IB THEATER HIGHER LEVELSOLO PROJECTTheorist: Lee StrasbergTheory: Method ActingAspects: Affective Memory and Substitution Word count: 2959*Note Camera 1 failed (camera I was looking at) therefore we had to use Camera 2 footageContents:Criterion A……………………………………………………………………………………..1 Criterion B……………………………………………………………………………………..3 Criterion C…………………………………………………………………………………….12 Criterion D…………………………………………………………………………………….16 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HL CRITERION AThe Theorist and the Context:The method I explored was ‹‹Method Acting‹, which is a theory developed by Lee Strasberg a Polish – American, director, actor and theatre practitioner. Lee Strasberg was born on November 17, 1901, in Budzanow, Poland and died on February 17, 1982 in New York.
(Britannica ‹Lee Strasberg‹). Lee Strasberg is known as the Father of Method Acting in America, as he focused on the art of using emotional memories and realism to create a very realistic and genuine touch of drama (Yang). Strasberg’s technique roots from Konstantin Stanislavski’s system with whom after viewing his work, was very inspired to further develop the system of actors using their memories to immerse in character.In 1923, Lee Strasberg underwent a life-changing experience, when he attended Konstantin Stanislavski’s production at the Moscow Art Theatre American tour.
This Stanislavski directed performance influenced Strasburg’s entire career. He began working with the Theatre Guild, and started out as an assistant stage manager, before moving into the acting. (‹Lee Strasberg)‹ . He retired in 1929, and after that decided to create his own Dramatic Organization, so he formed the Group Theatre in 1931. While being with the Group Theatre, Lee Strasberg directed multiple plays including the famous ‹Men In White ‹by Sidney Kingsley which went on to win a Pulitzer Prize (‹Lee Strasberg)‹ .The Theory:Lee Strasberg’s Method Acting is very similar to Konstantin Stanislavski’s System, however what Strasburg did, was he took it one step further and developed a theory called substitution. Rather than an actor only using emotional memory, Strasberg required the actor to use the Substitution‹ technique where they temporarily immerse themselves and become the character they are playing (Hodge, 148). 1 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HLMethod acting entails on achieving realism, which differs from other classical acting methods where performers over exaggerate their acting making it unrealistic. Lee Strasberg aims to have the actor understand their character on a higher level to help them become that character. According to the ‹Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, method actors‹ use their imagination, senses and emotions to conceive of characters with unique and original behavior, creating performances grounded in the human truth of the moment (‹Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute.‹). This indicates that the actors need to envision the scenarios as real life ones and act accordingly to how they naturally would in real life, which creates the effect of realism and less stage acting.Strasberg identified what he saw as limitations to Stanislavski’s system, in that actors’ emotional memories were insufficient to fully connect to the circumstances experienced by the characters they were portraying (A Dream of Passion, Strasberg).Method Acting indicates that actors should prepare for a role by immersing themselves as much as possible in the circumstances of their characters. This can include living on a farm, working in a factory, or transforming their bodies. Method acting has come under scrutiny because it is believed that some actors go so far to replicate the lives of their characters, that they actually put their health or lives at risk. (Method Acting).Strasberg used to say that when actors utilize and practice Method Acting, it is usually what the audience will look at and view as good acting, (‹Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute.‹).Selected Aspects:My selected aspects are ‹Affective memory‹, and ‹Substitution‹. Affective memory is one of Stanislavski’s aspects that was further developed by Strasberg. Substitution is one of Lee Strasberg’s most prominent aspects where the actor must utilize sensory memory, affective memory and undergo atmospheric changes to substitute themselves into the character they are playing. 2 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HLAffective memory is when the actor utilizes emotional memory and sensory memory to assist them in immersing into their character that they are portraying and helps them act in a realistic manner that provides a sense of authenticity within the piece. Affective Memory techniques require an actor to go to a place in their life in which they can use or relate those emotions to the ones they are feeling within their character (Hodge, 2010). Before going into the process of Affective Memory, Strasberg recommends the actor to take a ‹private moment on their own to relax and feel calm in order to revisit emotional times and be focused. (Hodge, 2010) Then the actor must try and remember the aspects of that scenario they are recalling, such as how they felt, what they saw, how they moved, all of these aspects help the character in creating realistic and natural movements and this helps the audience feel more immersed into the piece and impacted because it is realistic (Cohen, 2017).Substitution ‹is Strasberg’s theory where he has the actors substitute themselves into the character they are playing, through wearing similar clothes, eating similar foods etc. This technique is meant to advance the actors understanding of their character which will assist them in delivering an authentic performance. (Yang).Criterion B:Practical Explorations:Method Acting focuses on the essence of Realism, therefore I felt that in order to fully depict a realistic performance, writing my own script would aid that. To understand Stanislavski’s System that Lee Strasberg was inspired by, I read ‹Acting on Impulse ‹by John Gillett thats describes each step to The System. I read Strasberg’s books and watched a few of his lectures he made on his development of Method Acting ‹(Strasberg Film, Lee Strasberg Legacy Reel)‹. In a documentary about Strasberg called ‹The Method Man,‹ it was mentioned that Strasberg tested the validity of his theory by teaching them before writing books ‹(The Method Man)‹. I tried to do a similar take, by teaching my class a few exercises that involve using elements of method acting, during the beginning of my exploration. 