Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Actors (Cont'd)

David Mamet

Lesson time 07:27 min

David tells us what he believes great actors should and shouldn't do.

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Topics include: What Actors Should Do • Ruth Draper


Actors, unfortunately, they have to be biddable, because it's part of their job to be both biddable, because you're directing them, and gracious. And they're generally very, very gracious people, you know, an actor, or anybody in show business. Not gracious is an anomaly. And it's such an anomaly that, when we see it, it becomes the-- a gossip for every-- oh my god, I can't believe what this guy did on the set. Actors need to be biddable. But the other thing that actors, I talk to actors about, they said, wait a second, we want-- sometimes like in a class or something, they said, I need to discuss this-- the script. And I said, well, OK, well, did you understand it when you read it? They said, well, yeah. And I said, OK, well, let's go do it. It's a recognition scene. Off you go. It's really not that difficult. And that's what makes it so hard, right? Stand still. Speak up. Say the words. And if you do, and pick up your cues, something will happen to you that you did not foresee. And if you don't, nothing will happen to you that you did not foresee. And if you couldn't-- if you could foresee it, the audience could, too. Our pal William Shakespeare, right, said the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players, and they have their entrance-- exits and their entrances, and each man in his time plays many parts. And so of course, it's appropriate to act in certain ways in certain circumstances, and inappropriate in other circumstances. And we all know that. And so we gauge our behavior to the circumstances. But acting on stage is a little-- it's a little bit different. Acting on stage is-- in its perfect form, is-- it has to be an attempt to get something from the other person, but it cannot be an attempt to get something from the audience, even understanding. We have to say, you're over there, I'm gonna do my job, which is getting something from him, and I trust, and it will be prove to be true, that you will give me your attention. And so people, currently, a lot of them misunderstand the purpose of the curtain call. The purpose of the curtain call is to thank the audience. That's why, traditionally, the actors at the end bowed. They said, thank you for your attention. It is not to receive praise from the audience, but to thank them. That's what Puck says, right? "If we shadows have offended, think but this, and all is mended, that you have but slumbered here while these visions did appear, and our weak and feeble theme, no more yielding than a dream. Gentles, do not reprehend if we-- if you will pardon, we will mend. Give us your hands, if we be friends and Robin shall restore amends." And then the actor would bow, saying thank you for your attention. Well, the relationship with the actors, I mean, you know, Shakespeare said you're better to have a bad epitaph than their ill report during your life. ...

About the Instructor

David Mamet sat in on a poker game full of thieves and left with the inspiration for American Buffalo. Now, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of Glengarry Glen Ross takes you through his process for turning life’s strangest moments into dramatic art. In his writing class, he’ll teach you the rules of drama, the nuances of dialogue, and the skills to develop your own voice and create your masterpiece.

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David Mamet

The Pulitzer Prize winner teaches you everything he's learned across 26 video lessons on dramatic writing.

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