INTRODUCTION TO THEATRE
Why Theatre? Perhaps, that’s the
question you may ask. What has theatre to do with Animation? We all know that
Theatre is telling a story on stage with actors performing live! Isn’t it? In
Animation too, we tell a story through actors, though not through ‘real’
actors, but through actors created out of our imagination! The actors in
Animation are what we call Characters! And we need these Characters to act
well. Isn’t it? And hence, Theatre! Through Theatre, we may learn a few lessons
about acting and staging that may help us in creating a better Animation.
What is Theatre?
Theatre is a form of fine art that uses live performers or actors to present the
experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific
place, often a stage. The performers may communicate this experience to the
audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music, and dance. Other
elements of art such as painted sceneries and stagecraft such as lighting are used to enhance the theatre
costume, lighting, and sound)
6) Text or
Script (which includes focus, purpose, point of view, dramatic structure,
and dramatic characters)
1) Performers – The people
or actors presenting a story onstage through various characters are the
performers. When the actor/actress is on stage, they must be true to the
character they are portraying. The roles they are playing have to be
convincing and easy to relate to, in order to interest the audience.
2) Audience – The essence of theatre is the
interaction between the performer and audience. Theater needs to be
experienced live. The audience determines whether a production is successful,
therefore, it is very important to keep them interested in the play or
performance being staged by giving strong performances and presenting engaging
3) Director – The director
makes certain that the performers understand the text and deliver the
script efficiently. The director helps to bring all the elements together – the
actors, the stage effects and the script.
4) Theater Space- Another
necessary element of theater is the space in which performers or audiences
come together. It is essential to have a stage, or a specific area, where the
actors can perform. It is also essential to have a place for the audience
to sit or stand comfortably.
5) Design Aspects – Visual
Aspects – costumes, lighting, and some form of scenic background
Nonvisual Aspect – sound.
Text – A text or a
script is needed for theatre to be performed. One key element for writing is
‘conflict’ – the characters should have a goal to reach, for doing that they
have to go through a series of conflicts. Without conflict, the story would be
too straightforward and boring. So think on those lines as well – how can the
script be made more interesting?
Staging is the process of selecting, designing, adapting to, or
modifying the performance space for a play or film. It implies
the presentation of a film or a play in a manner that will help in narrating/performing
the story in a clear and attractive way to the intended audience. This can
include such things as positions of actors on stage (often referred to
as blocking), their gestures and movements, the scenic background, the
props and costumes, lighting, and sound effects. The first thing that the
audience of a play sees is the stage set, the physical objects that
suggest the world of the play. The stage set is usually determined or
recommended by the Playwright
who writes Plays), but the degree of detail and specificity vary from one
playwright to another and from one literary period to another. In film, staging
is generally called set dressing.
Acting is an activity in which a story is told by means of
its enactment by
an actor who adopts a character, be it in theatre, television, film, radio, or mimicry.
Acting involves a broad range of skills, including a
well-developed imagination, capacity to understand emotions, physical expressiveness, vocal
projection, clarity of speech, and the
ability to interpret drama. Acting also demands an ability to employ dialects, accents, improvisation, observation
and emulation, mime, and stage combat. Many actors train for a long
period of time in specialist programs or Acting Schools to develop these
skills. The vast majority of professional actors have undergone extensive
Rehearsal is a process in which actors prepare and practice a
performance, exploring the conflict between characters, testing
specific actions in the scene, and finding means to convey a particular sense.
Some actors continue to rehearse a scene throughout the run of a show in order
to keep the scene fresh in their minds and engaging for the audience.
5 Basic Acting Rules
Let us now learn the a few
basic rules to be followed to be a better Actor:
1. Who are you playing? What is the character that you
are playing? Know your character in detail; how he/she thinks and feels, what
is the body language that is characteristic to the role you are playing? How
the character talks; does he/she use hand movements while talking? How he/she
walks? What is the temperament of the character? Is he/she a jolly person or an
Watch performances of actors closely, in films, television and theatre. Watch
people in real life, how each person thinks and talks, watch their body language
in different situations, and yes don’t forget to watch yourself in different
situations; that’s the best ground to learn acting!
2. Where are you? Remember
to take a moment before you begin acting to establish in your imagination
exactly where you are. The environment is a crucial stimulus. It takes a brief
moment to orient yourself into the place. Without that connection it can
sometimes be very hard to see anything other than the audition room.
3. What is your relationship? You
should have a good sense of who you are speaking to and what they mean to you.
Accordingly, the various actors relate to one another.
