"Our body must appropriate every movement, as little as it is. Everyone must follow his own unique way. Stereotypic exercises don't exist. If we lift an ice cube, our whole body must react to the movement and the cold. The sense of cold, which emanates from the ice cube, must be evident not only from our fingertips or hands but also with our whole body." [Grotowski Jerzy, Das Arme Theater]
I use film terminology in acting classes: LS, MS, CU, XCU -- yes, wide shot ask for different (big) acting in contrast with the Closeup (see Film-North fo details).
Actor has to learn how to switch between the different modes of acting. Yes, my friends, you focus your audience attentions like the camera does it!
The rule of FRAMING is that the rest of the world is out of view, CUT OFF. If you want me to motice the changes on your face (CU), you can't move in space (MS or LS) -- I will miss it!
CU is often called "Head Shot" and MS - "Chest Shot": meaning that if you want to express "it" with your hands -- save it all for that "shot"!
"Act with hands only" (behind the door, make a dialogue with your hands only). "Feet Act"... or "heads only"...
Look at your monologue and design your movement -- CU, MS, LS (mark on Actor's Text). If "close up" -- what it will be -- eyes, mouth?
Cut everything else out!
Framing... or focusing.
Another name -- directing!
This chapter has several mini-chapters: one of them for actors.
I call it -- Actor Body Meditation. Yes, homework and, yes, no less important than the wormups. The visualization of your own body --surface, musles, nerves, veins, bones. Layer by layer, part by part. The structures of the bodymachine. Actor must to put himself into a special mindset, without this attitude biomechanics become acrobatics. Do you know YOUR body? Did you studied it? Do you know how to do it?
CU (closeup shot)
MS (medium shot)
LS (long shot)
^ The Shrew Film Directing "showcase" ^
"If we observed a skilled worker in action we notice the following in his movements; (1) an absence of superfluous, unproductive movements; (2) rhythm; (3) the correct positioning of the body’s centre of gravity; (4) stability." [Meyerhold, 1922]
SummaryKinoetics: Our Personal Body Language
Questions"…the truth of human relationships and behaviour is best expressed not by words, but by gestures, steps, attitudes and poses." [Roose-Evans, 1989]
NotesNew images from the Greek & Roman Times:
2004 & After
…Meyerhold's bio-mechanical actor said, "I make these movements because I know that when I make them what I want to do can most easily and directly be done."  "The Actor's Ways and Means", Michael Redgrave, William Heinemann Ltd, 1953
nonverbal communication by means of facial expessions, eye behavior, gestures, posture, and the like. Body language expresses emotions, feelings, and attitudes, sometimes even contradicting the messages conveyed by spoken language. Some nonverbal expressions are understood by people in all cultures; other expressions are particular to specific cultures. Kinesics, the scientific study of body language, was pioneered by the anthropologist Ray L. Birdwhistell, who wrote Introduction to Kinesics (1952).
Body Language is the unspoken communication that goes on in every Face-to-Face encounter with another human being. It tells you their true feelings towards you and how well your words are being received. Between 60-80% of our message is communicated through our Body Language, only 7-10% is attributable to the actual words of a conversation.
FAQ: A frequently asked question is, "What percent of our communication is nonverbal?" According to Kramer, "94% of our communication is nonverbal, Jerry" (Seinfeld, January 29, 1998). Kramer's estimate (like the statistics of anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell [65%; Knapp 1972] and of psychologist Albert Mehrabian [93%; 1971]) are hard to verify. But the proportion of our emotional communication that is expressed apart from words surely exceeds 99%. [ * ]
"To study language by listening only to utterances, say [University of Chicago professor of psychology and linguistics, David] McNeill and those who subscribe to his theories, is to miss as much as 75 percent of the meaning" (Mahany 1997:E-3).
THE SILENT COMMUNICATION
Chinese Emotion and Gesture
To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe. --Marilyn vos Savant Your body doesn't know how to lie!
* The process of sending and receiving wordless messages by means of facial expressions, gaze, gestures, postures, and tones of voice.
