The Makings of the Actor

Hosted by Michael Cacoyannis  Foundation

Post-doctoral Researcher Dr Kiki Selioni, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Labanarium and MCF have taken the initiative to organize a Conference in Athens. The conference The Makings of the Actor aims to offer a platform to dialogue about the skills and knowledge necessary to develop the contemporary actor. The Conference will be the pilot event towards the establishment of the International Centre for Actor’s training that will officially open the next year 2020 in Athens supported by many institutions. Its mission is to gather international practitioners and researchers to discuss the needs of contemporary performance practice through Conferences, performances, and workshops taking place internationally.

Towards Contemporary Acting Techniques, Practices & Methodologies

The conference takes as its points of departure Duncan Ross provocations that there is still a need for a comprehensive actor training.

Duncan Ross (1968), British actor and one of the well-knowing acting teacher, in his paper Towards an Organic Approach to Actor Training A Criticism of the Stanislavski Scheme points out that there is no actual acting method and what have been exploring in the history of acting is only the structure of the character and the analysis of the text. Duncan puts a crucial issue on the table mentioning that still there is no such thing as an acting method that deals with the interpretative art of acting:

The most important topic for actor training, by the general consensus of the panel at this conference, seemed to be the problem of “integration:” how should the bodily skills be combined with work on imagination, textual analysis, etc., etc. A more comprehensive question was only touched, the problem of style: the direct and all-pervasive influence of the individual author’s form on the actor’s creation of a role. But what never reached discussion was the consideration of how to teach acting which has the quality of spontaneity, no matter how formalized the structure of the dramatic text. In the opinion of the writer, this is the prime topic from which the others depend (Ross 1968: 258).

Duncan considers that there is a lack of certain training for acting, although for him the theatre world has now all ‘the sufficient knowledge’. Duncan notices that there is a solution to that question:

Lastly, it is a frequent observation that outstandingly talented actors seem to operate in a different way from the general body of performers. It is the writer’s belief that teaching theory must account coherently for this achievement. An attitude of mystic reverence for “talent” is no answer. Either we must teach how these actors do, or we are not teaching the subject (Duncan 1968: 258-259).

Ross Prior in his book Teaching Actors published in 2012 puts the same questions as Duncan Ross. The need to reconsider the actor’s training as well as how actor’s teachers should be trained (Prior 2012: xi). Benedetti admits, like Ross and Prior, at the end of his book The Art of the Actor in 2005 that there is no any research attempt for specific training method for actors that is universally recognized (Benedetti 2005: 233). Mark Evans (2015) in his book The Actor Training Reader questions ‘how to train for a global performance economy and in response to global challenges to the nature of theatre and performance’ (Evans 2015: xxx). Zarrilli, Sasitharan, and Kapur (2016) discuss the same issue in their recent article in the edition of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training on ‘intercultural’ acting and actor/performer training:

Contrary to the between-ness of our global realities, the vast majority of professional/conservatory-based training programmes in Europe, the UK, US, and Australia with a few exceptions have not yet embraced these multi-, inter-, intra-cultural realities in their structure or pedagogical practice. Assumptions about what acting ‘is’ continue to be shaped by conventional modes, models, techniques, and structures that often resist both critical and/or creative self-examination (Zarrilli, Sasitharan and Kapur, 2016: 336).

The conference wants to address these perspectives and invites contributions addressing the following questions:

  • what constitutes outstanding acting?
  • The role of ‘talent’ in acting training
  • How to train skills and dexterity
  • How do we train and teach to reach all of the above

Our main goal is to open the discussion about this crucial issue of how to develop an actor today and to open a platform where for the first time we can as practitioners discuss our practices in order to create a community that can reach solutions.