passionate desire. The inspiration for it lies in a fascinating objective. This is a powerful driving force, a strong magnet for our creative will.

Danger, in Acting-

Director (Régisseur) - The responsibility for creating an ensemble, for its artistic integrity, the expressiveness for the overall performance lies with the director. This applies also to the external shaping of a performance.

We need a director who is also a psychologist, an artist. In order to teach others, a director himself must know his subject in the sense that he should to some extent be an actor in his own right. He himself should sense the actors  psycho-technique, methods and approaches to their parts, all the complicated emotions that are connected with our profession and with performing in public. Otherwise he will find no common language with which to speak with them. The joint work of the director and the actors, the search for the essential kernel of the play begins with analysis and proceeds along the line of through-going action. Later comes the determination of the through line in each role  the fundamental impetus of each part as it derives naturally from its character, fixes its place in the general action of the play. This is what the work of a present-day director should consist of. As for directors, one can only advise them not to foist anything on their actors, not to tempt them beyond the range of their capacities, but to enthuse them. Stimulate in an actor an apetite for his part. This preserves the freedom of the creative artist.


Dream Theory



Emotion -

Emotion and Logic - Here s a method: set up a list of actions in which various emotions spontaneously manifest themselves. Take, for example, love. What incidents go into the make-up of this human passion? What actions arouse it?

First, it was the meeting between her  and him.  Either immediately, or by degrees, the attention of either or both of the future lovers is heightened. They live on the memory of every moment of their meeting. They seek pretexts for another meeting. There is a second meeting. They have the desire to involve one another in a common interest, common action that will require more frequent meetings, and so on. There is the first secret  an even greater bond to draw them together. They exchange friendly advice about various matters and this makes for constant meetings and communication. So it develops. The first quarrel, reproaches, doubts. Fresh meetings, explanations to dissipate the disagreement. Reconciliation. Still closer relations. Obstacles to their meetings. Secret correspondence. Secret rendezvous. The first present. The first kiss. Growing demands on each other. Jealousy. A break. They meet again. They forgive each other. So it goes on.

All these moments and actions have their inner justification. Taken as a whole, they reflect the feelings, the passion, or the state that we describe by the use of one word; love. If you carry out in your imagination  with the right basis of the detailed circumstances, proper thinking, sincerity of feeling  each step in this series of actions, you will find that you reach, first externally then internally, the condition of a person in love. With such preparations you will find it easier to take on a role and a play in which this passion figures.

For most actors any human passion (love, jealousy, hatred, etc) is one big and generalized emotion. This is not so. Every passion is a complex of things experienced emotionally, it is the sum total of a variety of different feelings, experiences, states. All these component parts are not only numerous and varied but they are also often contradictory. In love there is often hatred and scorn, and admiration, and indifference, and ecstasy, and prostration, and embarrassment, and brazenness. In order to carry all this out, an actor must know the nature of feelings, their logic and continuity.

Emotion Memory - The type of memory that makes you relive the sensations you once felt  we call emotion memory. Just as your visual memory can reconstruct an inner image of some forgotten thing, place or person, your emotion memory can bring back feelings you have already experienced. They may seem beyond recall, but a sudden suggestion, thought, or familiar object will bring them back in full force. Sometimes the emotions are as strong as ever, sometimes weaker, sometimes the same strong feelings will come back in a somewhat different guise.

The Director made the distinction between sensation memory, connected with our five senses, and emotion memory. Sight is the most receptive of impressions. Hearing is also extremely sensitive. Although our senses of smell, taste, and touch are useful, and even sometimes important, their role is merely auxiliary and for the purpose of influencing our emotion memory. Time is a perfect filter for our remembered feelings  it not only purifies, it even transmutes even painfully realistic memories into poetry. Your first concern should be to find the means of drawing on your emotional material.

The broader your emotion memory, the richer your material for inner creativeness. It is necessary, in addition, to distinguish its power, its firmness, the quality of the material it retains. Our whole creative experiences are vivid and full in direct proportion to the power, keenness and exactness of our memory. Sometimes impressions continue to live in us, grow and become deeper. They even stimulate new processes and either fill out unfinished details or suggest altogether new ones. In time of actual danger a man may remain calm, yet faint away he recalls the memory of it. This is an example of the increased power over the original feelings experienced.

Emotional Recall - See Sensory Process.

Empathy and Feeling - The emotions of a reader, or hearer, differ in quality from those of an onlooker or principal. Suppose you were a witness, it would be easier to reproduce those feelings. The principal tells the insult; the witness can share only sympathetic feelings. But sympathy then might be transformed into direct reaction. The actor may feel the situation of the person in a part so keenly; he actually puts himself in the place of that person. In that case, the transformation of the emotions of the witness, to those of the principal, takes place so completely that strength and quality of the feelings involved are not diminished.

Ensemble - Let us suppose that one actor in a well and carefully prepared production departs so far from the true performance of his part as to act in a purely routine, mechanical way. Has he the right to do this? He was not alone in producing the play, he is not solely responsible for the work put into it. In such an enterprise, one works for all, and all for one. There must be mutual responsibility. In spite of the great admiration for individual splendid talents, the star system should not be accepted; collective effort is the root of our art. That requires ensemble acting, and whoever mars that ensemble is committing a crime against the very art he serves. The public likes us in plays, where we have a clear-cut super-objective and a well executed through line of action. That includes everything: ensemble acting, good actors, and a proper understanding of the play produced.

Ethics in Theatre - One more element contributing to a creative dramatic state is called ethics. The actor needs order, discipline, a code of ethics not only for the general circumstances of his work, but also and especially for his artistic purposes. An actor, always being in the public eye, displaying his best aspects, receiving ovations, accepting extravagant praise, reading glowing criticisms  all these breed the sense of craving for constant titillation of his personal vanity. But if he lives only on that, he is bound to sink low an become trivial. A serious-minded person could not be entertained long by such a life, yet a shallow one is enthralled, debauched, and destroyed by it. That is why, in our world of theater, we must learnt to hold ourselves well in check, following the principle; Love art in yourself, and not yourself in art.

Evolutionary Psychology

Exhibitionism - There are actors who are in love with themselves, who always show, not images and creations, but themselves. They need Romeo and Hamlet to play only as a frivolous girl needs a new dress. Many actors use their lines as a vehicle to exhibit some vocal attributes, diction, manner of recitation, and the technique of their own voice production.

There are many cases where stage charm has brought ruin to an actor because he has devoted his interest and technical equipment to the sole purpose of self-exhibition. It is almost as if nature revenges herself on an actor for his inability to make the right use of her gifts, because self-admiration and exhibitionism impair and destroy the power of charm. The actor becomes the victim of his own splendid, innate endowment.

