Acting; the first six lessons, by Richard Boleslavsky, for. Acting; the first six lessons, by Richard Boleslavsky, for. Download PDF Download EPUB. ACTING ACTING THE FIRST SIX LESSONS RICHARD BOLESLAVSKY A THEATRE ARTS BOOK ROUTLEDGE NEW YORK AND LONDON A Theatr Author. Editorial Reviews. Review. "One wants to quote any number of passages for their wit, the Acting: The First Six Lessons by [Boleslavsky, Richard].
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Richard Boleslavsky Acting: the First Six Lessons (February 4, – January 17 , ). Presented By: Evelyn Forsyth, Megan Rodriguez, Mimi Rife, and Ana. Acting: the first six lessons. by: Boleslavsky, Richard, Publication urn:acs6:actingfirstsixle00bole:pdf:6ac7daae-ba Read Acting: The First Six Lessons by Richard Boleslavsky for free with a 30 day free trial. Read unlimited* books and audiobooks on the web, iPad, iPhone and.
Boleslavsky's chapter on Observation is more reminiscent of meditating and truly taking in all the fragments of life than preparing for a working experience. It is in these moments that I think the practice of learning how to act really are the practice of learning how The world of actors! It is in these moments that I think the practice of learning how to act really are the practice of learning how to live. When I was 20 I made the decision to follow filmmaking instead of acting, and while I don't regret that choice, I am always aware of the true benefits that actors have in learning life lessons.
From learning how to really study people to studying themselves, there is a honesty and depth to that profession which astounds me. Boleslavsky's book is written as dialogues in a play. Making what could be a very esoteric exercise into something engrossing and personal. No unnecessary or empty words. The layout of this book was absolutely clever! I am always amazed after reading any book on acting how it's so much more than a profession.
With all the training and awareness required in order to pretend to be another human being, it's more of a lifestyle. Boleslavsky's chapter on Observation is more reminiscent of meditating and truly taking in all the fragments of life than preparing for a working experience. It is in these moments that I think the practice of learning how to act really are the practice of learning how The world of actors! It is in these moments that I think the practice of learning how to act really are the practice of learning how to live.
I: At your service. I: Bravo! I: Exactly Is that nice? I run after her, and catch her by the hand. I: We are even. What did you do at the beginning of the play? I: Not convincingly, but forcefully. I: Like a stubborn youngster. And you have forgotten that at the same time you walked, sometimes you agreed with me, you observed and studied Mr. I: Never. No human being could. But having the main trunk, or thread of action in mind, what you did was to string on that thread the secondary, or complementary actions like beads on a string, one after another, sometimes overlapping each other but always clear and distinct.
I: Where would they come from, if not as the result of action? I: Describing your actions, you used only verbs—that is significant. A verb is action in itself. I: The author would have written them for you. You would have to memorize your actions as you memorize the music. Moreover, when you know action by heart no interruption or change of order can disturb you. If you have your action confined within one single word, and you know exactly what that action is, you have it inside of you on the call of a split second, how can you be disturbed when the time comes for its delivery?
Your scene, or part, is a long string of beads— beads of action. You play with them as you play with a rosary. You can start anywhere, any time, and go as far as you wish, if you have a good hold on the beads themselves. Shakespeare did not take any chances with actors. He told them right in the beginning what he wanted them to do. On account of the significance of that action and the length of the scene itself it is the hardest thing to act.
To recite it is very easy. The recitation is like the foliage of a tree without the trunk and branches. I: Precisely—just juggling with the modulation of voice and artificial pauses. Even in the best case with a very well trained voice it is only poor music. As drama, it is nil.
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You really looked sorrowful and wistful. That in turn made you think about my words, and you yourself drew the conclusion that I was looking for. I: Yes. But my action was prompted by you. By your character rather. To convince you in anything one must approach you through emotion. I would have tempted him enthusiastically with a picture of the past—a weak spot of all historians—and he would have yielded to my statement.
