Dear Actors in Class...
Dear Actors in Class,
So, my current re-read is the acting classic ‘Advice to the Players’ by the legendary theater director Robert Lewis . Original member of the Group Theatre. Co-founder of the Actor's Studio . Chairman of the Yale Acting and Directing departments during the 70’s. Meryl Streep studied there during his tenure.
Lewis acting in Charlie Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux
His book, published in 1980, serves as my inspiration for my advice to all actors taking an acting class or classes.
Here’s what Robert Lewis writes in his Preface:
“…when you get in trouble with a role you can then turn to your technical knowledge for help.”
I will be exploring rehearsal techniques in future posts.
He then quotes, Martha Graham:
“The aim of techniques is to free the spirit.”
Robert Lewis then says, “Anyone caught on stage playing his technique instead of the scene gives a bad name to any serious investigation of the problems of the acting craft!”
I added the exclamation point. I feel like I can hear him emphasizing it at Yale back in the day.
Lewis continues, “To help bridge the gap from the classroom to the stage, it’s a good idea to perform…with all the devotion you’d give to a moment in performance. You cannot…expect that by some miracle when you get on stage as Othello the greatness of the part will infuse you with a power and conviction you failed to cultivate in your preparatory work. (Singing) a high ‘A’ is a high ‘A’ whether in the vocal studio or on the operatic stage.”
I think it’s good to be a little nervous before performing a scene in class. Because, let’s just say you do land the dream role on Broadway. Maybe it’s Tom from The Glass Menagerie. Or Laura. Whatever it may be, <insert here> and think about sitting in your dressing room backstage and getting the 5-minutes-to-curtain knock on your opening night.