An actor is a person portraying a character in a dramatic or comic production; he or she performs in film, television, theatre, radio, commercials or music videos. Actor, (hypokrites), literally means “one who interprets”;an actor, then, is one who interprets a dramatic character.Method acting is an approach in which the actor identifies with the portrayed character by recalling emotions or reactions from his or her own life. Presentational acting refers to a relationship between actor and audience, whether by direct address or indirectly by specific use of language, looks, gestures or other signs indicating that the character or actor is aware of the audience’s presence. In representational acting, “actors want to make us ‘believe’ they are the character; they pretend.”
Formerly, in some societies, only men could become actors, and women’s roles were generally played by men or boys. In modern times, women occasionally played the roles of prepubescent boys.
After 1660 in England, when women first started to appear on stage, the terms actor or actress were initially used interchangeably for female performers, but later, influenced by the French actrice, actress became the commonly used term for women in theatre and film. The etymology is a simple derivation from actor with ess added. Within the profession, the re-adoption of the neutral term dates to the 1950–1960s, the post-war period when the contributions of women to cultural life in general were being reviewed. Actress remains the common term used in major acting awards given to female recipients.
With regards to the cinema of the United States, the gender-neutral term “player” was common in film in the early days of the Motion Picture Production Code, but it is now generally deemed archaic. However, “player” remains in use in the theatre, often incorporated into the name of a theatre group or company, such as the American Players, the East West Players and so on. Also, actors in improvisational theatre may be referred to as “players”.
History of acting
The first recorded case of a performing actor occurred in 534 BC (though the changes in calendar over the years make it hard to determine exactly) when the Greek performer Thespis stepped on to the stage at the Theatre Dionysus to become the first known person to speak words as a character in a play or story. Prior to Thespis’ act, stories were only expressed in song, dance, and in third person narrative. In honor of Thespis, actors are commonly called Thespians. To this day, theatrical legend maintains Thespis is a mischievous spirit; disasters in the theatre are sometimes blamed on his ghostly intervention.
Traditionally, actors were not of high status; therefore, in the Early Middle Ages traveling acting troupes were often viewed with distrust. In many parts of Europe, traditional beliefs of the region and time period meant actors could not receive a Christian burial, which left an actor forever condemned. In the 19th and 20th centuries, this negative perception was largely reversed as acting became an honored, popular profession and art.
Types of actors
Actors working in theatre, film, television and radio have to learn specific skills. Techniques that work well in one type of acting may not work well in another type of acting.
Acting in theatre
To act on stage, actors need to learn the stage directions that appear in the script, such as “Stage Left” and “Stage Right”. These directions are based on the actor’s point of view as he or she stands on the stage facing the audience. Actors also have to learn the meaning of the stage directions “Upstage” (away from the audience) and “Downstage” (towards the audience)
Theatre actors need to learn blocking, which is “…where and how an actor moves on the stage during a play.” Most scripts specify some blocking. The Director will also give instructions on blocking, such as crossing the stage or picking up and using a prop.
Theater actors need to learn stage combat, which is simulated fighting on stage. Actors may have to simulate “hand-to-hand [fighting] or with sword[-fighting].” Actors are coached by fight directors, who help them to learn the choreographed sequence of fight actions.
Acting in film
D. W. Griffith first developed of acting that would “suit the cinema rather than the theater.” He realized that theatrical acting did not look good on film. Griffith required his actors and actresses to go through weeks of film acting training.
Film actors have to learn to get used to and be comfortable with a camera being in front of them. Film actors need to learn to find and stay on their “mark.” This is a position on the floor marked with tape. This position is where the lights and camera focus are optimized. Film actors also need to learn how to prepare well and perform well on screen tests. Screen tests are a filmed audition of part of the script.
“Unlike the theater actor, who gets to develop a character during…a two- or three-hour performance, the film actor lacks continuity, forcing him or her to come to all the scenes (often shot in reverse order in which they’ll ultimately appear) with a character already fully developed.”
“Since film captures even the smallest gesture and magnifies it…, cinema demands a less flamboyant and stylized bodily performance from the actor than does the theater.” “The performance of emotion is the most difficult aspect of film acting to master: …the film actor must rely on subtle facial ticks, quivers, and tiny lifts of the eyebrow to create a believable character.” Some theatre stars “…have made the theater-to-cinema transition quite successfully ([Laurence] Olivier, Glenn Close, and Julie Andrews, for instance), others have not…”
Acting in television
“On a television set, there are typically several cameras angled at the set. Actors who are new to on-screen acting can get confused about which camera to look into.” TV actors need to learn to use lav mics (Lavaliere microphones).TV actors need to understand the concept of “frame.” “The term frame refers to the area that the camera’s lens is capturing.”
Acting in radio
Radio drama is a dramatized, purely acoustic performance, broadcast on radio or published on audio media, such as tape or CD. With no visual component, radio drama depends on dialogue, music and sound effects to help the listener imagine the characters and story: “It is auditory in the physical dimension but equally powerful as a visual force in the psychological dimension.”
Radio drama achieved widespread popularity within a decade of its initial development in the 1920s. By the 1940s, it was a leading international popular entertainment. With the advent of television in the 1950s, however, radio drama lost some of its popularity, and in some countries has never regained large audiences. However, recordings of OTR (old-time radio) survive today in the audio archives of collectors and museums, as well as several online sites such as Internet Archive.
As of 2011, radio drama has a minimal presence on terrestrial radio in the United States. Much of American radio drama is restricted to rebroadcasts or podcasts of programs from previous decades. However, other nations still have thriving traditions of radio drama. In the United Kingdom, for example, the BBC produces and broadcasts hundreds of new radio plays each year on Radio 3, Radio 4, and Radio 4 Extra. Podcasting has also offered the means of creating new radio dramas, in addition to the distribution of vintage programs.
The terms “audio drama” or “audio theatre” are sometimes used synonymously with “radio drama” with one possible distinction: audio drama or audio theatre may not necessarily be intended specifically for broadcast on radio. Audio drama, whether newly produced or OTR classics, can be found on CDs, cassette tapes, podcasts, webcasts and conventional broadcast radio.
Thanks to advances in digital recording and Internet distribution, radio drama is experiencing a revival.
Content taken from Wikipedia.com