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
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.
Chekhov wrote of the "psychological gesture." If you put your hand to
head, something will happen to you inside. If you extend your arms
something will happen inside. You can start the other way around. You
begin with a memory of something deep in your mind. In every part,
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
in herself, and also out of herself with distraction. Mr.
suggested that as I came to the line of her song, "Fare thee well, my
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
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."
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
can see as lastingly right.