So one must choose his actions in accordance with the character of the part that opposes him. I: Always. Not only the character of the part, but also the individuality of the actor who plays the part. You remember our last talk? I: You are ready for action. Rehearsals serve the purpose.
You repeat the action a few times and you remember it. Tell me right now, what did you act in the first nine speeches of our play—the one we went through? All her heart is in it. I complained, scorned, despised. I reproached you. I: And I believe you, because you have proved it with action. She is with a company in an important play. She has asked me to come after rehearsal and take her home. She wants to talk to me about her part. I do not have long to wait. The door opens.
She comes out hurriedly. Tired, her eyes gleaming, her lovely hair dishevelled, a tender flush of excitement on her cheeks.
I cannot go with you. I have to stay here and rehearse. I: I saw all the actors leaving—Are you going to rehearse alone? I: May I come in and watch you rehearse? I was afraid to ask you. I: Why? We pass a very old doorman in his shirt sleeves, smoking a pipe. He looks at me with deep-set, dark eyes from under bushy eyebrows. His clean-shaven face is set firmly.
He is not letting anybody in. His very presence bars the entrance. He acts the part. He is not just a watchman—he is a splendid impersonation of Francisco, Bernardo, or Marcellus at his post.
He raises his hand in a noble gesture. The old man nods silently, and in his old eyes I can read permission to enter. I wonder if he is one? It is dark. One electric bulb etches a halo in the centre of the darkness. Let me act a few scenes in succession for you, then tell me what is wrong.
She goes back to the stage. I am left alone, in a space bordered by glittering dark holes of boxes, by silent rows of chairs covered with canvas, by faint outside noises. All the shadows are strange and solid. The quiet is trembling and alive. I respond to that quiet. My nerves begin to vibrate and to throw threads of sympathy and expectation toward the great promising black riddle, the empty stage.
I will be dead to myself, alive to the outward world. I will observe and participate in an imaginary world. I will wake up with my heart full of dreams. Sweet poison of an empty theatre, empty stage and a single actor rehearsing on it. The Creature appears. She has a book in her hand. She tries to ready but her mind is distracted. Obviously she is waiting for somebody. It must be somebody of importance indeed. She seems to tremble. She looks around as if asking approval and advice from an invisible friend.
She is encouraged; I can hear her faint sigh. She stiffens, draws her breath quickly. She must be afraid. She makes as if to read from the book. But it is clear to me that she does not see a single letter. Not a word is spoken.
Her body is relaxed, the hand holding the book hangs limply. Her head is turned slightly to one side, an unconscious help to the ear through which imaginary words enter her soul.
She nods her head. She speaks as if to an elder brother.
Then she looks, with fear and trembling, for an imaginary answer. The answer comes. She sounds as if she were not telling quite the truth. Expectant fear in her voice. She stands as if petrified. She looks around again as if for the support of an invisible friend. Suddenly she shrinks back as if hit by the imaginary answer.
Her book falls, her trembling fingers clutch one another. She defends herself. It is the result of co-ordination between her muscles and her emotion, the first sign of a trained actress: the stronger the emotion, the more freedom in the voice, the more relaxation in muscles.
She does not look around for help or confirmation of her actions. She throws the words into the black space without seeming to wait for an answer. Pain, tenderness, sorrow, adoration, all are in her eyes and on her trembling lips.
I understand; the enemy is the beloved one. She absorbs inaudible words of anger, shame, accusation, words which throw her to earth and remind her of somebody whom she has forgotten in her sincerity but who has power over her and who has told her exactly what to do. She is conscious of him now. She is not herself, she is an obedient daughter. Suddenly she shudders. She hears the inevitable question, the compromising question.
And again a lie is the answer, a torturing lie. Then a prayer to the Only One who can help now. The only thunder is the voice of one whom she trusted and loved. The words behind that voice are like stinging scorpions.
