What Is Acting? Understand the History and Essential Elements of Acting

Acting, playing, or acting is the activity of telling a story through the actions of an actor who imitates the actions of a character. Acting may be performed in theatre, television, film, radio, or any other medium that uses mimetic modes. Most of the research from ancient sources on Western culture (Greek: ὑπόκρισις, hypocrisis ) considers acting as part of rhetoric.

Acting involves a wide range of skills in terms of developing imagination, emotional control, physical expressiveness, vocal projection, speech prowess, and the ability to interpret drama. Acting also requires the ability to use dialect, accent, improvisation, observation. In addition, it requires emulation, pantomime and stage combat.

Most novice actors develop their skills by attending specialist programs or colleges, while most professional actors receive regular and ongoing training. Instructors and teachers are provided to the cast for various trainings. Training activities include singing activities, work scenes, audition techniques, and acting in front of the camera.

Acting History

One of the first actors known to have been an ancient Greek was an Athens resident named Thespis. He is from Ikaria. Aristotle writes in his Poetics (ca. 335 BCE) that Thespis chose to stop working from the dithyrambic chorus .

The name Thespis is derived from the word “thespian”. He called Thepsis a separate character. Before Thespis, he was a choir actor by mentioning a character named Dionysus. After he left, he replaced the name Dionysus with his own designation.

Two centuries after that event, Aristotle then distinguished these two types of storytelling with action and narrative and used the terms “mimesis” for storytelling with action and “diegesis” for storytelling with narrative.

Actor Training

Member of First Studio when Konstantin Stanislavski began developing his actor training program. This program forms the basis for most of the professional training in the Western world.

Conservatory and drama school training usually lasts anywhere from two to four years just to learn all aspects of acting. Meanwhile, most universities offer training programs of three to four years.

Within universities, students may choose to focus on acting while studying other aspects of theatre. Each school uses a different approach to teaching acting. The most popular method in North America is the Konstantin Stanislavski program. This program was developed and popularized in America as a method used by Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, and Sanford Meisner.

Another approach is a physical-based orientation. This approach was promoted by theater practitioners, including Anne Bogart, Jacques Lecoq, Jerzy Grotowski and Vsevolod Meyerhold. Acting classes also include psychotechnics, mask work, physical theatre, improv, and acting on camera.

In addition to the school approach, trainees must attend intensive training. This approach uses textual interpretation, sound and movement. Extensive auditions are generally used to select drama and conservatory programs to be awarded.

Registrants come from participants who are over 18 years old. Some types of training can also be started at a younger age. Professional classes and schools with participants under the age of 18 are common. Young actors are introduced by coaches to various aspects of acting and theatre. One of these aspects is scene study.

Physiologically calm and relaxed training takes place with increased speech training and exposure. Changes in stress are measured by counting the number of heartbeats of public speakers. Anxiety is measured when the heart rate increases. Performance-enhanced actors had lower heart rates and evidence of stress.

Speech is an important exercise for actors, because it includes adaptation actions that can regulate anxiety from within and from outside oneself. Action physiology will increase by attending an institution with a specialization in acting. The body becomes more relaxed and stress can be reduced. The effects are hormonally healthy to cognitive health. These effects can affect quality of life and performance.


Elements in Acting

1. Improvisation in Acting

Two masked characters from the commedia dell’arte , which involve a degree of improvisation.

Several forms of classical acting make use of a substantial element. Acting is done with improvisation from the cast. An example of improvisation is in the commedia dell’arte troupe. This group is a form of masked comedy which is often performed in Italy.

Russian theater practitioner Konstantin Stanislavski made improvisation his primary approach to acting. He developed a system of actor training in the 1910s. Late in 1910, Stanislavski was invited to Capri to discuss with playwright Maxim Gorky. The two discuss training and grammar in acting.

Gorky was inspired by the popular theatrical performances in Naples which made use of the commedia dell’arte technique. He suggested that Stanislavski form a company with him. In addition, he suggested that this company emulate medieval walking players. In this drama model, a new play is co-designed by a scriptwriter and a group of young actors through improvisation.

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Stanislavski agreed and expanded on this use of improvisation in his work with his first studio at the Moscow Art Theatre. Stanislavski’s students developed his system of approach acting. Two of Stanislavski’s students were Michael Chekhov and Maria Knebel.

The use of improvisation was pioneered in England in the 1930’s by Joan Littlewood. The use of improvised techniques was then continued by Keith Johnstone and Clive Barker. Meanwhile in the United States, Viola Spolin became the first person to promote improvisation. He began his promotion after starting work with Neva Boyd at the Hull House in Chicago, Illinois.

Spolin was Boyd’s student from 1924 to 1927. Like British practitioners, Spolin believed play to be a useful tool in the training and improvement of actor performance. He believes that improvisation can make a person discover freedom of expression. The reason is that improvisation changes with certain conditions.

Improvisation requires an open mind so that spontaneity can be maintained. This is different from planning a response in advance. Actors create a character without referring to the dramatic text so that a drama can be developed from spontaneous interactions with other actors. This approach has been substantially developed by British filmmaker Mike Leigh. He did this in films such as Secrets & Lies (1996), Vera Drake (2004), Another Year (2010), and Mr. Turners (2014).

2. Physiological Effects in Acting

Stress can arise when actors are talking or acting in front of an audience. This stress causes an increase in heart rate. However, an actor’s mistakes can also be covered by improvising.

In 2017, a study was conducted of college students in the United States studying acting. The cast displayed the same elevated heart rates throughout their performances despite varying experience levels. This is in accordance with the results of previous studies that increased heart rate, both in professional actors and amateur actors.

