The Actor and Characters

Organized by Dr. Kiki Selioni, Post-doc Researcher at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (as part of her research Biophysical Acting), Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, Labanarium, and MCF (Michael Cacoyannis Foundation) and hosted by LMTA, Vilnius, Lithuania

Conference Venue: LMTA, Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre.

Following the successful conferences held July 2018 in Athens, in March 2019 in Copenhagen, in June 2019 in Paris and the upcoming Conference in July Athens, Post-doctoral Researcher Dr. Kiki Selioni, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, LMTA, Labanarium and MCF have taken the initiative to organize the fifth event in Vilnius. The aim is to create a series of international events to meet colleagues, practitioners and researchers, to share experiences, knowledge and current research practices in the field of actor-training and performance practices.The final goal is to create an international network to exchange dialogues of the arising challenges of the 21st century academies, institutions, as well as the arts industry.

The Actor and Characters

One of the main questions for an Actor, is in what way he can build the character he wants to present. For this reason, we have a great number of methods that address the problem. What is a common knowledge is that Stanislavsky first offered a method of creating a character as in his book Building a Character. Definitely, this is the first complete written method, although one can find principles in Aristotle’s Poetics or in Lucian’s book Peri Orcheseos. After Stanislavsky, a lot of well known methods (Adler, Strasberg, View Points, Malgreen, etc), are used by institutions and practitioners for creating the character. Some methods create the character based on actor’s personality. Vladimir Mirodan in his book The Actor and the Character notes and quotes:

I therefore start from the premise that can and should be considered as ‘other’ than the actor. As Michael Chekhov once wrote: ‘it is a crime to chain and imprison an actor within the limits of his so called ‘personality’ thus making him an enslaved laborer than an artist’. Mirodan (2019: 3).

However, the issue must be addressed in a slightly different way. Namely, how to create different characters. Actually, we are dealing with the art of transformation of actor to ‘others’. If the art of acting is the art of transformation of actor, so a method of building a character must provide the ability of being more than one character.

Stanislavsky in his book Building a Character admits that the actors must have skills and special abilities for acting a certain character. Because if you do not use your body, your voice, a manner of speaking, walking, moving, if you do not find a form of characterization that corresponds to the image, you probably cannot convey to others, its inner living spirit. (Stanislavsky 1949: 5).

The questions arise are:

  • What are the abilities that an actor must possess before playing different characters?
  • Isn’t this question the main issue of characterization, namely the synthesis of the character?
  • What are the main principles for building characters?