Expectation - Expectations are heavily invested beliefs about what will occur in the future, or how another should behave. Characters almost always expect to achieve their goals/objectives. Specifically identifying/creating a character's expectations, both in life and momen-to-moment in the story, is a vital part of an Actor's work on a role. Audiences generally want to see characters who expect to win and be successful at most of what they do, regardless of what the script dictates will happen to their character. A character faced with expectations unrealized makes for good drama.

Externals- This is also called "Outside-In Approach" by many acting theorists and teachers. Externals is one of the most powerful tools of acting.

Altering your physical and vocal external presentation (including the clothes you wear, your accent, the way you walk, etc.) can dramatically change the way you internally think and feel about the world, yourself and others -- changing the "character" you are quite significantly.

Imagine how your feelings, thoughts and sense of who you are would change if you were suddenly wearing a $5,000 tuxedo and driving around with a full security force protecting you in armored cars.Externals is the primary (and sometimes only) tool many actors use to create specific and original characterizations that are far different from their habitual personas.Externals can begin with the very specific observation and study of the characteristics of an object: a person, animal, or thing. Once the observation/study is complete, you rehearse the specific physical and/or vocal characteristics of the object until you are able to "live" those characteristics without conscious effort.

Some actors interview people and use the person's physical, emotional and vocal characteristics as the basis for crafting characters. This is the best way, in Jason Bennett's opinion, to learn a dialect: interview a native speaker, then rehearse and internalize their voice as your own. You should also rehearse and internalize their mannerisms, as their physical body language is very influenced by where they are from and is part of their "character." Including their body language in your work will make your chracterization much more specific. -- a key to great acting.

The clothing, physical and vocal choices you choose to experiment with during a rehearsal process are also Externals techniques, if the goal of these external choices is to help you discover your character's internal "reality."

Doing impressions of people and the Farmer's Market exercise are Externals techniques.In conclusion, many actors find a character's feelings and thoughts by approaching characterization using various Externals techniques -- from the outside-in. If you study an object that is very different from you as the basis for a characterization, the "character" you create has the potential to be far different from your habitual persona. This is the essence of great "character acting," in the vein of Anthony Hopkins and Merryl Streep.The Jason Bennett Actors Studio offers intensive acting workshops on the Externals/Outside-In approach to acting. Consider signing up for this life-changing workshop intensive soon. In the meantime, read Irreverent Acting by Eric Morris, who goes into great detail about the specific process of using various Externals techniques.

An actor is under the obligation to live his part inwardly, and then to give this experience an external embodiment in a beautiful, and artistic form. The dependence of the body on the soul is particularly important in our school of art. In order to express a most delicate and largely subconscious life, it is it necessary to have control over an unusually responsive, excellently prepared vocal and physical apparatus. That is why an actor, of our type, is obliged to work so much more than others, on his outer physical apparatus.

When the body transmits neither the actor s feelings nor the how he experiences them, there is an out-of-tune, inferior instrument on which a fine musician is obliged to perform. The more complex the life of a human spirit, in the part being portrayed, the more delicate, compelling, and artistic should be the physical form that clothes it. This makes an enormous call on our external technique, on the expressiveness of our bodily apparatus, our voice, diction, intonation, handling of words, phrases, speeches, our facial expression, plasticity of movement, way of walking. You must still go on developing, correcting, tuning your bodies until every part of them will respond to the complex task of presenting your invisible feelings in external form. What classis part can you hope to play if you do not possess an adequately trained physical apparatus? You may have a magnificent line of feelings inside you, but you will not be able to produce them on stage. You cannot play Bach or Beethoven beautifully on an untuned instrument, nor sing an opera with an untrained voice.

Faith - An actor must have, above all, belief in what is happening around him and in what he himself is doing. From the instance when he is transported from the plane of actuality to that of an imagined life and believe in it, he can begin to create. We can use ordinary chairs to outline anything the imagination of an author, or director asks us to create: horses, city squares, ships, forests. It will do no harm if we find ourselves unable to believe that this chair is a particular object because even without the belief we may have the feeling it arouses. Truth on the stage is whatever can believe in with sincerity, whether in ourselves or in our colleagues. Truth cannot be separated from belief, nor belief from truth, and without both of them, it is impossible to live your part, or to create anything. Believe in what you yourself say or do on the stage and you will be convincing.

Farmer's Market exercise - This is an instrumental craft technique that involves studying and eventually embodying the movements, physicality, psychology, energy and voice of a real person as the basis for a character you are working on. It is called a Farmer's Market because it is like going to a market to "pick out" a person to use as the basis for your characterization -- you can do it in the subway, on the street, or more formally in a sit-down interview with someone you've chosen. This falls into the category of Externals, a fundamental tool for actors. The exercise name was coined by Eric Morris. (See Externals above)

Fantasy - Imagination creates things that can be or happen, whereas fantasy invents things that are not in existence, which never have or will be. Both imagination and fantasy are indispensable. Science, literature, painting  they only hint at imaginary flights into the realm of the nonexistent. In dreaming about this, the major creative work is done by our fantasy. And here it is more necessary than ever to make use of means to draw what is fantastic closer to what is real: logic and continuity. They help to make the impossible more probable.


Feller, Barbara

First Acquaintance with a Play - As important an event as your acquaintance with the work of a poet, this moment of your first meeting with a part should be unforgettable. This decisive significance is attributed to these first impressions. If the impressions are properly received, that is a great gauge of future success. The loss of this moment is irreparable because a second reading no longer contains the element of surprise so potent in the realm of intuitive creativeness. To correct a spoiled impression is more difficult that to create a proper one in the first place. One must be extraordinarily attentive to one s first acquaintance with a part because this is the first stage of creativeness.



Gesture - A gesture made for its own sake has no place in the stage. We have no use for ballet methods, for theatrical poses or gestures that are superficial in origin. They cannot convey the life of a human spirit. We would do better to adapt these theatrical conventions, poses, and gestures to the execution of some live objective, to the expression of some inner experience. Then a gesture ceases to be merely a gesture and is converted into a genuine, meaningful, and purposefully action. Superfluous gestures are the same as trash, dirt, and spots. Above all, let every actor hold his gestures in check to the extent that he controls them, and not they him.

>A gesture by itself, which does not carry out some action germane to a role, has no purpose on the stage except in a few, rare instances where it is related to a character part. No conventional gesture can convey the inner life of a role, nor promote its through line of action. For that purpose, movements that create physical activity are needed. Unmotivated gestures should be rejected on the stage. Only action and movement are accepted.

Given Circumstances - The circumstances the playwright has provided for you in the text -- about your character, about other characters, the time, place, relationships, and story.

This expression means the story of the play, the facts, events, epoch, time and place of action, conditions of life, the actors  and director s interpretation, the mise-en-scene, the production, the sets, the costumes, properties, lighting and sound effects  all circumstances that are given to an actor to take into account as he creates his role. The Magic If is the starting point, then given circumstances, then development.

