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Jack Saunders PAMTA 1001 Acting Essay #30126982

Bachelor of arts (Music Theatre)


PAMTA 1001

JACK SAUNDERS - #30126982

Acting, it seems to me, is a craft that is


trying to be an art. We all want to be
better, more subtle, more original, more
true to the play and more perceptive to
that sense of truth that we feel in
ourselves.

1000 word essay


Jack Saunders PAMTA 1001 Acting Essay #30126982

Acting, it seems to me, is a craft that is trying to be an art. We all want to be better, more
subtle, more original, more true to the play and more perceptive to that sense of truth that we
feel in ourselves.1 This statement by John Gillett is a wholesome and unembellished metaphor
of the acting craft. In regards to the performing arts, the actor is an eccentric breed that is
constantly longing to improve and find within him or herself something special. In spite of this,
there are critical aspects of the craft, which stops acting from being an art. The subjectivity, lack
of super objective and the intrapersonal nature of acting all contribute to the dilemma of craft
versus art. Upon personal reflection and analysis of external sources, Gilletts statement stands
correct in the notion that acting is a craft trying to be an art.

The subjective nature of acting is often held accountable as the primary obstacle in the craft
becoming an artform. A script is solid and concrete; however, no two actors or audiences will
ever find an identical message in the plot, character and subtext. Esteemed actor and tutor Cliff
Osmond stated, Of course the hope in all drama and dramatic performance is that the actors
personal interpretation of the black and white squiggly and straight lines will strike a universal
chord in the audience (Aristotle called it: finding the universal in the particular) But ultimately all
art is subjective; subject to the artist's interpretation. 2 Osmonds quote encapsulates the
difficulty the acting craft faces in regards to subjectivity, as there is no correct answer in the way
an actor or audience should interpret a piece of work. On a personal level, my studies so far in
acting have highlighted this point. In the endowment of an object exercise, the actor is
required to take an action from their partner and evolve it into something else. Extracted from
my acting journal, when deciphering the action my partner was executing I found it completely
subjective, myself taking a personal message and action that may not have been my partners
intention. As much as the craft longs to be an art, acting will always be affected by the personal
and subjective aspect of the form, as well as many other reasons mostly relating to objectives
and goals.

Lack of super objective is a pressing issue in acting that often stops performers from continuing
their expertise and diminishes their artistic drive. For an actor there is no end goal like most
professions. There is no gold medal for winning the race, or certificate of appreciation for
operating on an ill patient you receive no tangible award for doing the thing you love. With no
super objective, how is an actor supposed to keep performing show after show, year after year
without that sense of accomplishment? Occupational psychologist Remez Sasson
hypothesised, Lack of motivation and lack on enthusiasm are two of the main reasons for
failure and of living a mediocre life. 3 This quote relates greatly to the acting craft as many
actors plummet into a downwards spiral after their spark and motivation disappears due to the
lack of a grand goal. Myself as a training artist, I can relate to the lack of objective some actors
can grow to be plagued by. Whilst training at the Arts Academy it is always emphasised to
practice and work hard in and out of class hours, enabling maximum growth in talent and ability.
Important as this is, motivation proves to be scarce at times due to the absence of an objective.
During abstract exercises driven by Ross Hall I have found myself desperately searching for an
outcome or goal, making me extremely frustrated. I have now begun to realise that there is no
defining objective (especially in abstract exercises) and have learnt the importance of revelling
in the moment whilst acting. Wanting to be better and more creative is important; however, it is
the process of learning and training that gives actors their greatest satisfaction. It is imperative
for actors to understand and appreciate the non-objective lifestyle of the acting craft and how it

1 Gillett, Acting Stanislavski, under heading Forward para. 9.


2 Osmond, The Subjective Experience of Character, para. 4.
3 Sasson, Lack of Motivation and Enthusiasm, para. 4.
Jack Saunders PAMTA 1001 Acting Essay #30126982

affects the form from being an art; otherwise they run the risk of jeopardising their passion and
career.

The acting craft is renowned to be extremely intrapersonal, with the actor always focussed on
themselves and their work. Often labelled as the selfish profession, acting revolves around
nothing but the actor and is a highly independent form. Due to this vain profession the craft
suffers, as the outer-expression and audience are lost because of the actors own journey and
relish in delving into their own artistic world. Acting guru Jack Plotnick has taught and mentored
talents such as Sutton Foster and Jerry Stiller, preparing them for highly professional TV and
theatre around the world. Jack raves about the importance of the personal journey in acting,
The selfish actor understands that he cannot please an audience by trying to please them.
He understands that an audiences experience can only be his experience. Therefore if the
actor, by being selfish, has a rich and powerful experience onstage, then so will the audience
while watching.4 Plotnick implies that yes, the audiences engagement is important; however,
the actors experience is the most significant factor of any performance. This notion was
explored by myself recently in our theatre practice class with our group-devised projects.
Before the show began, all my peers were worrying about what others may think of their
projects, which is the polar opposite of what Jack Plotnick is trying to convey. Before my group
performed I remembered that all the rehearsals and practice runs were not planned for our
audience, but were planned for us personally and as a group to find a journey and present at a
high standard. It is obvious through Plotnicks words and my experiences that if the actor finds
their own journey and enjoy their creative expression, it will transcend into the audience. This
intrapersonal factor of acting is two fold, giving the actor a more enjoyable and engaging
experience; however, also creating an obstacle for the craft to become an art due to its lack of
outer-expression.

Through deep and insightful analysis of my own acting experience and several professional
sources, it is clear that John Gilletts words are accurate in implying that the acting craft is
struggling and longing to be an art. Causing this battle between craft and artform are ironically
the aspects of acting that make it extraordinarily addictive and captivating: the subjectivity, lack
of super objective and the intrapersonal nature, which surrounds the actor and his craft. As an
actor in training, I wish to contribute to the craft in so many ways whilst also growing and
furthering my skill and passion. Perhaps one day the dramatic form will be shifted and shaped
into an art, but for now the craft will remain, creating brilliant actors and works to be performed
for the world.

Bibliography
4 Plotnick, Be a Selfish Actor, para. 10.
Jack Saunders PAMTA 1001 Acting Essay #30126982

Gillett, J. Acting Stanislavski: A practical guide to Stanislavskis approach and legacy. London:
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2014. Google Books. Accessed May 3 rd 2014.
http://www.books.google.com/books?isbn=1408185733

Osmond, C. ON ACTING: The Subjective Experience of Character Analysis. Blog post. Cliff
Osmond on Acting, April 25, 2012.
http://cliffosmond.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/on-acting-subjective-experience-of.html

Plotnick, J. Be a Selfish Actor. New Thoughts for Actors. Jack Plotnick, 2014. Accessed
5th May 2014. http://www.jackplotnick.com/resources/21Be+a+Selfish+Actor.htm

Sasson, R. Lack of Motivation and Enthusiasm. Mental Tools for a Great Life. Success
Consciousness, 2014. Accessed 6th of May 2014.
http://www.successconsciousness.com/lack-motivation-enthusiasm.htm