what actors do – from a psychologist’s standpoint

actors learning lines

Disclaimer: I’m not a psychologist any more than any other playwright is a psychologist.  The quotations in this column are all from a fascinating article by Thalia R. Goldstein, Ph.D., about Professors Helga and Anthony Noice at Elmhurst College. 

“It is by thinking about the meaning behind the words, rather than just the words themselves, that actors are able to memorize long scenes and entire plays.”

In other words, you who say you have trouble learning lines, more thinking (work smarter), less rote might be useful.

“Often a script is only the bare bones of the character’s objectives—just the lines the character will say, and the lines that others will say in response. From these bones the actor creates a nuanced portrait.”

In other words, please don’t ask the playwright to make bald, obvious statements.  Aside from boring your audience to tears, you will also bring your playwright to tears.

“All must put on a “public face.” The difference between actors and other professionals lies in the range of public faces each can wear: For the doctor, teacher, and salesman, a happy or helpful face is most appropriate. For the actor, his or her “public face” can be anything from murderous to purely innocent.”

If you need other words, well, ’nuff said.

If you’d like to read the entire article in Psychology Today, here you go.

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