Goal/Intention/Objective - Everything you do in life you do for a reason. Goals/intentions/objectives are what a character is pursuing in life as a whole (super-objectives) and moment-to-moment on-stage. Goals should be articulated with verbs and in short, simple sentences. Examples: I want to humiliate her, I want to seduce him. Identifying a character's goals in life and moment-to-moment throughout the story is fundamental script analysis.

Grotowski, Jerzy - See Biography of Jerzy Grotowski

Habit - Habit is a two-edged sword. It can do great harm when badly used on the stage, and can be of great value when proper advantage is taken of it. It is essential to establish the right creative state by forming trained habits. The unfortunate and dangerous part is that habits can be developed in the wrong direction. The more often an actor appears on the stage and acts in a theatrical, untrue way and not according to the true dictates of his nature, the farther he will move away from the goal we seek to achieve. It is essential to work step by step when you are learning to establish trained habits. Piecemeal the system enters the actor, until it becomes incorporated in his own second nature. The difficult should be habitual, the habitual easy, the easy, beautiful  (S. M. Volkonski).

Hagen, Uta - See Biography of Uta Hagen

Hart, Roy


High-Tension Acting - Different actors have different conceptions of effect through speech. Some of them try to find it in physical tension. They clench their fist, and they heave, making themselves shake from head to toe, all for the sake of impressing the public. Under that method the voice is pressed out in a horizontal line. This is called high-tension  acting. Actually, it does not produce volume; it only leads to shouting, to hoarseness with a narrowed vocal range.


Hornby, Richard

Howard, Michael - See Biography of Michael Howard


"I AM" - In acting, this means that an actor has put himself into the center of imaginary circumstances, that he exists at the heart of imaginary life, in a world of imaginary things, and that he on the point of going to action, on his own responsibility.

As a participant, you cannot see yourself, but only what surrounds you. You can react to you inner nature to what is going on as truly as in real life. In you, sense the truth in a play subconsciously, your faith in it will naturally follow, and so will the state of I am.  The smallest action or sensation, the slightest technical means, can acquire a deep significance only if it is pushed to its limit of possibility, to the boundary of human truth, faith and the sense of I am.  When this point is reached, your whole spiritual and physical make-up will function normally.

Ideal Artist - Imagine some ideal artist who has decided to devote himself to a single, large purpose in life; to elevate and entertain the public by a high form of art; to expound the hidden, spiritual beauties in the writings of poetic geniuses. His whole life will be consecrated to this cultural mission. Another type of artist may use his personal success to convey his own ideas and feelings to the masses. Great people may have a variety of high purposes. In their cases, the super-objective of any one production will be merely a step in the fulfillment of an important life purpose, a supreme-objective.

Ideal Future - This is the collective set of beliefs a character holds about what will occur in the future. As you work on a role, specifically identifying what a character's ideal future is vital. Where will your chracter be in 1 year, 5 years? What will her life be like, financially, emotionally, geographically? The more you imagine and create the world of your character, the more invested you will be in the circumstances of the play.

Identify/Empathize - To identify or empathize with a point of view means you are able to access the genuine experience of that point of view, beyond a mere rational understanding of what the point of view is. Having the ability to experience the points of view/worldviews of characters is essential to being an actor of the highest caliber. Being unable to access the experience of a character's points of views/worldviews means that you will almost certainly fail to create a compelling "characterization" because by definition you will have no experiential understanding of the character's reality. This is the opposite of objectification.


Imaginary Objects - When you reach the point of playing Hamlet, threading away through his intricate psychology to the moment when he kills the King, will it be important for you to have a life-size sword in your hand? If you lack one, will you be unable to finish your performance? You can kill the King without a sword and you can light a fire without matches. What needs to burn is your imagination. In communion with an imaginary, unreal, nonexistent object, such as an apparition, some people try to delude themselves into thinking that they really see it. They exhaust all their energy and attention on such an effort. But an experienced actor knows that the point does not lie in the apparition itself, but in his inner relation to it. Therefore he tries to give an honest answer to his own question: What should I do if a ghost appeared before me?

Imagination Imagination creates things that can be or happen. Every movement you make on the stage, every word you speak, is the result of the right life of your imagination. The creative process starts with the imaginative invention of a poet, a writer, the director of a play, the actor, the scene designer, and others in the production, so the first in order should be imagination. If imagination plays such an important part in an actor s work, what can he do if he lacks it? He must develop it, or else leave the stage. It all depends on what kind of an imagination you have. The kind that has initiative will work untiringly, whether you are awake or asleep. Then there is the kind that lacks initiative, but is easily aroused. Observation of the nature of gifted people does disclose to us a way to control the emotion needed in a part. This way lies through the action of the imagination to which a far greater degree is subject to the effect of conscious will. We cannot directly act on our emotions, but we can prod our creative fantasy and stir up our emotion or affective memory, calling up from its secret depths, beyond the reach of consciousness, elements of already experienced emotions, an re-groups them to correspond with the images which arise in us. That is why a creative fantasy is a fundamental, absolutely necessary gift for an actor.

There are various aspects of the life of the imagination. We can use our inner eye to see all sorts of visual images, living creatures, human faces, their features, landscapes, the material world of objects, settings and so forth. With our inner ear we can hear all sorts of melodies, voices, intonations and so forth. We can feel things in imagination at the prompting of our sensation and emotion memory. There are actors of things seen, and there are actors of things heard. The first are gifted with an especially fine inner vision and the second with sensitive inner hearing. For the first type, the easiest way to create an imaginary life is with the help of visual images. For the second type, it is the image of sound that helps.

We can cherish all this visual audible, or other images; we can enjoy them passively, be the audience of our own dreams. Or we can take an active part in those dreams. Every invention of the actor s imagination must be thoroughly worked out. It must be able to answer all the questions (when, where, why, how) that he asks himself when he is driving his inventive faculties on to make a more and more definite picture of make-believe existence. The actor must feel the challenge physically as well as intellectually because the imagination can reflexively affect our physical nature and make it act. Not a step should be taken on the stage without the cooperation of your imagination.

Imaging - Imaging is the process of creating mental images. Dreaming is Imaging. Day-dreams are Imaging. Imagining anything is Imaging.Imaging can be done internally or by externally projecting the images into your environment. It is one of the five fundamental tools of acting.

Actors can use Imaging for many different kinds of purposes: to achieve performance/audition goals and increase confidence; to create the imaginary world of a play; to create a character's past and memories; to create objects (people, places and things) to respond to in your environment; to stimulate specific kinds of emotional life and thought processes; to access subpersonalities; and on and on. Imaging is vast!