* Anthropologist Gregory Bateson has noted that our nonverbal communication is still evolving: "If . . . verbal language were in any sense an evolutionary replacement of communication by means of kinesics and paralanguage, we would expect the old, predominantly iconic systems to have undergone conspicuous decay. Clearly they have not. Rather, the kinesics of men have become richer and more complex, and paralanguage has blossomed side by side with the evolution of verbal language" (Bateson 1968:614).
* The first scientific study of nonverbal communication was published in 1872 by Charles Darwin in his book, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Since the mid-1800s thousands of research projects in archaeology, biology, cultural and physical anthropology, linguistics, primatology, psychology, psychiatry, and zoology have been completed, establishing a generally recognized corpus of nonverbal cues. Recent discoveries in neuroscience funded during the 1990-2000 "Decade of the Brain" have provided a clearer picture of what the unspoken signs in this corpus mean. Because we now know how the brain processes nonverbal cues, body language has come of age in the 21st Century as a science to help us understand what it means to be human.
* Neuro-notes. Nonverbal messages are so potent and compelling because they are processed in ancient brain centers located beneath the newer areas used for speech (see VERBAL CENTER). From paleocircuits in the spinal cord, brain stem, basal ganglia, and limbic system, nonverbal cues are produced and received below the level of conscious awareness (see NONVERBAL BRAIN). They give our days the "look" and "feel" we remember long after words have died away.
BODY MOVEMENTI have always tried to render inner feelings through the mobility of the muscles . . . --Auguste Rodin
As an actor, Jimmy was tremendously sensitive, what they used to call an instrument. You could see through his feelings. His body was very graphic; it was almost writhing in pain sometimes. He was very twisted, almost like a cripple or a spastic of some kind. --Elia Kazan, commenting on actor James Dean (Dalton 1984:53)
Concept. Any of several changes in the physical location, place, or position of the material parts of the human form (e.g., of the eyelids, hands, or shoulders).
Usage: The nonverbal brain expresses itself through diverse motions of our body parts (see, e.g., BODY LANGUAGE, GESTURE). That body movement is central to our expressiveness is reflected in the ancient Indo-European root, meue- ("mobile"), for the English word, emotion.
Anatomy. Our body consists of a jointed skeleton moved by muscles. Muscles also move our internal organs, the areas of skin around our face and neck, and our bodily hairs. (When we are frightened, e.g., stiff, tiny muscles stand our hairs on end.) The nonverbal brain gives voice to all its feelings, moods, and concepts through the contraction of muscles: without muscles to move its parts, our body would be nearly silent.
Anthropology. Stricken with a progressive spinal-cord illness, the late anthropologist, Robert F. Murphy described his personal journey into paralysis in his last book, The Body Silent. As he lost muscle control, Murphy noticed "curious shifts and nuances" in his social world (e.g., students ". . . often would touch my arm or shoulder lightly when taking leave of me, something they never did in my walking days, and I found this pleasant" [Murphy 1987:126]).
Confidence. "The physical confidence that he [Erik Weihenmayer, 33, the first blind climber to scale Mount Everest] projects has to do with having an athlete's awareness of how his body moves through space. Plenty of sighted people walk through life with less poise and grace than Erik, unsure of their steps, second-guessing every move" (Greenfeld 2001:57).
Media. In movies of the 1950s, such as Monkey Business (1952) and Jailhouse Rock (1957), motions of the pelvic girdles of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, respectively, had a powerful influence on American popular culture.
Salesmanship. "Your walk, entering and exiting, should be brisk and businesslike, yes. But once you are in position, slow your arms and legs down" (Delmar 1984:48).