Not a sign of understanding in them, not a sign of tenderness—not a tone of mercy. Hate, accusation, denouncement. The end of the world. Because the world for all of us is the one whom we love.
When he is gone the world is gone. When the world is gone we are gone. And therefore we can be calm and empty and oblivious to everything and everyone who a minute ago was so important and powerful.
The Creature is alone in her whole being. I can see it in her contracted body and wide open eyes.
If there were an army of fathers behind her now, she would be alone. And only to herself would she say those heartbreaking words, the last words of a sound mind, that tries desperately to verify all that happened a second ago. It is unbelievably painful. It is like the soul parting from the body. The separated words crowd each other, hurry one over the other in a fast-growing rhythm. The voice is hollow. Madness next would be the inevitable and logical madness of the mind which has lost its world.
Another sign of a trained actor. I: Come down here.
She vaults over the footlights, runs to the chair next to mine, and sits down, tucking her legs under her. I: What do they say to you? That nobody would believe me. That it is pathological hypnotism, not acting, and that I will ruin myself and my health.
As if somebody suddenly appeared naked in the midst of a dressed-up crowd. Is that enough, or is it? I: Not only enough, but true, my dear. You are impossible. You have done faithfully everything that I taught you. So far. Now you must take the next step. You do. They are entitled to a finished product. I: It does. But go ahead. It might take you a few years, maybe more. But you would work until you had mastered the next step. And even then you would not stop.
A new difficulty would arise, and you would go after that. I: Endlessly and persistently. That is the only difference between an artist and a shoemaker. When the shoemaker has done his pair of boots, it is over, he forgets about them. It is just another step. All the steps dovetail one into the other. No art, just a handicraft. I: You mean emotion maker? Thank you for the compliment.
Would you like me now to turn into a dressmaker and dress your emotions? Because, as we both agree, myself and your superiors, your emotions are quite naked, my child. Quite distressingly so. I: But I do. Amoral, maybe, but not immoral. Please dress me. I noted carefully everything you did in building your part—your physical control, your concentration, your choice and clear outline of emotions, your power of projecting those emotions.
All that was splendid. But it lacked one thing. I: Characterization. When I put my costume on, and my make-up. I: Nothing will happen, my dear. When I am all made up and dressed, I feel like the person I am supposed to represent. I never worry about characterization, it comes by itself. I must use a strong medium to bring her down from her high horse and heresy.
I reach into my pocket for a small ancient book, and open to the first page. I: Read it. I: Striking a light Read it. Printed for R. Griffiths, at the Dunciad in St. Almost years, that ought to impress you.
Now read here. I know that she will listen now. I: Not without a slight triumph That before you put on your dress and your make-up you must master your characterization. One cannot be angry with her.
I: As if telling a long forgotten fairy tale It is like this, my child. The actor creates the whole length of a human souls life on the stage every time he creates a part. This human soul must be visible in all its aspects, physical, mental, and emotional. Besides, it must be unique. It must be the soul. The same soul the author thought of, the one the director explained to you, the one you brought to the surface from the depths of your being.
No other but that one. And the character who owns this created soul on the stage is unique and different from all the rest. It is Hamlet and nobody else. It is Ophelia and nobody else. They are human, that is true, but here the similarity ends. Yet, as there are no two oak leaves alike, there are no two human beings alike. And when an actor creates a human soul in the form of a character, he must follow the same wise rule of Nature and make that soul unique and individual.
I: You have done it in a general way. Sincere, convincing, powerful, but abstract. It could have been Lisa, Mary, Ann. But it was not Ophelia.
What shall I do now? You have conquered more difficult things, this is comparatively easy. What kind of a body had Ophelia? I: How do I know? You tell me. Who was she? I: Which means? A body with the bearing of a chosen creature, with the power and dignity of one born to represent the best of her kind.
Analyze now in detail the posture of your head, go to the galleries or look into books. Look at Van Dyck, look at Reynolds. Your arms and hands were natural and sincere, but I could have told you right away that those hands play tennis, drive a car, and, when necessary, can broil a marvelous steak.
