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Age of the Actor Has Long Gone

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 662
  • Category: Drama

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We have moved towards more modernised performances, but this does not necessarily mean ‘the age of the actor has long gone.’ It means audience members now expect more from the performance, rather than just rely on the actor as they did in Elizabethan times. Still in our 21st century, we would not like to go to a play whereby the actors are poor at acting likewise an Elizabethan audience would not like that either. The performance I saw has allowed me to directly compare contemporary theatre to Shakespearian theatre and showed the full limits theatre today can reach. The wide technology and new theatres built on such incredible large scales allow performances to advance to a level beyond anything an Elizabethan audience would have seen. In the contemporary play special effects were used at key scenes which helped emphasis, create an atmosphere, set the scene and mood. This allowed a contemporary audience to fully comprehend and experience the story as if they were going through it with the characters on stage.

However in an Shakespearian production characters would be using his voice alone to tell the story with very little special effects to help. In both cases the actors play vital roles, in the contemporary performance its based on acting style, facial expression and voice.. Similarly in a Shakespearian production would also have to ensure his acting techniques were on a big scale, but for a different reason; for example the noises coming from the audience, being quiet before a play was about to start was not the norm in those times, throughout a play ‘dealings’ would be taking place such as fruits being sold or prostitutes looking for work. Actor/Audience relationship is key within modern performances. In contemporary theatre use of eye contact created an intimacy, although the lighting helped us engage with this role as an actor is just as important as it was in Shakespearean theatre.

The Elizabethan audience are known as ‘Listeners’ and a contemporary audience known as ‘Observers’ these names could suggest ‘the age of the actors has long gone’ however you might say this defines that the age of the actor has ‘grown’. Certainly we view the modern audience as ‘Observers’ otherwise would not bother with the attention to detail, for example a huge scale realistic set. When observing a play although fascinated with all the amazing and wonderful stage effects, it also means you can ‘observe’ an actor in more detail where as an Elizabethan audience is more interested in the story, the voice and how it is told, this is because the globe theatre was not as ‘practically’ designed for what we want a performance to achieve today. Today in theatres, everyone has a seat whereby the have a good view of the stage, whereas in the globe not everyone had this opportunity and therefore were forced to be ‘Listeners’. This could argue that the role of the actor has become more pressurised important and harder than ever before.

Some could argue the actors roles have become more respected and understood. Respect for actors and performance were not known within a Shakespearian audience. By looking at acting space we can appreciate the move of actors roles and theatre itself. At the national theatre acting space is probably as big as audience space, this shows equality between the 2, this was not true in the globe. To conclude I believe the age of the actor has not gone but developed and has become a different role due with new expectations from the audience. The Olivier stage for example offers a chance to visually attract the audience through being able to show a range of advance realistic settings as it has the drum revolve, a large moving centre on the stage which can bring forward and push back large pieces of set. By doing so actors can act more realistically instead of exaggerating to try and get across to the audience location.

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