David B. Givens / Center for Nonverbal Studies
"If the tip of the nose works, the whole body works." V. E. MeyerholdThe famous Leonardo's drawing gives an idea about the basic geometry of our bodies and "our immidiate body space" (see the circle and the square). Draw the diagonals from the coners of the square and two lines through the center: you will discover the symmetrical arrangements -- the space we operate within while moving. Depending on your movement, you will be focusing my attention on different parts (shot-principle) -- and this the part of your body is ready to become a sign! (Semiotics)
You heard it many times: body is actor's tool! Actor is a master of his body! You spent years in training to learn how to control your own body.... but perhaps we should make another step and consider your body as a prop.
You remember the formula "actor = creator + medium"? Imagine that your body parts are the props (see Body Breakdown exercises). You have to make use of them -- head, hands, arms, legs, etc.
The changes of those parts are the signs, which you put together into stage sentences.
"Dramatic pauses" are the highest points of action, no lines, no movement -- that's the place to aim.
Body is the best dramatic "text" -- because we do the work, INTERPRETATIONS!
"Character's walk" -- you did it in your acting classes. That is "master gesture" Michael Chekhov was talking about.Your facial expressions are all wrong. . . . Facial expressions must emerge from the actor's clear notion of the person he is actually playing. . . . Your gestures are not well-defined, and consequently your facial play is poor, without any idea of the character. The impression here is that the actor meticulously carries out the mise-en-scene, invented by the director. But you can't deceive the audience; the audience takes in [the performance] as a whole. If an excellent mise-en-scene is accompanied by poor facial play, the spectator will disapprove the mise-en-scene as well. (II: 194)Do you see how Meyer stresses the contextuality? We "read" one sign always in relations to others (that's how the movement stage sentences is composed). Of course, it's within the context of the other signs -- color, text, sound, and etc.
Theatricality (Writing and Reading the Stages Languages):When people go to a sculpture exhibit, they do not expect to find painted eyes or real natural eyes inserted into a tiger's skin. Nobody demands that these eyes sparkle like the real ones; nobody says: where is the true color of the human skin? The theatre audience also knows the secret of the stage, it knows that everything will be theatrical, not real.... Excitability must be measured according to the stage's needs; it is absolutely necessary for the actor to have an inner controller who helps him to measure [excitability] in front of the audience. There is one degree of excitement for Sophocles's Antigone and another for a vaudeville. (II: 197-98)
How to go from CU to MS? (stage equivalents)
* Write in your journal what in your body represents your individuality the most.
* Do the same with your character.
* Define the pictures on this page: Closeup, Medium Shot, Long Shot.
Theatre w/Anatoly (before Biomechanics -- System of the Method, Stanislavsky) BioForum (BM and Comedy archives).
Do you want to be a star?
Well, start treating yourself as such.
Do you have your wish list? The roles you want to play.
You should. Write it down, the list. Get the monologues from those play, memorize and rehearse them, audition with them.
Do you know what you shouldn't do?
You have to know.
Do you know your strong and weak sides?
Do you keep your actor's journal? Do you have one?
Well, who is your manager? Your agent? Your publicist?
No, you are wrong, you have them! It's you. Do the work!
"Since the art of the actor is the art of plastic forms in space, he must study the mechanics of his body. This is essential because any manifestation of a force (including the living organism) is subject to constant laws of mechanics (and obviously the creation by the actor of plastic forms in the space of the stage is a manifestation of the force of the human organism)." (Braun 199)
Frederick Matthias Alexander developed his Technique as a young actor in late 19th-century Australia. Alexander, who specialized in Shakespearean recitations, was plagued by voice problems. Medical advice and treatment had no effect on the extreme hoarseness that marred his performances; so Alexander began a careful self-examination of his speaking habits and techniques. Using mirrors, he soon noticed that he was pulling his head backward and downward as he spoke, not only in his performances but (more subtly) even in his everyday speech.F. Matthias Alexander, the developer of the Alexander Technique was his own teacher and was fond of remarking, "Anyone can do what I did, IF they will do what I did."
This observation led Alexander to experiment with changing his postural habits. He continued working with mirrors, discovering that many of his ideas about "good posture" only increased his body tension, limited his range of movement, and further strained his voice. It was only as he learned to stop those restrictive patterns that he was able to release his neck from his habitual downward pull. His hoarseness vanished, and he experienced a new sensation of lightness and ease in all of his movements.
