I Believe This About Acting
Conclusion / 5

Very often, in the actor's attempt to take on a character, he will use all sorts of makeup, wigs, and accents. These can be helpful, but they sometimes obscure the real person, and then we have neither the actor nor the character. 

Within and Without, Depth and Surface are in all acting. We go deeply into a part in order to come out with fullness and believability. Michael Chekhov wrote of the "psychological gesture." If you put your hand to your head, something will happen to you inside. If you extend your arms wide, something will happen inside. You can start the other way around. You can begin with a memory of something deep in your mind. In every part, however, within and without must be one. 

An example of these opposites working together occurred to me when the Hamlet Revisited Company was in rehearsal for Shakespeare's Hamlet: Revisited. We had come to Ophelia's mad scene, and Ell Siegel gave me a directorial suggestion which swiftly brought together Ophelia as frighteningly in herself, and also out of herself with distraction. Mr. Siegel suggested that as I came to the line of her song, "Fare thee well, my dove," I slowly extend my arm as if I were holding a small bird; then release the bird and watch it fly into the air, as though something very close to me were going far out into the world. I have played this scene many times, and that gesture never fails to cause a deep emotion within me. 

In the world of acting, there is a need for a central idea which combines both technique and purpose—what Stanislavski called the "broad base." Eli Siegel's Theory of Opposites advances and gives a further dimension to all that has been learned about acting. We actors need a purpose that we can see as lastingly right. 

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