By William Ian Miller
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2003
Online Publication Date:September 2009
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511499234.017
Subjects: Political philosophy
Recall walter shandy's statement: “No matter whether [Toby] loves the service or no – being once in it – he acts as if he did; and takes every step to shew himself a man of prowess.” Walter is not just proposing a theory of love but also, by implication, a theory of acting. It says a proper actor need not feel the emotions he is portraying to portray them well; he need only act as if he felt them. It is all about adopting the outward signs – the visible postures, words, and behaviors – and getting them exactly right. Inner states will either come along for the ride or not, but that is not the actor's concern, only the justness of the visible and audible form, of playing the role as it should be played from the viewpoint of an audience. Contrast this with the view that a good actor should enter his character's psyche so as to generate the feelings the character would feel; that the best way to get the outside right is to get the inside right first. This was an actively fought battle in the eighteenth century and continues to be disputed.
Diderot and Actors
It was the philosophe and encyclopedist Denis Diderot who took the strong position that acting is about mimicking gesture, posture, expression, about external representations of feelings and motives, not about feeling. He even argued that it is better not to have the feelings should you be able to generate them.
Reference Title: Works Cited
Reference Type: bibliography