The Sensory Process can add dimensions and specificity to the Imaging process. Your images are the doorway into your unconscious, which is where almost all your talent is and which is mostly where good acting comes from.

Dreams can be used by actors in service of creating and accessing "characters" and the imaginary world of the play. This work really is on the cutting-edge of acting training and theory, and dream work is included in classes and workshops with Jason Bennett.

See Eric Morris's books Acting from the Ultimate Consciousness and Acting, Imaging and the Unconscious for an encyclopedic exploration of Imaging.

Improvisation - When teaching is oriented toward a practical and even interesting objective, it is easier to convince students. Our point of departure in training actors is to have them learn by acting improvisations. One cannot go on teaching for years in a classroom and only at the end ask a student to act. N that space of time he will have lost all creative faculty. Creativeness must never cease, the only question being the choice of material on which to base it. In our kind of acting, we make frequent use of improvisations. This kind of creativeness gives freshness and immediacy to a performance.

In the beginning, it is best to take subjects which are within your reach, and not too overburdened with complicated psychology, but even the most primary kind of exercises must be carried to the point of mastery, of virtuosity in execution. It is not the job of teachers to give instruction in how to create, students should only be pushed in the right direction, while training their taste, requiring from them the observance of the laws of nature, and the execution of their simplest exercises carried to the point of art, which is to say absolute truthfulness and technical perfection.

Improvisations, which work out themselves, are an excellent way to develop the imagination. Student actors who have been trained on improvisations later on find it easy to use their imaginative fancy on a play where this is needed. In addition to the development of imagination, improvisations have another asset: while working on one an actor naturally, without even perceiving it, learns the creative laws of organic nature and the methods of psycho-technique.

Improvisation - Improvisation is the act of performing, rehearsing, doing an exercise, etc., with little or no preparation, the mental processes and behavior being created for the first time, as it occurs. Improvisation is one the five fundamental tools an actor uses.Improvisation is a giant category of work that lies all along the Experiential/Conceptual Continuum of Acting.

On the experiential end of the continuum lies Formless Improvisation, simply following whatever mental, vocal and/or behavioral impulses as/if they arise. Formless Improvisation can be used to facilitate more access to a person's psyche, develop the imagination, and integrate an actor's instrumment (their body, voice and psyche). It may also be used in service of creating ensemble among actors.

On the conceptual end of the continuum is improvisation that is very structured, with specific objectives and rules of play. Using rehearsals for exploring characters' emotional relationships in service of honoring the given circumstances of a play is an example of a structured improvisation.

Alternatively, the show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" is an example of comedic improvisation, a form of improvisation with very specific rules of play. In this kind of improvisation, experts in this kind of improvsation rapidly censor some of their impulses while expressing others, the goal being to demonstrate varying degrees of wit and humor for an audience. The audience evaluates the actors in terms of how clever and humorous the resulting behaviors and vocalizations are.

Indicating - Indicating is a traditional acting vocabulary word that is not used at The Jason Bennett Actors Studio. It was used by the first generation of American acting teachers to mean "behaving or emoting without being connected to a truthful impulse" or for no "justified" reason for doing the emoting or behavior.

Jason Bennett's approach reframes the vocabulary in such a way that renders this term useless for actors. The problem with the term "indicating" is that it relies on several assumptions about human psychology that are inaccurate. For example, it is not possible for an actor to disconnect from all impulses. Literally speaking, you cannot have "false" impulses. All impulses arise from your brain. They cannot NOT arise from your brain. Therefore, no matter what you do on stage it is by definition a truthful impulse. There can never be false impulses on stage.

It is more helpful to frame actor behaviors and mental processes as being appropriate for the story of the play or not, rather than as being "indicated" or "truthful."

The vocabulary difference may seem insignificant to some, however many actors are paralyzed by the use of terms like indicating, because it causes a constant internal judgment process that is both uneccessary and illogical.

For further elaboration, see terms such as "real, truthful, honest," and "in-the-moment."

Independent Activity


Inner Images and Hearing - As long as we are acting creatively, this film of unbroken series of images, will be thrown on the screen of our inner vision, making the circumstances vivid among which we are moving. As to these inner images, is it correct to say we feel them inside of us? We possess the faculty to see things that are not there by making a mental picture of them. This inner stream of images is a great help to the actor in fixing his attention on the inner life of his part. The same process occurs when we are dealing with sounds. We hear imaginary noises with our inner ear.

Inner Motive Forces - The first and most important master is feeling. Unfortunately it is untraceable. Since you cannot begin your work unless your feelings happen to function on their own accord, it is necessary for you to have recourse to some other master. The second master is the mind. Your mind can be your motive power in your creative process. Is there a third? If longings could put your creative apparatus to work and direct it spiritually, we have found our third master  will. Consequently, we have three impelling movers in our psychic life.

Since these three forces form a triumvirate, inextricably bound up together, what we say of one concerns the other two. The combined power is of utmost importance to us actors and we should be gravely mistaken not to use it for our practical ends. Actors whose feelings over-balance their intellects will, naturally, in playing Romeo or Othello, emphasize the emotional side. Actors in whom the will is the most powerful attribute will play Macbeth or brand and underscore ambition, or fanaticism. The third type will unconsciously stress, more than is necessary, the intellectual shadings of a part like Hamlet or Nathan the Wise. It is, however, necessary not to allow any one of the three elements to crush out either of the others and thereby upset the balance and necessary harmony. Our art recognizes all three types, and in their creative work, all three forces play leading parts.

Inner Tension - In our inner being there are many superfluous tensions. But it is necessary to handle these inner tensions in quite a different way and not as we deal with plain muscles. Inner elements are like cobwebs in comparison with muscles, which are more like cables. Separate cobwebs can easily be broken up, but if you plait them together into ropes you will not be able to cut them with an axe. So be careful how you handle them in their incipient state. There are three stages; tension, release, and justification. In the first two stages you seek out the severest inner tension, identify what causes it, and destroy it. In the third state, you justify your new inner state on the basis of appropriate given circumstances.

Inner Vision - Inner images are formed inside us, in our imaginations, our memories, and then we externalize them to be examined. Yet we look at these imagined objects, so to say, from the inside, not with our external, but with our inner eyes. To turn the phrase around, although these imaginary objects and images are suggested to us by outside life, they nevertheless are first shaped within us, in our imagination and memory. It is only against the background of such explanations that we can accept the term inner vision. 

Inspiration - The most important difficulty is the abnormal circumstance of an actor s creative work. Other non-performing artists can create when they are under the influence of inspiration. But an actor himself is obliged to call forth his inspiration at the exact time he is advertised to come out and perform. The very best that can happen is to have the actor completely carried away by the play; then regardless of his own will, he lives the part subconsciously and with inspiration. No such genius exists, therefore our art teaches us to create consciously because that will best prepare the way for inspiration. Realism, and even naturalism, in the inner preparation of a part is essential, because it causes your subconscious to work and induces the outbursts of inspiration. We need a creative subconscious and the place to look for it above all is in a stirring objective. When an actor is completely absorbed by some profoundly moving objective, so that he throws his whole being passionately into its execution, he reaches a state we call inspiration.

