Even More methods

goals_clip_image001There are of course many more methods in acting (I mean there’s even a method called ‘The Method’) and I would be keen to tell you all about them. Yes I can be magnanimous and talk about other ways of ‘learning the craft’ that is acting. Yet to do so I feel would cause you to lose focus from ME. From my method. From TITOGA. From my life’s work. You might just end up with a rag bag of ideas that don’t actually mean much at all. Dribs and drabs of acting ideas. The ‘ass end’ of one ‘way to act’ and the nose of another and no body in the middle! When I first started as an actor I became aware of how I was so concerned about my lines that I would wander in with my opening line boring a hole into my soul. ‘Hello sir would you come this way’ was the very first line I ever had. I forget what play, but this line became the be all and end all for me. I would practice it and practice it and when the cue came and I was there I was not ‘in the moment’ as it were. I was so sure I would forget my line that I blurted it out like a fool with a speed that defied all sense. It of course was not real. There was no truth. No TITOGA. In fact I was told afterwards I had said ‘Way hello would you come this sir? Needless to say I was mortified. But it was the first step to TITOGA. Now I had been reading several manuals on acting by the greats..Grotowski, Artaud, Lem, Granville Barker, Irving, Smedley, ..but they were not helping me. I had imbibed too much from everyone. I was like a boa constrictor who had eaten and was full of its prey and incapable of doing anything…all I needed to do in fact was to realize that were I in ‘truth’ I would have no problem saying the line. Alas. At the time I was a bundle of nerves and insecurities. The next night I prepared my line…’Hello sir would you come this way’ repeated over and over and was so keen not to rush or panic I said it like a zombie…and naturally…’dried’ (that is what actors call forgetting their lines) ..’Heloooo…..’ I said. And paused, panicking. You can tell all is not well as the panic is then displayed in the other actor or actors around you. The actor playing ‘sir’ invariably knows your line as it is a cue and he has learnt it. I could see him mouthing the word ‘sir’ at me. But the world had turned to jelly and a small goblin like creature was on my shoulder cackling ‘Ha! You fool. You’ve forgotten it! You’re a useless pile of poo! Ha ha ha ha!’ And at that time I was. In these instances time seems to elongate. You believe that of course you have been standing there for hours and a large hole has appeared in front of you that you would like to dive into. That time has stopped. That the audience are all going ‘oh my goodness what a useless idiot he’s been standing there looking like a goldfish out of water mouthing nothing for the last half hour’. In fact it is seconds. But in those seconds you want to die. You would love an enormous block of concrete to crush you. A hook to come and snatch you out of the way of the cast, of the humiliation. Or even for an earthquake to take place..yes a natural disaster that will cause the theatre to be demolished. In fact the charming actor I was with helped me out. Actors are like that. They are group players. He could sense my appalling humiliation and was willing to help me out..’Hello there. Would you like me to come with you? Well yes I shall!’ he said. And the situation was saved, the moment relieved, the ‘dry’ dealt with. The audience were none the wiser of course (other than my aunt who was in, who said ‘you dealt with the dry incompetently but never mind. The other actor helped you out’. Bless her. She married an actor called ‘James Happy’ who perversely was one of the most miserable men I have ever met. But I digress. The third performance (there were only three) I was naturally a total bag of shivering heebie jeebies. If only I’d known then what I know now. I would have had no difficulty. But then again I had taken so much advice from all around me, including ‘suck a sweet’ from the wardrobe mistress Celia Crabb who on reflection was an idiot. Huge breasts and a slightly musty smell from handling all those clothes as most wardrobe people have. The actor opposite me who had helped me out the night before, embraced me before the show and whispered ‘I hope you’re not going to cock up like last night? Why not do what I do and think of coming down stairs and boiling an egg whilst I’m speaking? It really relaxes me.’ Foolishly I followed his inappropriate advice…oh if only I’d had TITOGA to fall back on…and when the cue was heard ‘I shall never marry you. Never’ and I opened the door I said ‘A nice runny egg and soldiers would do the trick nicely’, which got a huge laugh from the four people in the audience. So you get my drift. I needed ONE philosophy. Not a mish mash or jumble bumble.
Yet. I am magnanimous. Here are some ‘methods’. Look them up on the internet. Enjoy. And come back to me.

