This blog is for all actors, directors, wanna be actors and directors and anyone who is interested in improving their performances. I have been noticing some classic acting mistakes out there and would like to share so helpful tips to improve the oveall level of "the craft" in our fair city. I will choose a topic area every now and then and offer up the advice that my dear acting teacher at Boston University, Jack Axelrod, gave to his students. Todays topic as you may have guessed has to do with the use of yelling on stage. Good ol' Jack used to wisely tell use young actors and actresses (I believe in gender distinction) that real people do not always yell when they are angry, agitated or upset. In fact many people will not raise their voice in a public situation at all. Jack used to say that it is more fun to discover the richness of a character and share it with the audience than to make knee jerk assumptions that becuase they are angry or excited they should yell. So why is it on stage actors (now I will use this genetically) almost always choose to yell as a character? I have a theory on that and you may take it or leave it and that is fine- it is simply my opinion and only one explanation: 1. bad acting habit that has been allowed to flourish or 2. If you are in theater chances are that you grew up in a disfunctional family- this is nothing to be ashamed of as many the most interesting artists throughout history grew up in dysfunctinal families and one learns excellent coping and acting skills in this environment, but I digress- in dysfunctional families often times there is a lot of yelling and high volume conversation. We use our experience of the dysfunctional family in our thoughts about how to portray a character sometimes rather than really exploring that character and how they might react to something. I am not saying that there should be no yelling on stage ever. That is rediculous. Some people do yell - just not as many as portrayed as characters on Richmond area stages.
Jack used to say also that if a scene starts at the yelling phase it has nowhere to go. Imagine the energy of a scene has a scale from one to ten. If you begin at nine or ten you have nowhere to go. I could give you ample examples of this classic mistake but I will not embarrass anyone- just be mindful of this and think about it when rehersing and developing your work.
One other thing you all should know about the yelling on stage thing- audiences tune out the words if there is too much yelling therefore lots of good script may be lost due to too much volume. Jackie Kennedy Onasis knew that the best way to get someone to listen to you is to speak in a low voice. You might want to use this trick with your characters sometimes.
OK- now that that is off my chest.... Today is Arther Miller's Birthday- have fun celebrating it.
See you at the theater!