If today you are in good form and are blessed with inspiration, forget about technique and abandon yourself to your feelings. But an actor should remember that inspiration appears only on holidays. Therefore there must be some other well-prepared course for him to follow and which he can control. The easiest one for him to establish is the line of physical actions. Let him absorb all the technical means at his disposal until they become his very own. Only then may his ultrasensitive inspiration decide to emerge, and take into her power and direction his creative initiative. Give up chasing this phantom, inspiration. Leave it to that miraculous fairy nature.


Intention - See Goal


In your head -




Justification - Put life into all the imagined circumstances and actions until you have completely satisfied your sense of truth and until you have awakened a sense of faith in the reality of your sensations. This is what we call justification of a part. What difference is there between the dry catalogue of facts as read when first becoming acquainted with a play, and the present appraisal of those same facts? Now they are living events in an infinitely exciting day, impregnated with life, indeed an actor s own.


Living A Part - The approach we have chosen  the art of living a part  assets that the main factor in any form of creativeness is the life of human spirit, that of the actor and his part, their joint feelings and subconscious creation. What we hold in highest regard are impressions made on our emotions, which leave a lifelong mark on the spectator and transform actors into real, living beings. Aside from the fact that it opens up avenues for inspiration, living a part helps the artist to carry out one of his main objectives. His job is not to merely present the external life of his character. He must fit his own human qualities to the life of this other person, and pour into it all of his own soul. An Artist takes the best that is in him and carries it over on the stage. The form will vary according to the necessities of the play, but the human emotions of the artist will remain alive, and they cannot be replaced by anything else.

Therefore, no matter how much you act, how many parts you take, you should never allow yourself any exception to the rule of using your own feelings. Salvini said, The great actor should feel the thing he is portraying, not only once or twice while he is studying his part, but to a greater or lesser degree every time he plays it, no matter whether it is the first or thousandth time. 

Always act in your own person. You can never get away from yourself. The moment you lose yourself on the stage marks the departure from truly living your part and the beginning of exaggerated, false acting. Spiritual realism, truth of artistic feelings, these are most difficult achievements of our art, they require long, arduous inner preparation. The difference between my art and that practiced by others is the difference between seeming  and being. 


Logic and Continuity - In every phase of our work w constantly had occasion to speak of logic and continuity. They are of prime importance. Creating must be logical and have continuity. Even illogical and incoherent characters must be presented within the logical plan and framework of a whole play, a whole performance. How to accomplish this? By means of physical actions because they are easier to establish, materially and visually, and are yet closely tied to all the other elements. It is easier to orient one s sell with their aid. Having prepared a logical and coherent line of physical actions, we discover that parallel to it will run a logical and coherent line of emotion. Come to the tragic part of a role, gradually and logically, by carrying out correctly your sequence of external physical actions, and by believing in them. Do not think about your emotions. Think about what you have to do. If you do not adhere strictly to an absolute pattern of logic and continuity, you are in danger of conveying passions, images, actions in a generalized  form.

If an actor keeps in constant exercise he will come to know practically all-human actions from the point of view of their component parts, their consecutiveness and their logic. But this work must be done daily, constantly, like vocalizing of a singer, or the exercises of a dancer, systematic and absolutely valid exercises of actions without props.

Magic If From the moment of the appearance of the Magic If, the actor passes from the plane of actual reality into the plane of another life, created and imagined by him. In order to be emotionally involved in the imaginary world which the actor builds on the basis of a play, in order to be caught up in the action on the stage, he must believe in it. This does not mean he should give himself p to anything like hallucination, quite the contrary. He does not forget that stage scenery and props surround him. He asks himself, But if this were real, how would I react? What would I do?  And normally, naturally this If acts as a lever to lift him into a world of creativity. The secret of the effect of If is that it does not use fear or force. Another quality, it arouses an inner and real activity, an instantaneous inner stimulus, which adds a whole series of contingencies based on your own experience in life, and you will see how easy it will be for you sincerely to believe in the possibility of what you are called upon to do on the stage.

Making Contact



Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs


Material for Creativeness - You must constantly be adding to your store. For this purpose you draw principally upon your own impressions, feelings, and experiences. You also acquire material from life around you, real and imaginary, from reminiscences, books, art, science, knowledge of all kinds, from journeys, museums and above all from communication with other human beings.

>We are asked to interpret the life of human souls all over the world. An actor creates not only the life of his times, but that of the past and future as well. That is why he needs to observe, conjecture, to experience, to be carried away with emotion. If his creation is to interpret the past, the future, or imaginary epoch, he has either to reconstruct or to recreate something out of his imagination. The inner experience of an actor, the circle of his living impressions and emotions, should be certainly be constantly enlarged, because it is only under such conditions that an actor can extend the circle of his own creativeness.

Mechanical Acting - In mechanical acting there is no call necessity for a living process. You will understand this better when you come to recognize the origins and methods of mechanical acting that we characterize as rubber stamp.  Some of these established clichés have become traditional and are passed down from generation to generation; still the actors themselves invent others.

Time and constant habit make even senseless things near and dear. No matter how skillful an actor may be in his choice of stage conventions, because of their inherent mechanical quality, he cannot move the spectators by them, so he takes refuge in what we call theatrical emotions. They are sort of artificial imitation of the periphery of physical feelings. The very worst fact is that clichés will full up every empty spot in a role, which is not already solid with living feeling. Moreover they often push in ahead of feeling that is why an actor must protect himself most conscientiously against such devices. And this is true even of gifted actors, capable of true creativeness.


Meisner, Sanford - See Biography of Sanford Meisner


Method Acting

Method of Physical Action

Mirror, Use of - You must be very careful in the use of a mirror. It teaches an actor to watch the outside rather than the inside of his soul, both in himself and in his part.


Morris, Eric - See Biography of Eric Morris



Naturalism - Those who think that we sought naturalism on the stage are mistaken. We never leaned toward such a principle. We sought inner truth, the truth of feeling and experience. Continuing to play the new for the sake of the new, we declared war on such an interpretation of peasant plays. We wanted to show the real peasant and not only the costume but also the inner physique of his soul. But we had not reached the stage where we could interpret the spiritual side. In order to fill the void, we exaggerated the external side. This remained without inner justification, for lifeless objects, properties, and sounds began to bulge out of the general scheme. This resulted in naked naturalism. And the nearer it was to reality the worse it was. Naturalism on the stage is only natural when it is justified by the inner experience of the actor. It should be advised to all theoreticians, who do not know this from their own experience, to see the words tested on the stage. Naturalism is used for the sake of naturalism. That kind of objective and that kind of scenic truth is anti-artistic.



