Let’s turn our attention to the key elements of a Practical Aesthetics Acting Class:
The Practical Approach
A Practical Aesthetics Acting Class focuses (in contrast to the ethereal and internal “Method” approach) on what the Actor is actually doing or trying to do within the scene, and in the moment.
Acting is about action then, and as such it’s the actor’s actions that construct the dynamics of the “character” as perceived by the audience. A Practical Aesthetics Acting Class helps the actor find key goals to pursue within each and every scene, with the complete freedom to be natural and truthful every time.
Voice & Body – The Foundation
Since the voice and body are the actor’s instruments, a Practical Aesthetics student will learn simple and effective techniques to optimise these instruments. To encourage a state of readiness and flexibility.
The body and its muscles, including those affecting breathing and clarity of speech will be lightly stretched and relaxed – tension in mind and body can be the enemy of even the best actors.
Likewise, expect a Practical Aesthetics Class to give you some fundamental exercises to warm the larynx, and some verbal gymnastics to loosen the jaw, tongue and lips.
Since it’s said that only seven percent of our communication comes solely from the words we choose, the remaining ninety three percent is greatly influenced by vocal nuances of tone, pitch and rhythm as well as body language.
Warming up of voice and body is fundamental across all types of actor training. However, it’s in the next phase of learning known as the Repetition Technique or Repetition Exercise, where the Practical Aesthetics acting student begins to specialise.
There is little benefit in explaining the mechanics of this exercise in detail – like a good script it’s designed to be acted upon, not talked about. However, the Repetition Exercise has at its core one of the most valuable tools of any great actor’s craft – the development of observation skills.
Great observation skills are truly invaluable to an actor for they encourage: an alert attentiveness, an ability to absorb minute details of communication (particularly in its non verbal form) and crucially, to react truthfully to what they have in front of them.
It also has a style of approach which encourages two actors to engage with each other in a specific form of dialogue which prepares them for the later activity of setting out to achieve a goal or ‘Essential Action’.
The Repetition Exercise can be fun, demanding and occasionally gently competitive. The student learns to use the other person to influence how they behave – something that runs throughout the different stages of a Practical Aesthetics Acting Class.
When the most wonderfully electric scenes are carried out by fine actors on the stage and screen, they are fresh, alive and full of energy. That’s usually because the actor’s are reacting off of each other. This avoids the notion of “deadly theatre” where a play is exhaustingly rehearsed in the same manner and tone, and the actors become automatons and leave the audience bored and unengaged.
Acting is re-acting, and the Repetition Exercise is an invaluable process to practice that skill.
In the next blog, we’ll explore Script/Scene Analysis