Stress is experienced by all types of actors, but there are differences in the varying number of heartbeats. More experienced actors have heart rates that change over a small range of values. While amateur actors have varying heart rates with a larger range. The stress experienced by more experienced actors is less than that of amateur actors. Heart rate stability is thus determined by the experience level of a cast.

3. Semiotics in Acting

Antonin Artaud compares the effect an actor’s performance has on the audience in the Theater of Cruelty . The comparison is done by means of a snake dance that can affect snakes.

Acting uses the science of semiotics to know about ways to start a performance by using the audience as a sign. Semiotics mostly involves the formation of meanings that affect the performance of actors in a wider context. Dramatic action in the real world can shape the relationship between each actor.


Difference between Stage and Film Acting

Acting can be done on television, theater or stage and film. Acting performed in the theater or stage is known as stage acting, while acting in front of a camera is usually called film acting. Well, there is a difference between stage and film acting, you know!

Stage acting is the motion, dialogue, and facial expressions shown by an actor or actress on the stage. Film acting is the movement and dialogue of the actors that will be recorded using a camera in a set. The sets are built by several divisions. These divisions include artistic, lighting, sound, image, make-up, costume, and so on. Both types of acting have their own criteria and ways of practicing. Here are five differences between stage and film acting that you should know about!

1. Vocals

Vocals are one of the most obvious differences. In doing stage acting, actors and actresses must have vocals that are loud and clear. Why? Because in stage acting, an actor and actress must be able to reach the audience’s hearing from the front row to the back row.

In addition to loud and clear vocals, an actor and actress who performs stage acting is required to have proper articulation and intonation. In contrast to film acting, actors and actresses are not too burdened with vocals. This is because there is a sound engineer who installs a clip on for each player, and a boom mic to cover the atmosphere. The results of this sound recording will be edited by a sound engineer so that they can produce the desired sound.

2. Body Movement

In simple terms, the stage acting of the player’s gestures will be more exaggerated than the film acting. Why? Because stage acting must be good at representing characters and emotions so that the audience feels close to the ongoing story.

Gesture and flexibility of body movements must be owned by an actor and actress who performs stage acting. An actor or actress who does film acting tends to be able to adapt from everyday habits, especially if the story is a drama. The gestures and gestures of film actors can be covered from various camera angles so that the audience is able to feel the emotion and closeness to the story and the characters.

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3. Facial expressions and expressions

Facial expressions and facial expressions are similar, but not the same. Expression is an expression of feelings shown through body movements, speech and face. Facial expressions are more detailed than just expressions. Facial expressions can show eye glances, forehead wrinkles, cheek movements, mouth, jaw and neck continuously to form an expression.

In stage acting, actors and actresses must have clear facial expressions and expressions. Eye play is one of the biggest supporting factors for expressing an expression. The eyes are the center of all expressions, ranging from feelings of anger, sadness, happiness, can radiate through the eyes. On stage performances, an actor and actress must be able to express all the feelings of the play he is playing. Expressions and facial expressions must be clear and strong, because they will affect the audience.

In contrast to film acting, actors and actresses must have strong facial expressions and expressions but don’t have to overdo it like stage acting. This is because in film acting, actors and actresses will be exposed from many camera angles. Facial expressions and expressions must be able to convey to the audience, especially if you are acting in a drama or expressing sadness. So, if an actor or actress acting on camera can touch the audience’s heart to feel sad, then the story and acting are successful.

4. Blocking

The difference between stage acting and subsequent films is blocking . If actors and actresses are performing a stage act, they must be aware of the presence of the audience. This is because they must be able to tell the story well to the audience in front of them directly. Apart from the audience, actors and actresses acting on stage must be sensitive to the presence of the documentation team.

Actors and actresses on stage cannot be aware of the camera, even though they know that there is a team of documentation, both photos and videos covering them. Blocking is very important in stage acting, considering that actors and actresses will import a lot and adapt their actions to one another. Coupled with the presence of an audience, the players may not turn their backs to the audience, because it will greatly disrupt the ongoing show.

Blocking actors and actresses in film acting can be done repeatedly. This is very different from stage acting. Blocking is done during the recce , reherseal on location can even be done on the day of shooting. Blocking actors and actresses can also change when there is a change in location or set. This is because there are technical matters that are highly considered, it could be a matter of location, sets, camera techniques, or other technical divisions. Blocking film acting is required not to be aware of the camera, unless there is a concept that requires a subjective camera as the main character.

5. Improvisation

Stage acting and film acting certainly have a different kind of improvisation. Stage acts improvise when three things happen. First, when actors and actresses forget dialogue, they must be able to improvise. Actors and actresses must be sensitive to harmonize improvisation with their opponent’s dialogue according to the scenario that is running.

Second, improvisation is done when an opponent forgets the dialogue or blocks it wrong . As a stage actor and actress, he must be able to cover up mistakes that occur on stage by improvising. Third, actors and actresses must be able to improvise in the event of an accident on a stage, for example, a player’s wardrobe falls off, a player falls, and so on.

The sensitivity of the improvisation of an actor and actress on stage is intended so that the audience can still enjoy the presentation of the story without being disturbed by unwanted things. Actors and actresses who do film acting can improvise dialogue, but rarely can improvise scenes. This is due to careful planning through making floor plans, story boards , and blocking players. Dialogue improvisation is also carried out if there are words that are difficult to pronounce, then dialogue sentences can be simplified.

So, those were 5 differences between stage and film acting. This difference can be used for your acting practice too, you know. Interested in learning and playing acting? Don’t hesitate to continue to develop the talents you have, OK?