Objectives - Life, people, circumstances  all constantly put up barriers. Each of these barriers presents us with the objective of getting through it. The division of play into units, to study its structure, has one purpose. There is another, far more important, inner reason. At the heart of every unit is a creative objective. Every objective must carry in itself the germs of action. You should not try to express the meaning of your objective in terms of a noun, but always employ a verb (e.g. I wish  or I wish to do- ). This objective engenders outbursts of desires for the purposes of creative aspiration. It is important that an actor s objectives be in accordance with his capacities. At first it is better to choose simple physical but attractive objectives. Every physical objective will contain something a psychological objective  they are indissolubly bound together. Do not try too hard to define the dividing line, go by your feelings, always tipping the scales slightly in favor of the physical. The right execution of a physical objective will help to create a right psychological state.

An actor should know hot to distinguish among the qualities of objectives, avoiding the irrelevant ones and establishing those appropriate to his part. Appropriate objectives must be on our side of the footlights: personal, yet analogous to those of the character portrayed; truthful so that you yourself, the actors playing with you and your audience, can believe in their clear-cut purpose. They must be distinctly woven into the fabric of your part; active to push your role ahead and not let it stagnate. You should be wary against purely motor objectives that are prevalent in the theater and lead to mechanical performance.


Observation - An actor should be observant not only on the stage but also in real life. He should concentrate with all his being on whatever attracts his attention. There are people gifted by nature with the powers of observation. When you hear such people talk you are struck by the amount that an unobservant person misses. Average people have no conception of how to observe the facial expression, the look of the eye, the tone of the voce, in order to comprehend the state of mind of the person with whom they talk. If they could do this, their creative work would be immeasurably richer, finer, and deeper. This calls for a tremendous amount of work, time, desire to succeed, and systematic practice.

How can we teach unobservant people to notice what nature and life are trying to show them? First of all, they must be taught to look at, listen to, and to hear what is beautiful. Such habits elevate their minds and arouse feelings that will leave deep traces in their emotion memories. Nothing in life is more beautiful than nature, and it should be the object of constant observation. Take a little flower, or a petal from it, or a spider web, or a design made by frost on the windowpane. Try to express in words what it is in these things that gives pleasure. Such an effort causes you to observe the object more closely, more effectively, and do not shun the darker side of nature. Disfigurement often sets off beauty. Search out both beauty and its opposite, and define them, learn to know and see them. Next, turn to what the human race has produced in art, literature, and music.

Obstacle - This is also called the "problem" by many acting theorists. An obstacle is an internal or external circumstance which blocks a character from easily achieving his/her goals. Obstacles can be either psychological or physical. Obstacles can be chosen by an actor or contained in the given circumstances of the play. In Acting Power, Robert Cohen writes, "The excitement of a theatrical performance derives from the confrontation of the character's ideal future and his obstacles."

Opposites, Playing the

Outside-In Approach-

Outward Focus




Point of view


Primary-process thinking -

Private Audience



Psychological Gesture

Psychology of Selves


Realism - Among theater leaders, actors, spectators, critics, there are many who prefer theatricality and artificiality. They are surfeited with realistic actuality on the stage. Only not the way it is in real life!  they say. To get away from it they search out the most exaggerated anti-realistic forms. In contrast to them are those who prefer and accept in the teater only natural truthfulness, realism. They are not afraid of the catharsis of their souls through powerful impressions. All they want on the stage is a reflection of the real life of human souls.

In both cases there are excesses. In the first, the sharpness of the theatricality is carried to the point of the absurd, and in the second, the simplicity and naturalness  is pushed to the limits of ultra-naturalism. For example, an actor exaggerates truth in a death scene to an undesirable degree with crams, nausea, groans, horrible grimaces  indulging in naturalism for its own sake instead of being preoccupied with the last moments of a human soul. Truth on the stage must be real, but rendered poetic through creative imagination. Impressionism, and other isms  in art are accepted only in so far as they represent realism in a refined, ennobled, distilled form.


Reciprocal Characterization

Reciprocal Stylization

Rehearsal - An actor must constantly practice to achieve a true creative mood at all times, whether he is performing, rehearsing, or working at home. Some actors have the insufferable habit of rehearsing in barely perceptible, low tones when speaking their lines. That can do nothing but form bad habits. What is your partner to drive from such cues? An actor is obligated to produce his part in full, to give the right responses to his partner, follow correctly the laid-out line of the play and respond to what is said to him by his partner, otherwise a rehearsal loses all meaning. If everyone takes the right attitude towards collective obligations, comes to rehearsals properly prepared, then a splendid atmosphere is established.

There are many actors who do not take creative initiative. They come to the rehearsal and wait until they are led along a path of action. After great effort the director can sometimes succeed in striking sparks in such passive natures. Only directors know how much work, inventiveness, patience, nervous strength, and time it takes to push such actors of weak creative impulse ahead, away from their dead center. Need it be explained that drones that profit by the work and creativeness of others are an infinite drag on the accomplishment of the whole group. One cannot rehearse at the expense of others. Each actor must bring to rehearsal his own living emotions. Actors are not puppets. When you reach the stage of virtuosity in your psycho-technique, rehearsals go easily, quickly, and according to plan.

Relacom - Relationship Communication


Relaxation of Muscles - You cannot have any conception of the evil that results from muscular spasms and physical contractions. Actors usually strain themselves in the exciting moments. Therefore at times of great stress it is especially necessary to achieve a complete freedom of muscles. In fact, in the high moments of a part the tendency to relax should become more normal than the tendency to contract. Let the tenseness come if you cannot avoid it. But immediately let your control step in and remove it. Until this control becomes a habit, give a lot thought to it. Later, this relaxing of the muscles should become a normal phenomenon. Among the nervous people of our generation this muscular tenseness is inescapable. To destroy it completely is impossible, but we must struggle with it incessantly. This removal of unnecessary tenseness should be developed to the point where it becomes a normal habit and a natural necessity, not only during the quieter parts of your role, but especially at times of the greatest nervous and physical lift.

Repeated Feelings - Do we, as a matter of fact, ever feel things on the stage for the first time? Feelings we have never experienced in real life? These direct, powerful and vivid emotions do not make their appearance on the stage in the way you think. They flash out in short episodes. In that form they are highly welcome. The unfortunate part about them is that we cannot control them. They control us. Therefore, we have no choice but to leave it to nature. We will only hope that they will work with the part and not at cross-purposes to it.