The Met-hod method

Stanislav Lem built these steps to a character. They are:
Who am I? Where am I? 
When Is It? What do I want? Why do I want It? Where do I want it? When do I want it? With whom do I want it? How will I get It? When do I get it? What happens if I don’t get it? What do I need to do to get it? When I get it will it be any good?
Personally I think this met-hod asks too many questions and leads to appaling slowness of delivery as the actor is in a state of constant questioning.

The Miser method Inspired by his name, Dick Miser came up with this method to keep everything as little or ‘miserly’ as possible.

You have to ‘deny’ in the Miser method. If anyone asks you something you have to think internally whether it’s worth getting interested enough to reply. Works very well in ‘can’t be bothered’ situations. Like disaffected youth or introspective political prisoner scenarios. Leads to mumbling though.

Meyehold: Biomechanics

“Observe a skilled worker in action. If we do we notice the following in his movements.
1. An absence of superfluous, unproductive movements.
2. Rhythm.
3. The correct positioning of the body’s centre of gravity.
4. Stability.”
So says Mike Meyerhold who in spite of creating great comic roles like Shrek and Austin Powers still has time to come up with a theory of acting. Amazing.
But as you can see from the quotation it’s tricky to get your head round what a worker’s body position has to do with acting. Unless you’re playing a worker of course. Then have a look at it.
However this way of acting is great for robot acting. I mean he believes that the actor displays no emotion at all and just uses a single action or gesture if he or she wants to express something. You’d be an actor and an acrobat and actually machine like. I suppose what you do is then apply this to a character and hope it works. Doesn’t work for me at all. Amazing that Mike comes up with all his silly characters using this as his basis for is acting style. But hey it works for him.

Gordon Craig

The Uber marionette.
Craig thought all actors should be puppets and his view is shared by most directors. Personally I think dressing up as a puppet is ridiculous but there you go.

The Bard himself William Shakeshaft

Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, by use all gently, for in the very torrent, tempest, and (as I may say) whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb shows and noise. I would have such a fellow whipped for o’erdoing Termagant. It out-herods Herod. Pray you avoid it. Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor. Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance, that you o’erstep not the modesty of nature. For anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure. Now this overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskillful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure of the which one must in your allowance o’erweigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be players that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that highly (not to speak profanely), that neither having th’ accent of Christians, nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of Nature’s journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably. Reform it altogether! And let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for them, for there be of them that will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too, though in the mean time some necessary question of the play be then to be considered. That’s villainous and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. Go make you ready.

This is brilliant. Nature and truth. All you need to know is here. And TITOGA of course.

Some Books About Acting,

Peter Barkworth,
I like this. He was a good actor was Peter. He was in lots of stuff like Victor in Arthur Watkyn’s light comedy The Geese Are Getting Fat….and God in the Mystery Plays and that bloke in Telford’s Change’ on the telly … and I’d have liked to have called him ‘friend’. However I never met him. He was very real. The one piece of advice I don’t like is when he suggests that when making a phone call don’t actually use real numbers but go to the top of the dial (this is when phones were dial phones. Which are used in period performances. So it’s worth paying attention to this) as real numbers take too long. When we’re doing TITOGA we dial a ‘real’ number as that is real

Anything by Artaud
Great mad Frenchman who lived on the edge and acted a lot on drugs which is an option of course. Will work well if the acting is a druggie or drugged person. But when you’re drugged you tend to forget your lines and where you are and what you’re doing so it’s slightly scary for all concerned. I worked at Westcliff Theatre with a couple of actors in the Merchant of Venice who were pissed most of the time and made it a nightmare for the rest of us. The audience think it’s us who’ve got it wrong. You two know who you are. Messrs Patrarvic and Key! I bite my thumbs at you! Both of them!

A wonderful proponent of nude work, especially in a loin cloth so when you need to go nude seek him out. But he renounced everything later so perhaps even he knew his methods were extreme. Most of the actors who ever get involved in this catch cold as theatres are very draughty. If asked to do it outside, refuse.

More books to follow.