Study the hands of Botticelli, of Leonardo, of Raphael. Then your walk— almost masculine. I: Go and see the procession of nuns in the chapel on Easter night. If you must see everything. But how do I perceive all that and incorporate it into the part? I: Very simply.
By studying and making it your own. By entering into its spirit. Study the different hands. Understand their weakness, their flower-like tenderness, their narrowness, their flexibility. You can control your muscles. Just curl your palm longwise. Do you see how much narrower it is? I: Not only different ones, but living, contemporary personalities as well, in the whole or in part. You can borrow a head from Botticelli, a posture from Van Dyck, use the arms of your sister and the wrists of Angna Enters the last not as a dancer but as a person.
The clouds driven by the wind can inspire your walk. And all of this will make a composite creature, just as a tabloid makes a composite photograph of a person or event from a dozen different photographs. I: As a rule, the last two or three days of rehearsal, right at the stage where you are now. Not before you are well settled in the part, and know its structure well. But there are exceptions. Some actors prefer to start with characterization. It is more difficult, that is all.
And the result is not so subtle, the choice of elements not so wise as it might be if you followed the inward thread of the part first. How do you blend them all together? What do you do to make them represent one real, believable person?
I: Let me answer you with questions. How did you acquire your good manners?
How did you learn to eat with a knife and fork, to sit straight, to keep your hands quiet? How did you adjust yourself last winter to short skirts and this winter to long ones? How do you know how to walk on the golf course in one way and on the ballroom floor in another? How do you learn to use your voice in your own room in one way and in a taxi-cab in another?
All those and hundreds of small changes make you what you are, so far as your physical personality is concerned. And for all those things you drew living examples from the life which surrounds you.
Acting : The First Six Lessons by Richard Boleslavsky (1987, Hardcover)
What I propose is the same thing, done professionally. That means organized study and the appropriation, through intensive practice, of all the elements which will make you, in your part, a distinct and unique physical personality.
I: Exactly! I: Characterization of the mind in the part on the stage is largely a question of the rhythm. The rhythm of thought, I should say. It does not so much concern your character as it concerns the author of that character, the author of the play.
It is his mind at work which you should characterize while acting Ophelia, or for that matter, any Shakespearean character. The same goes for any author who has a mind of his own.
I always tried to think the way I imagined the character would think.
I: That is a mistake which almost every actor commits. Except geniuses—who know better. The most powerful weapon of an author is his mind. The quality of it, the speed, alertness, depth, brilliancy. Do you remember Romeo and Juliet? And then a few pages later Juliet speaks. If you try to explain it by the early maturity of Italian women, by the wisdom of the Italian Renaissance, and so forth, you will be all tangled up in archaeology and history, and your inspiration will be gone.
I: A mind of lightning-like speed. Highly concentrated, authoritative, even in moments of doubt. Spontaneous, the first thought is always the last one.
Direct and outspoken. No words can describe it. It is like portraying an acrobat. His peasants, clerks, and girls think like scholars, his saints and kings and bishops like lunatics and monsters. Your portrayal of Shavian character would be incomplete unless the mind of that character, embodied in its ways, continued attack and defence, continued provocation for argument, right or wrong. You have explained it much better than I. They must affect you. You must like them.
Their rhythm must infect yours. Try to under stand the author.And therefore we can be calm and empty and oblivious to everything and everyone who a minute ago was so important and powerful. Work and patience never fail. Boleslavsky's chapter on Observation is more reminiscent of meditating and truly taking in all the fragments of life than preparing for a working experience.
Some actors prefer to start with characterization. I: So far, so good. Now go on with the speech from your part in the play.
Not a sign of understanding in them, not a sign of tenderness—not a tone of mercy. But it was not Ophelia. In other words, you need a spiritual concentration on emotions which do not exist, but are invented or imagined.
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