An infusion of unexpected, unconscious feelings is very tempting. It is what we dream about, and it is a favorite aspect of our art. But you must not minimize the significance of repeated feelings drawn from emotion memory  on the contrary, you should be completely devoted to them, because they are the only means by which you can, to any degree, influence inspiration.

"Representation" Acting - In it the actor also lives his part. This partial identity with our method makes it possible to consider this other type also true art. Yet the actor lives his part only as a preparation for perfecting an external form. Once that is determined he reproduces that form through the aid of mechanically trained muscles. Living you role is not the chief moment of creation, but one of the preparatory stages for further artistic work. Often, such actors are extremely skillful in technique, and are able to get through a part with no expenditure of nervous force; they often think it unwise to feel. This type of art is less profound than beautiful, it is more immediately effective than truly powerful; in it the form is more interesting than the content. Delicate and deep human feelings are not subject to such technique. The art of representation demands perfection if it is to remain an art.



Restraint in Gestures - An actor s performance, which is cluttered up with a multiplicity of gestures, will be like a messy sheet of paper. Before he undertakes the external creation of his character, he must rid himself of all superfluous gestures. He should so harness them that he will always be in control of them. An excessive use of gesture dilutes a part. In addition to gestures, actors make many involuntarily movements in an effort to help themselves over difficult spots in their part. Such movements take the form of compulsive cramps, needless as well as harmful over-tenseness. How agreeable it is to see an artist on the stage when he exercises restraint and does not indulge in all these convulsive, cramped gestures. We see the pattern on his part emerge distinctly because of that restraint.

Restraint of gesture is of particular importance in the field of characterization. It often happens that an actor can find only three of four characteristic typical gestures. To be satisfied requires utmost economy of movement. Characteristic gestures cannot be repeated too often or they lose their effect. Among the finest qualities of artist in the theater that have achieved supreme rank are their restraint and finish.


Role Inside the Actor - Among the large number of parts played by an actor, there are some that seem to have been creating themselves in his inner consciousness for a long time. He has only to touch it and it comes to life without any searching or mechanical preparation. The role and its image have been created within him by nature itself. The actor ceases to act, he brings to live the life of the play. The author s words become his words. This is a miracle for the sake of which we are willing to make any sacrifices, to be patient, suffer and work.

In separate moments, or even throughout whole scenes, you feel yourself inside your hole, in the atmosphere of the play, and some of the sensations of the character you portray come very close to your own. This merging with your part we call the achievement of a sense of being inside your part, and its being inside of you.

It is a great piece of good fortune when an actor can instantly grasp the play with his whole being, his mind and his feelings. In such happy but rare circumstances, it is better to forget all about laws and methods, and give himself up to the powr of the creative nature. But these circumstances are so rare that one cannot count on them. They are as rare as the moments when an actor immediately grasps an important line of direction, a basic section of a play. Why is it that some parts of a play come to life while others leaves us without feeling? That happens because the places that are infused with immediate life are congenial to us, familiar to our emotions. Later on, when we become better acquainted with and feel closer to the play, we will find that these points of light grow until they finally fill out our entire role.

Secondary-process thinking -


Sense of Truth on the Stage - A sense of truth is the best stimulus to emotion, imagination, and creativeness. At the base of every art is a reaching out for artistic truth. The actor must believe in everything that takes place on the stage, and most of all in what he himself is doing and one can believe only in the truth. There is no such thing as actuality on the stage. Art is the product of the imagination, as the work of a dramatist should be. The aim of the actor should be to turn the play into a theatrical reality. Everything must be real in the imaginary life of a character.

Scenic truth is not like truth in life; it is peculiar to itself. We are not concerned with the actual naturalistic existence of what surrounds us on the stage; the reality of the material world. This only supplies a general background for our feelings. What counts is not the material out of which Othello s dagger is made, be it steel or cardboard, but the inner feeling of the actor who can justify his suicide as if the circumstances and conditions were real. It is necessary for the actor to develop to the highest degree his imagination, a childlike naïveté, an artistic sensitivity to truth, in his body and soul.

Sense Memory - See Sensory Process.

Sensory Process - The Sensory Process is one of the five fundamental tools of acting. It is used to support the Imaging process in the creation of imaginary people, places or things (objects). It is also used to re-create real people, places or things from your life, such that they are "present" for you while acting. When it is used in the latter fashion, it is most often called "Sense Memory." The Sensory Process trains your senses to respond to objects as if they are really there.

Whether using it to create real or imaginary objects, the Sensory Question Process is done by asking yourself dozens or hundreds of sensory questions about the object you are (re-)creating, and responding with your senses. This means it is a sensorial process, not a rational one. It is also vital this process occur outside your head, externally around you. You are creating objects in your environment for you to respond to, not inside your head.

For example, you might want to re-create your father (a real object) so that you can speak to him during a "monologue" in an audition. To do this using the Sensory Process, you would ask yourself sensory questions out loud, in the following manner:

"What color is his hair? (respond by seeing his hair wherever you decide he is in front of you)...What style is his hair? (respond by seeing the answer, not saying it out loud)...How many shades of color are in his hair? (respond by seeing the answer)...What is the size of his nose?...What color are his eyes?...What color shirt is he wearing?...What is the style of the shirt?...What is the expression on his face? (see the answer and allow the image to change as it wants to)...What does he smell like? (respond by smelling the air, we have switched to a new sense)...What does his voice sound like? (hear him speaking)...What is he saying?...What does he feel like to the touch? (respond by reaching out and touching him in the air in front of you)...etc...etc."

You can go on this way, literally asking hundreds of questions, for as long as you need to until your father is "present" for you and you are able to respond to him as you work, "as if" he was there.

You can use the Sensory Question Process to encourage specificity and dimensionality in the objects you are creating. For example, you may want to create a terrible dungeon as the place you are in. You would do this by asking yourself all kinds of sensory questions as you Image the dungeon in your external environment. The Sensory Question Process triggers and develops Imaging.

The Sensory Process should involve all your senses. Over time, you may notice some senses trigger your imagination and responses more efficiently than others.

At first, the Sensory Process may seem difficult and laborious. But with practice, it will dramatically expand the specificity and dimensionality of your imagination, and your ability to concentrate -- two vital traits of great actors. Over time, the Sensory Process becomes almost automatic, as your intuition takes over. As this occurs, you will notice you can "create" objects and entire worlds, real or imaginary, more and more efficiently.

Sincerity of Emotions - Pushkin spoke of sincerity of emotions, feelings that seem true in given circumstances.  That is exactly what is expected of an actor. We filter through ourselves all the materials that we receive from the author and the director; we work over them supplementing them out of our own imagination. The material becomes part of us, spiritually, even physically; our emotions are sincere. Once you have established contact between your life and your part, it will be easy for you to sincerely believe in the possibility of what you are called upon to do on the stage or set.

