ONE YEAR LATER: AGAIN AT THE ACTOR'S STUDIO

Jun 26, 2008


I'm finally back from Caracas and my next blog entries will be dedicated to some of my experiences in the last few weeks. I will do this in inverse chronological order. Hence, I begin with an interesting episode I lived at the beginning of this week:

A year ago I was also in Caracas and I was able to attend an Actor's Studio workshop taught by Lisa Formosa. This week I had again the privilege to coincide with this workshop in Caracas. Once again I was able to observe the wonderful teaching work of Lisa Formosa and the acting strides of the workshop's participants. Good actors, like good writers, are excellent observers who never completely trust their work as perfect. 

In this workshop, observing is a key activity. The environment is one of trust and respect, and the expectation is that participants will give their all with integrity and honesty. This workshop's goal is not performance, but exploration, both of the character and the actor that will personify that character. This simultaneous exploration is done through "the method" created by Stanislavski and established by Lee Strasberg in the Actor's Studio.

One of the central concepts is the "creative if." Creation begins when in the actor's soul and imagination appears this magical and creative "if" that allows the actor to imagine the character's practical truth with sincerity and enthusiasm. To do this, it's important that the actor asks her or himself the following about the character:

  • Who is her/him?
  • What does he/she needs?
  • What are the obstacles that impede her/him of getting what she/he needs?
It's essential to understand what the character feels at every moment and find in the actor's sensorial library something from the actor's own life that gives her/him the same feeling. It's also key to understand the difference between how the actor sees the character, and how the character sees him or herself.

These and other concepts learned are very useful for me and my studies about telenovelas  because they help me understand better the actors' craft as they give life to the characters who give telenovela audiences the mix of reality and dream that these melodramas are. 

STILL IN VENEZUELA

Jun 22, 2008











I haven't been able to write in my blog because I'm still in Venezuela. Yes, I'm still in Caracas canvassing the current moment in Venezuelan TV. I'm still conducting interviews with actors, producers, directors, writers and network executives, and observing the production of some telenovelas. I'm still in a hurry in this complex city with its ever-present traffic jams. It isn't easy to do research in Caracas.


On of the pleasures of being in Caracas is to go the theater. Here are images of three of the plays I've seen recently: Ambas Tres (Julie Restifo, Alba Roversi/Dad Dagger y Beatriz Vasquez), Juntos Pero Separados (Gledys Ibarra y Marcos Moreno) and ¿Monogamia? (Javier Vidal y Antonio Delli). Now that the sources of TV work for actors are considerably smaller, it's important to to support Venezuelan theater and film production. 

VACATION AND RESEARCH

Jun 11, 2008

My blog has been pretty quiet lately. I'm traveling. First, I spent a few days in the paradise you can see above: Margarita, a beautiful island off the coast of Venezuela. I went there with 30 of my high school girl friends. We're a very special group because we've been friends our whole lives. It's both a privilege and a blessing. Below, a couple of pictures when we went to visit the beautiful  "Ranchos de Chana".




Now I'm doing fieldwork in Caracas, trying to document the current moment in Venezuelan television as context for my new case study in which I've been working already for a couple of months. I've also taught a couple of classes as a guest at Universidad Católica Andrés Bello.

Hence, for a few more days this blog will continue to be quite quiet while I recharge my batteries and gather evidence.  Thanks for keeping me company.


This entry will be relatively short. I'm finishing Maymester, a semester in three weeks, and preparing a research trip to Caracas. Hence, I don't have a lot of time to write and this entry will be unavoidably superficial. 

Sometimes an actor, playing an antagonist role is so good, that he or she breaks the central  code of the telenovela genre, that protagonists have a happy ending. These are actors who manage to make the audience feel that it's them who should have a happy ending. I refer here to cases in which the actor, using her/his talent goes beyond the nuances that the script may have and garner the audience's preferences. Here are two current cases from Venezuelan telenovelas: 

Nohely Arteaga as Imperio Laya in Toda una Dama

This telenovela is a remake of Señora originally written by José Ignacio Cabrujas. Imperio is, without a doubt, a character that is well conceptualized and written. But, we can't deny either that Nohely Arteaga has elevated this role in such a way that there are audience members who prefer her to the protagonist,  Valeria (Cristina Dieckmann), her own daughter in the telenovela. In this case, the actor manages to elicit justification from the audience's side regarding the character's past behavior.  (See 3:31 and 7:09 in this video)





Iván Tamayo as Bayardo Santa Cruz in Torrente

In this case, the actor rises over an extremely predictable and slow script that is generally weak in character design. Tamayo builds a credible character and establishes a breathtaking "chemistry" with protagonist Ana Julia (Maritza Bustamante) (See the beginning of the video and 5:03).