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Friday, July 20, 2018

"Dramas are Too Quiet" AKA Where's the Actor's Technique?

If the actor chooses an action/objective for each and every sentence, comprehends that it's necessary to make one's partner see the image/thought in one's eye, regardless of where the mike is, regardless of the director's talent or lack thereof, the sound engineer's talent or lack thereof, that sentence, the idea of that sentence will be heard. 

If the actor has been trained to do that, and doesn't do it, or doesn't recognize that it's necessary to do it, but relies merely on their talent, then we will hear words, some comprehensible, some not, but we won't know the idea of the sentence.  Many talented actors fall into this bad habit.  I'm singling out Eliza Scanlen, who plays Amma Crellin in HBO's Sharp Objects, because at least one of her scenes in that series is mentioned in Ms. VanArendonk's review in Vulture (see link below) and I saw the scene.  Ms. Scanlen's performance, so far, suffers from her innate talent which relies on instinct and the decision, made in advance, of how she wants to say the sentence, of the resulting mood or feeling of the sentence.  The  performance delivers indicated acting, and a lot of elbow-jabbing in the audience with audible "what did she say?"

Ms. VanArendonk mentioned a telephone exchange that Amy Adams performed.  I didn't go back to watch it, but am certain that Ms. Adams did not examine carefully, for that scene, what made her say each thought.  It's my opinion that Ms. Adams understands her characters very well in many of her performances.  Her work in Doubt, for example, was luminous.  What a pleasure it was to be taken for a secure ride with the lead actors of that film!  However, in Sharp Objects, I think she hasn't sharpened the actions of each sentence; she has worked on the inner life of the character and is showing it.  But the character utters ideas/needs in order to survive, to get a grip on her relationship to her environment, and each sentence she utters is progressive toward the journey of discovery she has undertaken. "What need is making me say this sentence?"   We would hear the ideas of each sentence with clarity if Ms. Adams had done this preparatory work.



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