Should we suffer for our ART

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    Was interested to see Daniel day- Lewis on parky last night. For anyone who didn't see he was trying to explain his mental process during a job and developing a character within which he removes himself so that he can actually live as the character and experience everything that character would. For example when filming my left foot he insisted in being carried on and off set from his wheelchair. I know every actor is different to approaching a character but for me this approach would be mental torture. (i guess for him too ----after walking off stage during Hamlet he hasn't returned to the theatre since and probably never will) I would be interested to hear other opinions on this and is the whole idea of "ACTING" becoming less of a craft and more of a test of mental endurance. So should we have to suffer to reap the rewards and the Awards?

    • 29th Mar 2006
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  • Kate Eden

    Actor

    Was a very good interview.. He is fantastic - albeit, troubled.. Very deep and brilliantly articulated.

    And of course... Why not?

    That's the pull?

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    My understanding is that Stanislavski never actually said you should 'become' the character physically and emotionally, only that you should understand the role. It is impossible to actually become a person other than yourself. You can only attempt to understand what the character is feeling.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    For a minute lets forget quoting out of books and talk personally about what drives us. Acting is such a personal thing and the approach is so different in every single one of us. It is easy to talk about Anthony Sher or Stanislavski but what about you guys in casting call pro........How do you approach a character and if you don't seperate yr selves completely have there been times when you think you might of pushed yr self to far to create a particular role.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    then again we all suffer in many ways

    we suffer when we are stuck in dead end jobs not doing what we prefer

    we sufer when we go for an audition and not get the part

    we suffer when we see the part in which we know that we can give our best but some one else gets the part

    we suffer and suffer in the name of our art and our lives

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Garry,

    I think that acting is about having fun, after all it's called a 'play' not a 'work'. I believe you should be enjoying what you do on stage even if you're playing a character in deep emotional turmoil. Personally, I achieve this by using my imagination to create a scenario that helps me to understand what the character is going through. This way I can get to the place I need to be emotionally, yet I never need to damage my own sanity doing it.

    Natalie

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Angela,

    I agree that work on the exterior/physical part of yourself helps to create an illusion of character for the audience. The examples you gave show that the actresses put lots of work into creating their character's external appearances.

    What I meant in my earlier post was that I take issue with the phrase 'become the character' because essentially you will always be you. You can never actually become another person. You can do everything in your power to create the illusion physically, but you can never get into the mind of another person. The closest, I believe, you can come is to understand what they are thinking and feeling.

    Natalie

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Suffer for it if that's what you enjoy, if you don't enjoy suffering, don't do it. Personally, I'd love to have the time and resources to go as far with character development as Day-Lewis supposedly does. Part of the attraction of acting for me is to experience things that I wouldn't normally get chance to and if the experience isn't actually real, I'd like to think my world of make believe can make it as real as possible. So whilst I don't want to actually murder anyone in order to play Macbeth, I would like to understand and portray those feeling/emotions/triggers/motives so I can feel what it might be like to be a murderer and then play it convincingly. I don't mind going a little bit mad too, because I know that once I let a character go I will get back to myself (even if it takes a week or so). It's important for me to do this at this point in my career because I'm building up that catalogue of experiences that I will be able to use for the rest of me career.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    For me ....there is no one thing I would do as a rule to create and play. I think if the text is good and powerful enough , then that alone can be used as a spring bored to create a reality without too many other decisions involved. But when it comes to playing someone disabled or mentally ill then it becomes more complicated......I haven't yet had that challenge but I can imagine how hard it must be first day of rehearsals to attempt to "play" without offending.

    I realise that the whole conversation now is getting a bit cloudy , but I for one am interersted in this craft.......i think we spend so much time in here talking about agents and photos and castings ......i'd just like to hear from a few people talking honestly about the passion they have and what drives them in a reharsal to achieve the desired goals.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Christopher Hatherall

    Actor

    Hi Garry, and everyone else,

    For me it is all about honesty, and your commitment to being honest, instinctive. Suffering has to be part of it because its part of life. I did a short film last summer that required me to be an emotionally on edge throughout, before being tipped over. Through a combination of thinking about the backstory and making it mirror the affective events and moments in my life, while allowing myself to open from the guts and enfuse all my feelings about my personal events, I was able to empathise with the character and mirror him. I never became the character in the factual sense of the word, but I became the truth of him, by allowing the truth of me to come out. And yes, I suppose I suffered. Moments in my life that had almost ripped my heart out became part of this guy and reliving the feelings can be tough but then that is why this job is so f*cking great. For the eventual weekend of the shoot I was as alert and sensitive as a tuning fork, tingling with energy, but controlled and responsive; I had trouble sleeping (but then didn't really want to); and I felt alive. They were some of the best masochistic moments of my life. At the end of the day it was still a job and I had to do my job properly, but it just so happened to allow me to find that tingling freedom that makes acting so interesting. How powerful is it when we see an actor on stage or on screen in a moment where we can just feel that there is no pretending there, that they have opened themselves to that moment and revealed their inner most feelings. That is brave acting - mesmerising acting. Sadly, perhaps, not enough roles allow for it.

