Friday, October 7, 2011

Reflections On Acting - Part I

Despite what I do, can I consider myself "an actor"? Should I call what I do "acting"? If acting means creating fiction or something artificial, it is not the way I would really define what I do. Acting is to me a search, a mechanism, a function.
Many actors perform in ways that are not only absolutely irrealistic, but are devoid of sense, meaning, heart. Many actors - even famous ones - are totally unprepared for what they are doing, to the point where I have doubts they actually do anything else besides learning their lines. They are actors in the sense that they are merely telling a lie; they are trying to make someone else believe that they are who they are not. They act.
Performing is instead an extension of the real me, it is transporting myself into a parallel dimension where I am still myself but in a different context and wearing different garments, both literally and metaphorically. It is me, not Hamlet, it is my own body, not Hamlet's, sweating from the heat of the spotlights; it is my own emotionality, not Hamlet's, my own psyche, not Hamlet's, reacting to the emotional feedback received from another performer, or from a given context.
I believe that any preparatory work, either for performing in general or for building a character, should be done primarily on the performer. Relaxation, memory training, vocal training, the development of an emotional memory, improvisation training; this kind of work-out is done by the performer, who then uses it for his own purposes, which are not necessarily strictly related to stage or camera life, but to real life as well. This is why I cannot in the world call myself an actor. There is something more to acting, something that goes beyond a mere representation of an emotional state. That state is instead recreated, lived through in full participation and thorough personal involvement.
At this point, you might be wondering, "What is then the difference between life and fiction"? Here is my answer: the emotional flow I need when I'm performing can be controlled. This is the difference. It is happening inside of myself and I am fully involved in it; yet, at the same time, I am able to remain at an objective level. I am watching myself from outside of myself, from above; through a complex system of wires and threads I move and direct the non-physical dimension of myself, the one relating to my emotions and feelings. Imagine hearing a voice telling you "Live this emotion, breathe it, it is real; feel the pain, feel the tears slowly welling up, the rage twisting your intestines and mounting, mounting, BUT: it is just an experiment, do not forget". As such, I can, I must control it.

I am the puppet and the puppetteer.
I am the mover, the moved, and the motion.


  1. Hmmm very deep thoughts on acting, Jacopo. Performing and acting are definitely different. I don't want to be biased but I give more credit to actors who perform live on stage. There's only one shot; there's no editing and no do-overs, no room for mistakes. I commend their efforts. The audience can also feel the performers' emotions and therefore, empathize with the characters. Live performances are definitely worth seeing.

  2. You're right, performing live on stage calls for mastery and true skills. I also have to tell you, though, that acting in film is only apparently easy. When I do it, I realize I have to transfer my theatre acting skill on totally new grounds. Trust me, just like the audience, a camera aimed right at your face, can just and purely kill you!! When you see a movie with good acting in it, and it seems the actors made no efforts, it's just like when you read Proust's "Recherche" and it seems he put no effort in writing it.
    Your right, however. It takes guts to step on stage and face the audience.
    Thank you for your precious comments, my friend!!

  3. You make a lot of useful points in your posts, and I can see we share a love for reading about actors and acting.

    Comments: make sure you get a line break between paragraphs (use the preview key) so that you don't post your text all in one block. Also, if you click on the pictures you upload you can resize and wrap the text, which gives you some options on how it looks. But what you're writing is terrific. I like it!

    BTW, if you haven't read the book "Irving Thalberg: Boy Wonder to Producer Prince" by Mark A. Vieira you might like it. It's about the days when movies were made by people who really loved movies and knew how to bring actors along. All the best. Envious that you're shooting two films in Europe. Wow.

  4. Kathryn,
    I really appreciate your advice. I'm pretty new to the blogosphere and there are lots of things I still need to work out.
    I'm really glad you like what I write. Your blog was a happy discovery for me too!

    Thank you!