Acting: Definitions by Shakespeare, Brecht, Lee Strasberg, Mastroianni, Richard Burton

Research in Progress (July 27, 2020)

“All the world’s a stage. And all the men and women merely layers”–William Shakespeare

Bertolt Brecht

“When the actor appears, besides what he actually is doing, he will at all essential points discover, specify, imply what he is doing, so that the alternative emerges as clearly as possible.”

For Brecht, character was an ideological construction.

Identity was not coherent and unitary, but an illusion engendered  by capitalism and class system.

“You’d be surprised how much you can do, doing nothing”–Lee Strasberg (Actor’s Studio)

“An actor is like a canvas without paint: He needs the colors of somebody else”–Marcello Mastroianni (La Dolce Vita, 81/2)

“Acting is a bit like sex. It’s fun to do, but it’s embarrassing to have to discuss afterwards.¬† The central stuff is impossible to talk about, because little thoughts about your role come to you maybe when you’re having a poo”–Paul Bettany (Master and Commander)

Selfish, Self-Absorbed

The weary joke about the actor who says to a friend: “Let’s talk about you. What did you think of my last picture?”

The British actor Richard Burton, a recipient of seven Best Actor Oscar nominations, but not a single competitive win, once observed about his profession: “The odd few men and women who, once or twice in a lifetime, elevate acting into something odd and mystical and deeply disturbing.”

Burton included some of Peter O’Toole’s best work (“Lawrence of Arabia”) in the above category.

See Actors as Auteurs