    (My feelings on it all...for the moment at least)

    all the best to all

    Gooseman

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Christopher Hatherall

    Actor

    Hi Garry, and everyone else,

    For me it is all about honesty, and your commitment to being honest, instinctive. Suffering has to be part of it because its part of life. I did a short film last summer that required me to be an emotionally on edge throughout, before being tipped over. Through a combination of thinking about the backstory and making it mirror the affective events and moments in my life, while allowing myself to open from the guts and enfuse all my feelings about my personal events, I was able to empathise with the character and mirror him. I never became the character in the factual sense of the word, but I became the truth of him, by allowing the truth of me to come out. And yes, I suppose I suffered. Moments in my life that had almost ripped my heart out became part of this guy and reliving the feelings can be tough but then that is why this job is so great. For the eventual weekend of the shoot I was as alert and sensitive as a tuning fork, tingling with energy, but controlled and responsive; I had trouble sleeping (but then didn't really want to); and I felt alive. They were some of the best masochistic moments of my life. At the end of the day it was still a job and I had to do my job properly, but it just so happened to allow me to find that tingling freedom that makes acting so interesting. How powerful is it when we see an actor on stage or on screen in a moment where we can just feel that there is no pretending there, that they have opened themselves to that moment and revealed their inner most feelings. That is brave acting - mesmerising acting. Sadly, perhaps, not enough roles allow for it.

    (My feelings on it all...for the moment at least)

    all the best to all

    Gooseman

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Thank you Goose..........reading that I could tell you had opened up there writing it.......Nice to see

    Take it Easy.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    I think Laurence Olivier had a point, why don't we just *act*. It's a putting on, an imagining. Playing an emotion as simply as possible is often better than over complicating it. Just being devil's advocate here, why should we become martyrs to the cause when it is one of the most ridiculously silly and wonderful professions around?

    Saying that, I often get involved in a character without meaning to. It's as if they're a real person that exists, even though they are fictional, and I have to do justice to them. Sometimes I wish I felt that it was just "silly" and not get worked up about it. Sadly not.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    I totally agree Garry. Often this industry, and therefore this forum, gets so bogged down with the logistics of being an actor that we fail to look at the craft of acting.

    I also agree that a good script can give you the answers instantly, but sometimes more work is required. As Angela said, every actor will have his/her way of creating a role. I think I've already explained my approach in my earlier posts. I do not wish to use painful events from my past in my work, so I create from my imagination. This allows me to go anywhere I want because there are no boundries. Once I have done all the work on my role, I make sure that when I enter a scene I put my full attention on the other actor/s and respond truthfully and instinctively to their behaviour.

    Natalie

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Christopher Hatherall

    Actor

    Hey Garry,

    Thanks for the appreciation buddy. Its encouraging to know that even if people don't agree with what I said they at least recognise and respect that it is as honest as a feathered man can be. (Hiding behind a mask or a pseudonym or indeed a character offers the space to open up I suppose)

    take care bud

    Gooseman

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Alexander Helm

    Actor

    Personally I approach acting on an artistic level and try to formulate my own ideas. Over the years I have listened to and read about many actors philosophies to help me do this. I think a large part is down to instinct and what you feel is suitable to each part that you are given. This comes with several years experience playing many varied roles experimenting with various techniques.

    The danger of suffering for your art is that it could prove destructive to the rest of your life. I think it is the fine balance some actors can tread when approaching a part. Daniel Day Lewis's seems to have suffered the fallout of his approach and only undertakes roles periodically. I think though his approach was possibly necessary for parts like My Left Foot. However, he has reaped the rewards for his efforts and has contributed some of the finest acting on screen.

    I have found that if you identify and empathise with the pain of a character the suffering you convey can be very cathartic and ultimately the performances can be uplifting.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    I totally agree Alex. It is a dangerous risk to suffer for your art. But also, why? If you can do it without suffering, then why hurt yourself? Obviously everyone will have a different opinion on this, depending on how you work and each actor should work in a different way from the next, otherwise we'd be boring.

    I think that you can put a lot of work into creating your role without damaging your mental health to do it. Look at Philip Seymour Hoffman, who spent 6 months working on his role as Capote. He didn't live as Capote for 6 months, but instead looked at each scene and attempted to understand how the character felt. His ground work was so good that when it came to shooting the movie, he was done so quickly and then could move on easily.

    I really wouldn't want to jeopardise my life, family, relationship or sanity for any role.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Mark Joseph

    Actor

    You do what YOU need to do, nothing more.

    How many times are we gonna have these kind of debates on here? There is NO right or wrong, suffering for your art is neither correct or incorrect. It is what you prefer to do in your progress as an actor.

    Stanislavski would say suffer, Mamet would say not. Who's right?

    Personally I tend to be more on Mamet's side. There is a limit to the worth of becoming the character in life outside the screen/stage. It's impact on your peformance is not as great as you may think. When it comes down to it, the number one priority is the reaction of an audience member. The performance is for them. It is for you in some ways, but not totally, otherwise you are neglecting the meaning of the craft.

    You should be in control of the art you portray. You can give the impression that you're out of control, but only the impression. Suffering for your art may have it's place, and I think it probably does, but only in very certain areas. Otherwise, the art is owning you. (and no, that ISN'T a good thing)

    Mark.

    P.S. Anthony Sher based his Richard III on a spider, not being disabled.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Alexander Helm

    Actor

    I know this subject matter has been dealt with before but I

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Alexander Helm

    Actor

    This thread has produced a healthy discussion about acting techniques than previous threads. It is encouraging to know most people have an open view on this matter.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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