Professional Acting Skills

IN PRAISE OF TOM HARDY

In the recent BBC series Taboo, Tom Hardy delivers a masterclass of screen acting as the protagonist James Delaney. 

Alongside him many excellent actors are working skilfully with a deep understanding of the medium, Jason Watkins, Oona Chaplin and Tom Hollander among them, but it is Hardy who dominates the series and several elements show his total mastery of his craft.

Firstly he utterly commands the screen whenever he appears.  It’s easy to put this down to the blessing of charisma but its cornerstone is deep concentration.  Additionally his stillness and use of silence draw you into his world.  His movements are few and highly controlled and the viewer’s eye never has to search for him.  Whenever an actor moves, or the camera moves, the viewer's eye unconsciously has to readjust to find the point of interest –  usually the character's eyes as we seek to understand what he or she is thinking but not saying.  For this …

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The Similarities Between Acting on Stage and Acting on Camera

Film and stage are quite similar in that they both are looking for truthful behavior within imaginary circumstances, or to quote Stanislavski, "Actors must live privately in public" regardless of medium.

Unfortunately there is a lot of misunderstanding of both delivery mechanisms that leads to the belief that the two are very dissimilar.The difference lies in the technical demand of each and in the way in which audiences view the material. I am just adding here to many of the comments that have gone before.

On stage, the actor must draw focus; on camera the camera focuses on whatever the director wants to see.

On stage, the actor has the ability to repeat a performance night after night which usually deepens their per and therefore the emotional wallop of the play. On camera, the actor repeats a scene or a sequence over and over, which should, if the actor and the director are in sync, produce different and or better work.

On stage, the actor does a scene and goes off stage for only a …

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T2: TRAINSPOTTING

T2: TRAINSPOTTING

While the four leads give a strong ensemble performance, there are also some valuable lessons in this film about the intangible depth that preparation can bring to a screen role.

Without the structure offered by theatre rehearsal, and the fillip provided by the approval of the director and other actors, it can be hard for screen actors to do an equivalent amount of preparation.  (In fact I believe that even greater preparation is needed because of the intense scrutiny of the camera.)  And, let’s be honest, there’s a leap of faith required that the time and emotional energy spent, alone, developing a character’s backstory will pay off.

The performances of Ewen Bremner and Jonny Lee Miller stand out in ways that suggest extensive emotional preparation.  (I’ll try to write about them without spoiling the plot)  I worked with Ewen on the very first piece of film I directed, when he was in his …

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I, DANIEL BLAKE

I have a confession to make: despite the plaudits and accolades it has received, I don't think ‘I Daniel Blake’ is a very good film.

 I'm making a distinction here between its political significance and the quality of filmmaking.  As a piece of social commentary it is outstanding: angry, deeply compassionate, full of integrity and typical of the committed work of a man who has, for 50 years, been shining a light on the iniquities of our increasingly divided society.

 But, as filmmaking, it is not Loach's best.  And perhaps it's worth exploring a few of the things that let it down, particularly in terms of the strengths and flaws of its acting.

 Aside from a rather clumsy and predictable storyline, there are some simplistic and obvious characterizations, such as the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ benefits assessors.  A number of the supporting cast are weak.  I know Ken Loach likes to use nonprofessional actors and …

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Re-Writing Grotowski

As I start writing this blog, my predominant emotion is curiosity.  I'm wondering how you feel as you begin reading it.  Specifically, I'm curious how you feel about Grotowski.  He has always been a divisive figure in the world of theatre and performance, from his first days in the international spotlight in the early 1960's.  He seems to invoke either adulation, or outright rejection.  Richard Shechner famously called him "shape-shifter, shaman, trickster, artist, adept, director, leader".  If you would like to satisfy my curiosity, and tell me how you feel about Grotowski, I have outlined ways of doing that further on.

At the beginning of the build-up of his international reputation, Grotowski was still a youthful director, just 30 years old.  He was bursting with ideas that challenged mainstream theatre and mainstream culture, and he was desperately trying to keep afloat a small experimental theatre company, in a small parochial …

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