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THE ACTOR. Norbert Leo Butz.

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norbert leo butz
Norbert Leo Butz

Broadway: Dead Accounts, Catch Me If You Can (2011 Tony Award, Drama Desk winner: Best Actor in a Musical; Astaire Award winner, Outer Critics nomination), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Tony Award, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, Astaire Awards, Drama League Award winner: Best Actor in a Musical), Enron, Speed-the-Plow, Is He Dead?, Wicked (original cast, Fiyero), Thou Shalt Not (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics nominations), Rent (original cast, Broadway debut). Off-Broadway: How I Learned To Drive, Fifty Words, Buicks (Drama Desk nomination), The Last Five Years (Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel nominations, Drama League Award), Juno and the Paycock (Roundabout), Saved (TFANA). National Tour: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Cabaret. Alabama Shakespeare Festival (four seasons), Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Film: Better Living Through Chemistry (2013), The English Teacher (2013), Greetings from Tim Buckley (2013), Disconnect (2013), Higher Ground, Fair Game, Dan in Real Life. Television: Series: “The Deep End” (ABC); Pilots: “County” (NBC), “The Miraculous Year” (HBO) BFA, Webster University; MFA, Alabama Shakespeare Theatre.

what is acting
What is acting?

It is the oldest of the theatrical arts. THESPIS, the first actor, was the author of the plays in which he appeared.

From his name comes the word THESPIAN, another word for actor.

acting is a public art
Acting is a public art

The average theatregoer can name many actors...

there are two notions of acting according to robert cohen
There are two notions of acting according to Robert Cohen…

The actor “presents” to the audience in a form that we call “presentational.” It is also called “external” or “technical” acting.

The second notion comes from somewhere “inside” the actor. It is often referred to as “internal.”

presentational actors
Presentational actors

Such classically-trained British actors as Olivier, Guinness, Stewart and Gielgud.

internal acting

The actor works honestly and effectively to “live the life of the character.” To feel the emotions.

It can be called “representational.”

Actors of this school are often “method actors” named for a “system” devised by Konstantin Stanislavski

konstantin stanislavski 1863 1938
Konstantin Stanislavski (1863-1938)

UNCLE VANYA at Moscow Art Theatre


stanislavski disavowed a system of acting
STANISLAVSKI disavowed a “System” of acting…

"For... Stanislavsky said: "There is no system. There is only nature. My lifelong concern has been how to get ever closer to the so-called system, that is, to get ever closer to the nature of creativity."

According to an article in theNY Times December 2, 2001

lee strasberg 1901 1982
Lee Strasberg (1901-1982)

In the United States, the “method” was made popular by the actor Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York.

internal vs external
Internal vs. external

In the 18th century, Denis Diderot discussed the differences in his essay “The Paradox of Acting”

At the Moscow Art Theatre, Stanislavski taught that motivation gives meaning to action. And, as such, plays have subtexts the actor needs to understand.

stanislavski s legacy
Stanislavski’s legacy

Almost all American teachers of acting pay homage to Stanislavski and his “theories” of acting...

Famous American actors trained in the method includeMarlonBrando andMarilynMonroe.


Greatness in acting, like greatness in almost any endeavor, demands a superb set of skills

In order to play HAMLET, for example, the actor himself needs to embody the genius of the character.

To achieve this virtuosity, the actor must possess two features

  • An expressive voice
  • A supple body
expressive voices
Expressive voices

James Earl Jones

Glenn Close

supple bodies
Supple bodies

Bill Irwin

Meryl Streep


Beyond conviction and virtuosity, great actors possess “presence” or “magnetism” or “charisma”

becoming an actor

Actor training takes place in colleges, universities, conservatories and private & commercial schools

the actor s instrument
The actor’s instrument

Training is both physical and psychological

All training requires practice, not simple book learning

voice and speech
  • VOICE: breathing, phonation, resonance
  • SPEECH: articulation, pronunciation, phrasing
  • Dance, mime, fencing, acrobatics
  • Relaxation, control, economy
  • Strength and endurance

Imagination, and willingness and ability to use it in the service of art, are major components of the actor’s psychological instrument

Make the unreal real (flats and platforms become streets or mountains)

Play the imagined world of the play (Really fall in love with your acting mate)

Characterize the role with uniqueness and life (liberate the actor’s imagination)

actors need d iscipline
Actors need discipline
  • Follow the working conditions
  • Collaborate with fellow artists
  • Be on time to calls
  • Stay well and healthy
  • Train your instrument in exercise or class
  • Memorize parts before they are due
  • Work vigorously to develop craft
the actor s approach

Describe the objective, task, goal, victory or intention. Each character has a primary goal and several minor goals in the play.

Secondly, the actor develops TACTICS necessary to achieve the GOALS

Finally, the actor must understand the style of given circumstances of the play and apply it to the role

given circumstances
Given circumstances

The goal of acting is to express your character’s intentions clearly and honestly within the given circumstances of the scene. These include…

  • Relationship of characters
  • Age of characters
  • Educational level of characters
  • Time. When?
  • Place. Where are you?
  • Socio-economic-political background, etc.
how do given circumstances affect acting
How do given circumstances affect acting?







Given circumstances

A: HiB: HelloA: What did you do last night?B: Huh?A: What did you do last night?B: Oh, nothing.A: Nothing?B: That’s what I said, nothing.A: Well…B: Well what?A: Never mind.B: Fine, see ya later…

shift from rehearsal to performance
Shift from rehearsal to performance

Now, the actor is aware of his audience...

The audience affects the actor’s timing, delivery and energy


Patrick Steward, Simon Callow and Ian McKellan

stage vs film
Stage vs. film

Stage actors must re-create their performance over and over. Each actor develops ways to adapt to the different demands of various media

Dame Judi Dench in film and onstage.

acting is an art
Acting is an art...

Actors are privileged people, they get to live the lives of saints, sinners, lovers, rulers, the great and the meek

Actors must know more than acting, they must represent the human and therefore must understand humankind

The proper study of acting is life: common sense, observation, perception, tolerance and understanding

Actors need to possess training, business acumen and a realistic vision

Very few are capable of a professional career in acting. Those that do possess great talent, skill, persistence, fortitude and luck!