Recently chatting with an actor in the UK, he told me some of his actor friends actually “brag” about the fact that they don’t practice their craft. That would be akin to a painter not sketching; a musician not practicing his instrument; a ballerina not dancing in the studio when she isn’t onstage.
In my last post I wrote: “Acting, like no other profession—not doctors, athletes, and certainly not writers—have to use all three components in their work: the physical, mental, and spiritual.” You can read about my reasoning here. My caveat, however, of the thesis that acting is one of the most difficult professions is that not all actors actually put their body, mind, and spirit into their work as, Stella Adler would say, is their responsibility.
Stella used to lament the fact that American actors would study acting and then go off and audition and try to make a career, and stop studying. She thought of acting as a life-long practice wherein the actor continues to train his or her voice, honor his instrument (his body), and study (characters, scenes, playwrights) to learn more about himself and his role in the world.
Stella said, “All of us have a role in improving the world.” But she believed actors, more than others, had a responsibility through their art to enlighten. Her view of actors as aristocrats came from this belief. She lifted the actor to nobility. She instilled in her students a sense of tradition and reverence. I fear much of that has been lost on the contemporary actor. What are your views?