Today, I want you all to read a blog from my coach, friend and mentor, Mark Westbrook.
He is the founder of Acting Coach Scotland and head coach there. Here he talks about the two different kind of actors that exist…
“I believe there are two types of acting. What I would like to call Virtuoso Performing and Invisible Acting.
Virtuoso Performing is a type of acting that draws attention to itself. It is self consciously performing, and the audience are aware of and marvel at the virtuosity of the performer. In other words the acting isn’t hiding, we see the performance for what it is and we appreciate the skill required to put on such an act or performance.
When Alan Cumming performed Macbeth, when Kevin Spacey performed Richard III, they are giving virtuoso performances, we marvel at the actor’s performance.
That’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable or special, it’s just a particular kind of acting. It particularly suits non-naturalistic styles of performance like Shakespeare, Opera, Pantomime, or any show where the personality of the performer is going to be central to the success of the show.
However, it is this style of acting that most actors believe makes for good acting. It is why some struggle with the transition to acting for camera and why so much theatre is painfully self conscious. It is not suited to naturalism and has created a very self conscious style of performance in our theatres.
This misunderstanding further affects the audience who as a result of the actor’s mistaken belief, also believe that this is what good acting looks like.
The performance is done for the audience, who sit back and marvel at how they are regaled. It requires little interaction, and no investment.
Invisible Acting draws no attention to itself. There is no attempt at having the audience be aware of the skill of the performer. There is no performer. The audience see only a man or a woman, a boy or a girl, behaviour consistently with the truth of the moment and the fiction of the imaginary circumstances.
We marvel at invisible acting when we cannot see the strings, cannot see the performance, we see the actor and fully accept them as the character that they represent. Sometimes we barely even notice them in the show or film because they don’t draw attention to themselves.
This performance is done as if the audience aren’t even there (aside from being audible and visible). We cannot sit back, we are not spoon fed, we have to engage, we have to invest.
I prefer this type of performance, but it isn’t better or worse than the virtuoso, it is just different.
The problem started a long time ago, but exists still – actors think they need to be virtuosos in every role, when sometimes they simply have to disappear.
Mark Westbrook is the Senior Coach at Acting Coach Scotland in Glasgow, UK.
- See more at: http://actingcoachscotland.co.uk/2014/04/two-types-of-acting/#sthash.IiriECnP.dpu