4. What is happening? What
is the main event? What is the main essence of what is going on? Knowing this
keeps you from going off in a different direction from the scene as given in
5. Where are you coming from? This
is to be understood in both emotional and physical aspects. The actors have to
be clear how they link themselves to the previous and subsequent scenes,
otherwise they will not have a sense of direction.
6. What are you doing? Your
character is there to do something.
This something must be active, it must support your objective, and it must lead
to another thing. It must push the scene forward. Otherwise you are merely
giving words and not depicting actions.
Let us now look at another Performing Art Form that
may help us in becoming better actors and Animators- Mimicry!
In biology, we know that a mimic is any
living species that has evolved to resemble another successful species. But in
Animation, to mimic or Mimicry is the process of observing and replicating
another’s behavior, also called imitation in entertainment.
Mimic is defined as a performer who imitates a person for amusing or satirical
The movements of the head are
of vital importance in mimicry. For example,
A drooping head indicates shame and grief.
Nodding the head vertically denotes approval.
Shaking the head sideways signifies dissent.
gives the best indication of one’s intelligence and intellectual development. In
the forehead the most active and independent muscles are located, controlling
attention, doubt, reflection, pain, etc.
The eyes are capable of expressing nearly all the states of mind
and of human passion. They seem to be the most expressive of all the parts of
the body. This body part can express both noble sentiments and high spirits as
well as hate, jealousy, and other negative feelings. They are called the
mirrors of the soul since they can communicate a wide range of emotions and
The nose has a great importance in mimicry, as it is a major
element of aesthetics. In spite of the fact that it is one of the least movable
parts of the face, it helps a lot in expressing various feelings, especially
those in which, the respiratory system is involved, like when depicting anger
or agitation, or fear. The act of breathing and the expansion of the nostrils
are linked. In fear or anger, when the breathing is affected, the nostrils
become dilated or constricted. It also helps in depicting the expressions of pride,
haughtiness and arrogance. In these expressions the nose is active.
4)THE MOUTH ,LIPS, CHEEKS, CHIN AND JAW
The mouth is one of the most expressive parts of the face. The
mouth has various muscles used for chewing, for speech and song and is very
powerful in expression (especially the corners of the mouth that are raised
upwards in expressions of high spirits and fall in expressions of low spirits).
In joy, satisfaction, contentment, and other such positive
emotions, the corners of the mouth curl upwards, thus producing a smile.
In sorrow, disappointment, moral pain, fear, etc., they turn down.
The ear is of great importance in the analysis of a character, in
theatrical mimicry it is of little service to the actor. It is one of the least
expressive parts of the body, rarely movable. Therefore, all the actor should
know about the ears is in the part of make-up.
THE ARMS AND HANDS
shoulder, the forearm, and the hand, with its fingers, are the contributors to
hand gestures. Hand gestures should never be stiff or artificial, nor try to
express that which belongs purely to facial mimicry. For example,
A disappointment at a bit of news, causes the arms to drop
In anger, the closed fists are projected toward the sky or the
object of anger or hatred.
THE TRUNK AND BREATHING ACTION
The trunk is of importance in the expression of many emotions. In
fear, it instinctively contracts, as it also does in admiration. In love, it
expands, as though inclining towards the object of love; in hate, it shrinks
back. The entire trunk movements have an influence upon the breathing organs,
resulting in accelerated breathing in moments of happiness and joy; irregular
breathing in hate and anger; and in near paralysis in moments of fear and
It is not
advised to rest the body on both feet equally, for, besides creating
uncomfortable positions, the actor will find difficulty when it is necessary to
take a step forward, some-times to the extent of looking extremely ridiculous. If
the body is supported on one foot, he can readily place the other in position
when the action so requires. The feet are the principal factors in movements,
such as walking, dancing, etc.
walk should be according to the character represented and, therefore, should
have as much purpose as any other action. Although the walk should always be
natural, easy, never stiff, there are well-defined differences between the
walks to be used in comedy and in tragedy. In comedy, the walk is lively, the
steps are short, quick, swinging. In tragedy, the walk consists of
well-measured, sustained steps, heavy, long and mysterious.
Kneeling rapidly and at the same time on both feet is good only
for comic effect. To kneel with grace, it is necessary to take one step forward
and rest the body on the forward foot until the second knee touches the ground.
When picking up an object from the ground, act in the same way.
MANNER OF BEING SEATED
The manner of taking one’s seat has always been considered an
indication of good or bad breeding, even from ancient times. A well-educated
person will take his seat carefully, without crossing the feet.
People salute each other in different ways. A haughty man will
never bow first, and when answering he hardly touches his hat. A poor or modest
man bows low. A beggar takes off his hat, full of timidity, extending his hand
to receive the gift.