3 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HLI taught an activity to my Theatre class that focused on practicing ‹Sensory Memory‹ that is from Lola Cohen’s book The Method Acting exercises ‹called Breakfast Drink Exercise. The students used Affective Memory by recalling the process of drinking their favorite morning beverage, and then through sensory memory, need to experience the same process with an imaginary cup, targeting all the senses. Strasberg always said to not physically imitate what one would do with a cup at home, but rather to re experience all the sensations that come with it. The students had believed there was a cup after deeply exploring all the aspects of it, that when I told them to break the cup many of them were hesitant to do so as they forgot it was not real.Figure 1‹ – ‹Me teaching The Method to my Theatre class on January 31st 2018 (‹ ‹hbh207)Physical Explorations:I tried Method Acting, in my school’s production of The Crucible ‹by Arthur Miller, my role was Abigail Williams a very deviant and evil young girl. In Strasberg’s book ‹A Dream of Passion ‹he mentionedhow it is crucial to truly understand the character you are playing. I did research on Abigail Williams and looked at her from a sympathetic point of view as well as a judgement one so I can really understand her as a person. I used ‹Substitution by annotating the play and focusing on Abigail’s movements and ways of walking, I noticed Abigail tries to depict herself as very confident and powerful so she walks with a straight back and chin up. I would practice my walk and speaking loudly everyday in the mirror and before rehearsals I would use ‹Affective Memory to recall any events that made me feel really angry and frustrated to relay that in my character. 4 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HL Lee stressed the fact that actors should use concentration before performing to get into character(‹Strasberg Strasberg at the Actors Studio), (Cohen, The Lee Strasberg Notes)‹.Development of the Solo Piece:My starting point was Rascal Flatts’ song ‹Why’.‹ This song is about one discovering that someone they loved and thought was doing fine was really not. I was drawn to this song because of the way it told a deep story (‹Why‹, ‹Rascal Flatts‹).Brainstorming Rascal Flatts Why:Figure 2- A Mind Map Annotating The Starting Point, (‹ ‹hbh207 ‹ )I realized that ‹people do not notice the true emotions of people, because we do notask, ‹this idea interested me greatly, so I decided to focus my piece on the dangers of masking 5 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HL feelings. I explored situations where one might hide their true emotions, and the biggest one tome was when answering the question‹ Are you okay?. Intention, Audience Impact and application of Theory: Figure 3: My Intention, Impact and Application of Theory (‹ ‹hbh207 ‹)Affective Memory involves me extracting my memories that can assist me in drawing up emotions. Therefore I needed to find experiences I have had with depression ‹(Actor training)‹. My father passed away in 2016, and after this my mother went through depression for a few6 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HL months, this I vividly remembered her appearance and actions during the time as well as how Ifelt.Figure 4: Diary Extract: Recollecting My Mother’s Depression (‹ ‹hbh207 ‹)I felt that depression as a mental issue would allow using ‹Affective Memory and give a realistic performance. I encountered ‹Depression: a very common mental illness that affects how one feels and acts. The symptoms were: low mood and energy, negative thoughts, and lack of interest of previously enjoyable things. I believed this could give a realistic performance showing my character’s emotions and the importance of the help of others for someone with depression. ‹(‹psychiatry) 7 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HL Discussion with The Class Before The Mock Performance:My class advised me to make the performance very intimate and personal. One person suggested that I stay in one place the entire time to make the focus only on my words. I got suggestions for natural lighting because that follows with the realism effect. They voiced to me, that with discussing a serious issue like depression and suicide, I needed to get the audience to fully connect with the character. I took all these suggestions and created a moodboard with aspects I would like to include in my performance.Moodboard: Figure 5: Moodboard for My Solo Performance (‹ ‹hbh207 ‹)8 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HL Pictures retrieved from: ‹Proscribemd, Kopper Kreation, Health guides, 123rf, Shutterstock,NordstromFigure 6 – Summary of My Solo Performance (‹ h‹ bh207 ‹)Lee Strasberg focuses on ‹realism‹ and his aim of each performance was to get ‹full authenticity‹ in order for his audience to feel an emotional connection ‹(Strasberg, A Dream of Passion). ‹I kept the symptoms and effects of depression in my mind, making the character Emily, seem very innocent and reserved. I wanted to make her more of the victim of the lack of genuinity of others. I included multiple pauses in the script for Emily to take breaths and gather her thoughts, and also to show the difficulty of voicing her feelings. 