Action with Camera: Making the Future Audience Present
This paper—a conversation between scholar/practitioners working separately on the mediation of bodies—is an interrogation into practices of acting for stage and for camera, and the ways that practices for the theatre can be used in training actors for film. Challenging the essentializing metaphor, “acting for camera,” we engage strategies for dislocation of the sovereign seat of the director—a point of focus toward which bodies are trained and become entrained. Rather than accept habitually repeated logics of representation and the subjectivities they tend to produce, we develop practices that replace actor with player. Drawing on various inflections of the physical action from divergent Western theatrical training traditions (Stanislavski, Grotowski, and Brecht), we have developed strategies for actors and a framework for thinking about what “works” for the camera and what doesn’t. These strategies pull the camera into practice and process as an active player rather than seating it as an apparatus of capture to be coped with by a performer on one side and a director/crew on the other. The player plays with the camera rather than for a future audience it represents. Much of the paper draws from workshops where we used theatrical devising techniques and games with filmmakers and actors. We take as a given that most actors-in-training in the West already have a relationship to camera that brings along habits, ways of seeing, and entanglements that require examination as part of rehearsal and performance processes. We pull the camera into the making process, not as a capture device or a stand-in for a future audience, nor as “content,” but as one of the elements of mise-en-scène and the games that players use to produce it. Actors become filmmakers and vice versa. The processes we found emerging unsettled the habitual narrativizations arising from the actor-filmmaker-editor continuum.
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