Alexander not only preserved his acting career, but became known among fellow actors for his insight into the relationship between posture and performance. He was encouraged to teach his discoveries to others. Eventually he moved to England, where his work was championed by Aldous Huxley, and later by John Dewey in America, spreading his reputation far beyond the realm of the performing arts.
In the 1930’s Alexander began a teacher training program to enable others to teach his Technique. Today there are many such training programs and several thousand practicing teachers of the Alexander Technique around the world. Most teachers offer private lessons; some teach group lessons in classroom settings or seminars. In either case, the Technique is applied both to common everyday movements (such as walking or rising from a chair) and to movements that are more directly related to the student’s profession and/or lifestyle (such as serving a tennis ball or sitting at a computer keyboard).
From the very first lesson, changes begin to occur in awareness and movement patterns. It may, however, take several weeks or months before students are able to consistently apply the Technique in their lives.
As Alexander himself discovered, healthy alignment of the body can have profound consequences. Energy that was formerly devoted to counterproductive muscle tension is available for more useful purposes. Jane Kosminsky, in her introductory video to the Alexander Technique, The Balance of Well-Being, tells the story of a man whose high-pitched voice deepened into a resonant bass as the Technique enabled him to speak with full, relaxed breath support for the first time in his life. Freeing the neck encourages the entire spine to decompress, creating more space for the internal structures, for unrestricted circulation of blood and other fluids, and for more efficient functioning of all the body’s systems.
The simplest way to find an Alexander teacher or a seminar is to access "The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique" on the World Wide Web at www.alexandertechnique.com. This comprehensive site is a systematic guide to just about all available Alexander Technique resources.
Anatomical signs. 1. "The bodily gestures, postures, and facial expressions by which a person communicates nonverbally with others" (Soukhanov 1992:211). 2. "Body language and kinesics are based on the behavioral patterns of nonverbal communication, but kinesics is still so new as a science that its authorities can be counted on the fingers of one hand" (Fast 1970:9).
Usage: "Body language," the lay term for "nonverbal communication," was popularized in 1970 with the publication of Body Language by Julius Fast. Though college textbooks (e.g., Burgoon et al. 1989) omit references to the book and its author, Julius Fast--more than any academic--brought public attention to the expressive force of gestures and body-motion cues.
The negative. On the downside, Fast oversold body language to the public by suggesting (on the book's dust cover) that kinesic cues could be used to tell if one was "loose" (i.e., too sexually receptive), "hung-up," "lonely," or "a manipulator." And, despite Fast's repeated warnings to use caution when interpreting body-language, arm-crossing, leg-crossing, and other nonverbal signs came to be overly meaningful signals in popular magazine and newspaper articles (i.e., as negative, defensive "barriers" to rapport).
The positive. On the upside, body language has entered the lexicon as a phrase with which to label a key channel of human communication apart from spoken and printed words. Body Language has gone through dozens of printings, and is still available in bookstores today. Moreover, thanks to research completed during the 1990-2000 Decade of the Brain, many of the nonverbal signs and cues Fast wrote about in 1970 now have meanings backed by neuroscience (see, e.g., NONVERBAL BRAIN).
The promise. "The science of kinesics has added a new dimension to human understanding. BODY LANGUAGE can make you a more perceptive human being, and it may influence your approach to every relationship in which you are involved" (dust jacket of Body Language, by Julius Fast).
Media. "The dynamic personality [i.e., the body language] of Humphrey Bogart dominates the whole picture, and his playing in the leading role is a fine example of the value of dramatic under-emphasis and intelligent modulations in voice and expression" (Today's Cinema review of 1947 movie, Dead Reckoning [Columbia; cited in Frank 1982:49]).
An online course supplement *
2005-2006 Theatre UAF Season: Four Farces + One Funeral & Godot'06
Film-North * Anatoly Antohin * eCitations *