9 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HL Excerpt from script: Fig. 7 – An annotated Excerpt From My Script (‹ ‹hbh207 ‹)10 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HL Staging Options:Staging Option 1:With this option, I would be the main focus and attention to the audience, which is beneficial because there will be undivided focus on the dialogue , however this set may be quite plain and this may give off a more staged effect rather than realistic.Staging Option 2:Figure 8: A Sketch Showing My Two Staging Options (‹ ‹hbh207 ) 11 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HL This option gives off a more realistic atmosphere with a chair and desk. Also the use of the lamp is usefulin symbolizing Emily turning on and off her emotions.Figure 9: Diary entry of feedback from the mock solo performanceAfter performing my mock, I was pleased with the feedback that I have received as it wasvery useful and reassuring. The audience really were touched by the performance which was rewarding as it showed that I was successful in getting the audience to emotionally connect to the piece which is what Strasberg’s main goal was for Method Acting. In this performance, I stayed seated the entire time with limited movement of my upper body, which was okay in the beginning but to further convey my emotions of frustration and anger, it would be helpful to 12 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HL incorporate more arm movements to exaggerate what my character is feeling at the moment, andin realistic situations people usually express themselves using hand movements and motions.Another person suggested to focus on my pauses and take more time during them. They said that whenever I would pause it would be very impactful and not only gradually elevated the piece but also they were moments that gave the audience time to think and reflect before moving on. I think that in my final performance I will incorporate more pauses within my script and do more practices in the mirror where I say something and then pause, and during that pause I can incorporate what I have learned during my research of people who are suicidal and depressed. I can do movements such as touching my neck and getting into a shrugged posture to show my lack of confidence and happiness. Additionally I was told that the moment where I did quick face mood transitions from smile to frown, was really intricate for the audience, and an advice I was given to take more time with that and make it a more significant moment, by exaggerating the facial expression and taking a long pause.CRITERION CProcess of getting into character:With Method acting, the process leading up to the performance is extremely crucial to be done correctly and focused on, before getting on stage. The week leading up to the final performance, I knew that in order for me to fully immerse into my character and depict a person who is depressed and suicidal, I needed to find that zone and dark spot in me. I proceeded to think about the sad things in life, I tried to dig up hidden emotions of remorse, and grief. To perfect the physicality of the performance, I watched video clips of suicidal people, and paid close attention to their movements, fidgeting of the leg, touching the neck. I then would make a voice note for three days before bed of the things I chose not to think about that makes me sad, which really brought out my emotional side and helped me with crying. 13 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HL Performance of the Solo Piece:After reviewing my feedback and practicing my performance repeatedly using the constructive criticism, I performed my final piece. On the stage I had a side table, a chair and a lamp. These props helped add a more realistic sense to the atmosphere because it resembled a room which relates to Strasburg’s theory of realism (Strasberg, A Dream of Passion). 14 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HL 15 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HL Person I am addressing:Throughout the performance, Emily does not give any details about why she is depressed, what she has gone through and who she is speaking to at the moment. I purposely structured the script to leave those blanks for the audience to fill in themselves with their own personal experiences. I chose to select a person in my mind to direct this to and that was me filling in the blanks, this helped me with the ‹Substitution ‹aspect as I was able to immerse and become one with the character and be in the moment. I had something to talk about from my heart which made the performance more real. However, because this performance was intended to spread a message to the audience to be genuine and stop maintaining surface level relationships, I needed the audience to feel personally impacted and affected by the piece and the words. Therefore, I 16 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HLdid not want there to be a barrier between how the audience would interpret and connect with the piece which would be in the form of labeling it to a certain form of depression or for a certain reason, and expressing feelings to a certain person. The audience was left to personally interpret and connect with the piece and scenario through completing these gaps with their own life experiences. Emily is looking at the camera throughout the piece and the camera is acting as the person she is speaking to, as in realism it is not allowed to break the fourth wall therefore she was not allowed to look directly at the audience.CRITERION DEvaluation of the Solo Piece:After my final performance, I conducted a feedback session using two methods, 1) a talk back, 2) A form:Feedback and Analysis 1: 17 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HL Feedback and Analysis 2: 18 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HL Feedback and Analysis 3: A challenge I faced throughout this process, was getting into character to portray Emily’s distraughtness and depressed state through both physically and the way I spoke. It was hard for me to show sadness and tears in front of an audience as it was my first time performing a piece with such authenticity. The use of Affective memory and Substitution played a major role in helping me get into this character and activate these emotions inside of me. I remembered the way I felt seeing my Mom in sadness and my sadness at the time. Revisiting the memories of that time really brought out the emotions in me and helped me get into character and through Affective Memory‹ I naturally did certain movements which I remember seeing and doing before.19 ‹hbh207 Solo Project Theatre HLMy intentions of this play were successfully fulfilled, and this is indicated by the audience’s response when I asked them what they felt after hearing and seeing Emily in this state. I feel as though I took a risk in writing my own piece of Theatre and performing it, especially it being realism. I have learned how to use acting to channel emotions from within me and this will be useful in my other performances. I have also learned myself how a simple question of Are you okay can go very far in helping someone in need of that comfort and care, and I feel like the audience caught onto this message successfully.20