Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why A Craft Of Acting?

Hi.  My name is Brandon.  I'm the Artistic Director of The Seeing Place Theater, which is an independent theater in its third season in New York City.  I came up with the idea of writing a blog because as we've been creating theater, more and more people are asking us what it means to be an ensemble-based theatre and what differentiates us from every other young company in New York.

In a nutshell, we're an actor's theater with a focus on an organic process.  In this blog, I'll be writing from my viewpoint (as Actor, Director, and Producer), which is greatly influenced by the teachings of Lee Strasberg - as taught to me by David Gideon over the last five years and Fran Gercke for two years before that.  I also co-ran Poor Players Theatre Company, a Shakespeare theater in San Diego, for five years before moving to New York.  As an actor, I've performed with The Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, New Village Arts Theater, North Coast Repertory Theater, Sierra Repertory Theater, and Barnstormers Theater.  There are plenty of others, but I'd imagine that by this point, you'll give me your vote of confidence on credibility.  After all, it's not a blog about me.

"Our Craft. Our Process. Our Blog."  Some people might think it a bit pretentious. But if you can't have some pretense about what you love and have spent your lifetime learning, then what can you have?

When it comes down to it, acting is based around pretense.  People tend to over-complicate it and forget that it's literally just make-believe.  I think that's a large degree of the reason why there seems to be such a skepticism about a craft of acting.  Many actors feel it's too technical.  They seem to want a magic button to good acting.  In the process, they tend to oversimplify, relying on talent, alone, to guide them.  Over the last hundred and some-odd years since Stanislavski began his work, we've learned all sorts of things from behaviorists that enable us to do much more than just cross our fingers and hope for the best.  I had a friend that used to pray to the Theatre Gods for inspiration before every show.  Thankfully, several people have endeavored to create a means by which we can excite our imaginations.  That's really all a craft is.  It's not a set of rules.  It's an understanding of ourselves.  That's the nutshell.  You'll have to read for more.

It is my intention in this blog to create a forum online, through which people can discuss the craft of acting. This is not a place for "the business". There are many blogs out there for that.  Mostly, I'd like to dispel some of the myths around "The Method" and create an open forum to understand how all of these techniques may not be so incredibly different after all. Beyond that, we will be chronicling The Seeing Place Theater's journey toward creating a "pure ensemble", as initially termed by The Group Theatre. We're using many of the same ideas and non-traditional approaches to our rehearsals in order to bring real expression back to New York audiences. It's not that we never see it, but whole companies rarely attempt it. It's really quite a fascinating thing to do. 

Whether good or bad, I have always possessed a kind of authority. I learn something and immediately want to teach it to my friends. I have always tried things I don't think I can do. I have always thrown myself head-first into things without any worry about whether I am prepared enough. And I think that's a large amount of the reason why I have worked so extensively in the theatre. It's certainly why I have run two theater companies. I've had to adopt a psychology that says: This is everything I have right now. It's not perfect. I can't worry about that. I'll have more later.

I am not the most knowledgeable person I know. I'm sure that there are a thousand people or more with a better understanding of acting and all of the elements that surround it. And yet, most all of those people don't have a blog. Many of them don't audition or create their own work. Many are classroom actors, forever waiting to arrive or for the gods to extend them a helping hand with a golden opportunity.  But this blog is an equal opportunity for us to learn from you.  This is a conversation about acting.  I'm not here, giving lectures.

If you have any questions you'd like answered, please post a comment below, and I'll be sure to respond.

1 comment:

  1. Wow- this is really illuminating. I look forward to reading your other posts, Brandon!


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