Acting Emotions

Acting Emotions

ELLY A. KONIJN
TRANSLATED BY BARBARA LEACH
WITH DAVID CHAMBERS
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46n1zd
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  • Book Info
    Acting Emotions
    Book Description:

    Actors and actresses play characters such as the embittered Medea, or the lovelorn Romeo, or the grieving and tearful Hecabe. The theatre audience holds its breath, and then sparks begin to fly. But what about the actor? Has he been affected by the emotions of the character he is playing? What's going on inside his mind? The styling of emotions in the theatre has been the subject of heated debate for centuries. In fact, Diderot in his Paradoxe sur le comedien, insisted that most brilliant actors do not feel anything onstage. This greatly resembles the detached acting style associated with Bertolt Brecht, which, in turn, stands in direct opposition to the notion of the empathy-oriented "emotional reality" of the actor which is most famously associated with the American actingstyle known as method acting. The book's survey of the various dominant acting styles is followed by an analysis of the current state of affairs regarding the psychology of emotions. By uniting the psychology of emotions with contemporary acting theories, the author is able to come to the conclusion that traditional acting theories are no longer valid for today's actor. Acting Emotions throws new light on the age-old issue of double consciousness, the paradox of the actor who must nightly express emotions while creating the illusion of spontaneity. In addition, the book bridges the gap between theory and practice by virtue of the author's large-scale field study of the emotions of professional actors. In Acting Emotions, the responses of Dutch and Flemish actors is further supplemented by the responses of a good number of American actors. The book offers a unique view of how actors act out emotions and how this acting out is intimately linked to the development of contemporary theatre. This title is available in the OAPEN Library - http://www.oapen.org.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0581-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-7)
  3. Acting Emotions An American Context
    (pp. 8-12)
    David Chambers
  4. 1 Acting Emotions: Introduction
    (pp. 13-20)

    For centuries actors have tried to make their characters as believable as possible, in deed so convincing that the audience no longer sees the actor, but believes that the actoristhe character. In the theater and related studies, how best to achieve this goal has long been the subject of intense debate. The central question in the controversy is the relationship between the emotions of the character with those of the actor. Should these coincide or should they not? The portrayal of emotions is a critical component of acting, and also seems to be one of the most difficult...

  5. 2 The Paradox Considered
    (pp. 21-35)

    To this day, heated discussions are held concerning the paradoxical relationship between the ‘truth’ ofthe actor’s emotions and the emotions portrayed by his character. Diderot’sParadoxe surle Comédien was, and frequently still is, the locus ofa debate in which diametrically opposed views are held. On one side are the so-called emotionalists, whobelievethat the actor himselfmust experience the emotions he/she expresses in his/her role. On the other side are the so-called emotionalists, whobelievethat the actor must not allow himself to be overwhelmed with his character’s emotions. Diderot himself took an extreme point of view: He proposed,...

  6. 3 Acting Styles
    (pp. 36-55)

    Opposing viewpoints about the acrar and emotions can be recognized today in, for example, the styles of acting advocated by Stanislavsky and Brecht. These styles are diametrically opposed yet they have influenced western acting equally. In contemporary cheater we see three general styles which differ from each other relative to the relationship ofthe emotions ofthe actor to those ofthe character. These three acting styles can be classified as 1) the style of involvement, 2) the style of detachment, and 3) the style of self-expression (3.2, 3.3, and 3-4),¹

    These three acting styles implicitly suggest three solutions for ‘the dilemma’. These...

  7. 4 Emotions and Acting
    (pp. 56-78)

    In the last chapter I suggested that task-emotions can play a central part in portraying character-emotions on stage. They would seem to be useful for acting with conviction, but are not discussed in any of the accepted acting theories. This is perhaps because most acting theory is limited to the description of a practice-oriented method with which the actor can reach an optima! job performance relating to his role. Opinions differ as to exactly what an optimal job performance is, as well as on how to achieve it. In this book, the accent lies on the acting process and related...

  8. 5 Imagination and Impersonation
    (pp. 79-103)

    Acting is traditionally. among other things, directed toward portraying a character’s emotional world as believably and convincingly as possible. Such characters are perceived as experiencing emotions that correspond to those that people have in real life. However, the emotion characters experience are not emotions in the true sense, as was shown in subsection 4.3.1. This chapter will concentrate on the impersonation of character-emotions, as well as the relationship between the impersonation of a character-emotion and the actor’s own feelings.

    As stated, character-emotions are representations of emotions, not the emotions themselves. In the foregoing chapter various important aspects of the emotion...

  9. 6 Actors in Practice
    (pp. 104-122)

    In this chapter I will make the transition from theoretical considerations to practical field research. To increase our understanding of acting, it is important to find support for theoretical insights about the acting of emotions in the acting profession. Field research (on emotion) with actors is still in the developmental stage; relatively little research has thus far been conducted. The research which has been published is difficult to find, poorly documented, and very sporadic. Nonetheless, I will provide an overview here. For my study it was important to review work that had already been done in this area, to see...

  10. 7 professional Actors, Emotions, and performinll Styles
    (pp. 123-145)

    In this chapter I will make the transition from theoretical considerations to practical field research. To increase our understanding of acting, it is important to find support for theoretical insights about the acting of emotions in the acting profession. Field research (on emotion) with actors is still in the developmental stage; relatively little research has thus far been conducted. The research which has been published is difficult to find, poorly documented, and very sporadic. Nonetheless, I will provide an overview here. For my study it was important to review work that had already been done in this area, to see...

  11. 8 Actors Have Emotions and Act Emotions
    (pp. 146-163)

    This last chapter begins with a review of the main issues discussed thus far. The results of the field study on acting will then be related to acting theory. The heart of acting lies in giving form to emotions on stage. Emotions are central to the dramatic arts: Actors’ emotions, emotional expression, character-emotions, conveying emotion, audience emotions, etc. Directors and theoreticianshavepostulated various notions about the relationship between how character-emotions are portrayed and the emotions actors experience.

    Diderot claimed that actors themselves should not feel any emotions whatsoever in order to be able to evoke a maximum ofemotion in...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 164-176)
  13. References
    (pp. 177-192)
  14. Appendix
    (pp. 193-194)
  15. Glossary
    (pp. 195-200)
  16. List of Illustrations
    (pp. 201-202)
  17. Index
    (pp. 203-208)
  18. About the Author
    (pp. 209-209)