Every occupation, every profession puts its stamp on personality and on the personality of family community involved -- mental and emotional traits are established, attitudes toward self and others are set up; all find their expression or cover up in behavior patterns. Every discussion in papers should include a statement regarding:
1. Mental and emotional patterns resulting from this determining factor.
2. A description of physical and vocal patterns of behavior.
3. Your improvisations and their results. Without such statements you have not made an actor’s study.
A doctor’s manner and habits differ from a banker’s. You can recognize actors by their behavior -- how? Jackie Kennedy is like no other first lady -- will the White House change her? Influence her? Will she adjust? Dominate? Capitulate? Occupation -- money -- how do you recognize their marks? Hedda’s “genteel poverty”; what marks did it leave on her? Her father’s military career: what marks? Why? All women of the 90’s born into Hedda’s circle did not commit suicide: why Hedda?
What does it mean to be an architect? A master-architect? What ethical codes evolve? What pressures? Compulsions? Responsibilities? Pleasures? Satisfactions? Social conflicts? Variations of feeling, all the attitudes of mind, all the emotional shadings. To the actor this is of the greatest importance. The actor must be a reader of character in muscles to as great an extent as the sculptor, the painter who studies carefully the human anatomy. The actor must not only be able to see those muscle responses but must have a body flexible enough to reproduce them. His body must be trained to meet new forms and new movements quite different from his own. His own must be forgotten except as a basis for a new character. He must have eyes that see and a mind that remembers and selects and a body that is adaptable.
That which is ugly in life becomes beautiful in art -- Hedda is ugly in nature; on stage, as art, the play is beautiful. The beauty is in the truth of their presentation, in the truth of human character, in the revelation, the illumination of the meaning. In art only lies are ugly. The passion for truth is the basis of good acting.
Social position and cultural influences on behavioral traits, on mental and emotional sets.
Belle Reve and Blanche.
New Orleans and the wrong side of the tracks: Stanley
Aristocracy and Marchbanks
The gutter: Eliza
Southern aristocracy, books, music: Birdie
The wrong side of town: Regina, Ben Oscar.
Church, school events.
The causal meetings, the casual moments reveal human behavior most effectively. Patterns are set up in ordinary moments of life -- in crises these patterns are set in conflict -- concentrate on behavior -- not words -- find life models -- observe others, draw on personal experience; move on to extensification and intensification through imagination. Go back to study of smoking habits, doodling, etc. Find the doodling habits of your character. Indicating movement is the illusion of the life that the actor is creating: movement is the transition from one attitude to another (drama). It can present the whole character. No two people move alike. Nothing in nature has more character than the human body. To the trained observer -- to the audience -- that which is within is revealed through the body and its movement. The human body is the symbol of the “soul” within, the ego, the -- whatever word you can use for the inner reality of the individual -- the good actor strips off his own personal habits and adapts, assumes, assimilates the revealing traits of another human being -- he seeks the truth out of its coverings and puts it into form for the world to see -- in that the actor plunges below the surface to the meanings and later reproduces the form endowed with the spirit, he is a creator.