Theatre Speak from All Tickets the Words on Acting

  • March 27, 2013
Stanislavski's An Actor Prepares was published in 1936.

Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares was published in 1936.

All Tickets Inc., which offers Broadway groups great discounts and special comp ticket promos, offers another edition of Theatre Speak. Those in the theatre have their own way of talking. Some of it is slang, some of it is technical and some is related to skills and art. Here’s a look at some more Method acting terms. When you offer any of these terms to someone who has been trained in this system, they will instantly know what you are talking about.

Emotional Recall

The idea behind emotional recall is pretty basic. If you have experienced an emotion it is buried inside of you and you can access it. This is useful when you’re in a scene and have to make the emotion real. Thus, in rehearsal, when an actor is playing a scene they remember a time in life that they felt a particular emotion and bring the feeling back, attaching it to the moment in the scene.

Sense Memory

With sense memory, the actor is remembering a specific sensory experience and using that on stage. A basic example would be that actor has to lift a heavy box on stage. The box will not actually be heavy. It is the actor’s job to give the box weight by remembering what muscles would be involved in lifting a heavy box and recreating how they would do it.

The Magic If

The Magic If is a useful tool for actors to utilize. In fact, many actors swear by it. The Magic If is used to open up an actor’s imagination and offer them character choices about which they may not normally think. As an example, let’s say you’re playing a male character who has a problem with women. He can’t seem to keep a relationship going. Perhaps there’s very little in the script about his mother. The actor may use a “What if” here, asking something like, “What If my character thought his mother was perfect?” That question might help the actor start to figure out why his character’s life is the way it is.

The Actors Studio back in the day.

The Actors Studio back in the day.

Training and Hard Work

Acting is not an easy profession. It takes a lot of training to become an actor and then there’s a lot of auditioning to get to the point where you’re actually working and making money. The Method is just one aspect of actor training. Many actors also train as singers, physical actors, dancers and in many other ways. Next time you’re watching a Broadway show and you think, “Wow, acting looks so easy,” it’s not. The actor has made it look that way through years of training and experience.

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