CAE Reading and Use of English Part 6
Read four extracts from drama school blogs about the acting process. For questions 37-40, choose from the reviews A-D. The extracts may be chosen more than once.
Playing a part
Four aspiring actors comment on how drama school training helps them prepare for a new role.
Some actors have little rituals that they have to carry out every time they start a new part, which may be based on superstition. For them, acting involves a deep personal investment. However, there are also practical considerations when taking on any new part. Is it better to learn all the words by rote, or through some kind of emotional memory? The script itself is fixed, but there are a million ways in which an actor can imagine saying the lines. Wherever this imagination comes from, the actor must first draw on things that they have experienced and know to be true. Because of this, actors are not necessarily the best judge of their own performance since they are too close to it, but if they use the practical techniques learned in drama school they will be better equipped to take on demanding roles and face their critics knowing they have performed well.
It’s a strange thing that the world of the theatre is often connected with deceit and lying – after all, that’s the stuff of good drama, and actors are simply playing a part. But really it’s the opposite, as acting is essentially connected with bringing out some kind of truth. The fact is that truth is everything to do with humanity. And the best part of an actor’s job is to convey that and change the way people think about it. If an audience doesn’t believe in a character on stage, it’s not worth doing. In order to get an audience to believe, there has to be a shared understanding of what truth means; that involves the actor in thinking, evaluating and planning every move beforehand. That’s when acting is at its most demanding, and learning the lines is actually quite mundane. When a performance is a revelation, and completely truthful in what it says about life, it lifts both audience and the actors on to a different level. So much of what is done in drama schools is based on achieving that.
Most acting workshops teach actors to be flexible and loose in their approach to a role, to use their imagination and be as open as possible. This is key to the success of actors when establishing a new character. When it comes to fixing the emotions of character, there is no point in trying to create unrealistic emotions because what people in real life do is reach to other people around them; they don’t walk around summoning up states of anger or fear at a moment’s notice. Actors have to do the same thing night after night, and may lose the ability to see how well it is being done or even engage emotionally. The irony is that actors must appear to be spontaneous, yet they know what the other characters on stage are going to say. The audience must believe in their characters and understand a greater truth. Yet clearly, the actor is simply playing a part, and how well he or she does that is for others to judge.
Drama schools teach aspiring young actors that there is no one right way to do things —there are different approaches to developing a character, although the practical techniques of voice projection and so on are clearly the same. Some actors totally immerse themselves in the character they’re playing, even staying in character when off-stage. Other consider this self-indulgent, and rely on imagination and spontaneity to carry them through. After all, imagination is not something concrete that can be manipulated and the aim of the actor is to convey his or her version of the truth of the play to the audience. Every actor wants to achieve a performance that really reaches an audience and helps them look at something in a new way.
Which blogger …
37 expresses a different view from the others about what’s important when preparing a role?
38 has a similar view to A about an actor’s assessment of his or her own performance?
39 has a different opinion to the others about what makes a good performance?
40 shares B’s opinion about what is most satisfying about acting?