Situational Concentration

Social Conditioning

Social Psychology


Spolin, Viola - See Biography of Viola Spolin


Stage Fright - The most important difficulty is the abnormal circumstance of an actor s creative work  it must be done in public, and muscular tautness, which interferes with inner emotional experience, will set in whenever an actor appears in public. Once, an actor was helping a man pick up nails that had fallen on the stage during rehearsals  then he was absorbed by the simple act and forgot the black hole beyond the footlights. He realized from the very moment he concentrated on something behind the footlights he ceased to think about what was going on in front of them.

In ordinary life you walk and sit and talk and look, but on stage you lose these faculties. You feel the closeness of the public and you say to yourself, Why are they looking at me?  All our acts become strained before a public of a thousand people.

When that actor stepped away from the darkness of the wings to the full illumination of the footlights, borderlights and spotlights, he was binded. However, as soon as his eyes became accustomed to the light, the fear and the attraction of the public seemed stronger than ever. He was ready to turn himself inside out; inside he d never felt so empty. The effort to squeeze out more emotion than he had, the powerlessness to do the impossible, filled him with fear as his hands turned to stone. All his forces were spent on unnatural and fruitless efforts. The actor is becoming a failure, and in his helplessness he is filled with rage. For several minutes he cut loose everything about himself, and flung out the famous line, Blood, Iago, Blood!  In these words he felt all the injury to the soul of a trusting man. It almost seemed for a moment the listeners strained forward, and that the audience there ran a murmur. The moment the actor felt this approval, a sort of energy boiled up in him. From that point on he could not remember how the scene was finished, because the footlights and the black hole disappeared from his consciousness, and thus became free from all fear. This actor was Stanislavski.

Stanislavski, Konstantin - See Biography of Konstantin Stanislavski

Stone, PhD, Hal and Sidra


Strasberg, Lee - See Biography of Lee Strasberg


Subconscious - One of the main objectives pursued in our approach to acting is the natural stimulus to the creativeness of organic nature and its subconscious. Our technique is directed towards putting our subconscious to work in the creation of artistic truth, and to learn how not to interfere with it once it is in action.

It is fair to say that this technique bears the same relation to subconscious creative nature as grammar does to poetry. We see, hear, understand, and think differently before and after we cross the threshold of the subconscious. Our freedom on this side is limited by reason and conventions; beyond it, our freedom is bold, wilful, active, and always moving forward. Sometimes the tide of the subconscious barely touches an actor and then goes out. At other times it envelops his whole being, carrying him into its depth until, at length, it casts him up again on the shore of consciousness.

It is all very pleasant to think that every bit of creativeness is full of exaltation and complexities. As a matter of fact, we find that even the smallest action of sensation, the slightest technical means, can acquire a deep significance on the stage. When this point is reached, your whole physical and spiritual make-up will function normally, just as it does in real-life. You should feel right from the start, if only for short periods, that blissful sensation which actors have when their creative faculties are functioning truly, and unconsciously. Moreover, this is something you must learn through your own emotions and not in any theoretical way. You will learn to love this state, and constantly strive to achieve it.


Subtext - At the moment of performance the text is supplied by the playwright, and the subtext by the actor. If this were not the case, people would not go to the theater but sit at home and read the play. We are inclined to forget that the printed play is not a finished is not a finished piece of work until it is played on the stage by actors and brought to life by genuine human emotions; the same can be said of a musical score, it is not really a symphony until it is executed by an orchestra of musicians in a concert. As soon as people, either actors or musicians, breathe life of their own into the subtext of a piece of writing to be conveyed to an audience, the spiritual wellsprings, the inner essence are released. The whole point of any such creation is the underlying subtext.

The line of a role is taken from the subtext, not from the text itself. But actors are lazy about digging down to the subtext; they prefer to skim along the surface, using the fixed word that they can pronounce mechanically, without wasting any energy in searching out their inner essence. Unfortunately, this is elusive and difficult to pin down, especially under the exciting and distracting circumstances of public performance. We have to have recourse to inner vision, thought, inner vision.

The most substantial part of a subtext lies in its thought that conveys the line of logic and coherence in a most clear-cut, definite way. One thought gives rise to a second, a third, and all together shape a super-objective. At times the intellectual content of the subtext may predominate, at others the lines of inner vision. It is best when they merge. Then the spoken word is full of action. Words are part of the external embodiment of an inner essence of a role. When you reach the point when words are necessary to you to execute your objective to your best purpose, you will reach for the author s text as joyfully as a violinist reaches for the Amati instrument offered to him; he knows that it will be the best means to express the feelings he harbors inside the depths of his soul.

Super-Objective - The word super-objective is used to characterize the essential idea, the core, which provided the impetus for the writing of a play. In the play, the whole stream of individual minor objectives, all the imaginative thoughts, feelings and actions of an actor should converge to carry out this super-objective. Also this impetus toward the super-objective must be continuous throughout the whole play.

You cannot reach the super-objective by means of your mind. The super-objective requires complete surrender, passionate desire, and unequivocal action. The most powerful stimuli to creative subconscious creativeness are the through line of action and the super-objective. They are the principal factors in art.


Symbolism - It is a hard nut to crack  the symbol. It is successful when t has its source not in the mind, but in the inner soul. In this sense, symbol and grotesque are alike. It is necessary to play a role hundreds of times, to crystallize its essence, to perfect the crystal, and in showing it, to interpret the quintessence of its contents. The symbol and the grotesque symbolize feelings and life. They gather in bright, daring and compressed form the multiform contents of the role.

Symbolism, impressionism, and other highly distilled isms  belong in the realm of the superconscious and begin where ultra-naturalism leaves off. But it is only when the inner and outer life of an actor on the stage is developed naturally in accordance with the laws of nature that the superconscious will emerge from its secret sources.


Talent Talent is not easy to define or dissect. Talent is often buried deep, and difficult to evoke. Talent is the felicitous combination of many creative capacities in a person, governed by his generative will.Technique exists above all for those who possess talent and inspiration. It serves consciously to stimulate superconscious creativity. The more talent an actor has the more he cares about his technique.

A true creative state, while on the stage, and all the elements that go to compose it, were the natural endowments of Shchepkin, Ermolova, Duse, Salvini. Nevertheless, they worked unremittingly on their technique. Inspiration came to them by natural means almost every time they repeated a role, yet all their lives they sought an approach to it. In our art it is dangerous to mature too rapidly without determined effort. A talent may be no more than a pretty toy rattle. Talent includes physical attributes, memory, imagination, sensitiveness, and impressionability. A person may be ugly in real-life, but fascinating on the stage, and that is better than being beautiful. One may have only a modicum of various qualities but make a powerful effect if possessed of stage charm. On the contrary a much larger talent may be utterly ineffective, lacking the power to attract.













Voice Dialogue