Actors illuminate the human condition — for themselves and others — by studying character (discussed in depth here: Actors: Our Modern Day Philosophers.) Stella Adler used many fields of study to inform character development, demonstrating how limitless an actor’s choices are. There’s no surprise that she would also utilize psychology.
Stella stresses that an actor must research and imagine the background of his character, which may include his social status, profession, geographic location, era, and also the character’s upbringing. Even if the playwright does not specifically write about it, an actor can build a character by creating a background in which, for example, his world view is determined by his early relationships with his parents.
In the clip below, Stella has just watched two actors play a scene from Robert Anderson’s I Never Sang for My Father, which prompts her to lecture on the nature of a character who is so self-reliant, he is “diseased,” unable to be a “whole man” because he doesn’t know how to love. Why? That’s up to the actor to decide and why Stella’s most oft quoted dictum is “Talent is in your choice.”
Click here to “like” Stella’s Facebook page for her forthcoming biography.