The Travis Technique – What is acting? What is directing?

We are now beginning the journey of regular (going for daily) blogs on The Travis Technique. For those of you who don’t know: The Travis Technique is a revolutionary (yet grounded in tradition) way of Directing Actors. In my book, Directing Feature Films you will find the chapter “No More Acting, No More Directing”. And what this is referring to is the simple concept that ‘acting is pretending’ and ‘directing is demanding and controlling’. And it is time to stop this behavior if we are to approach anything resembling authentic human behavior on the screen or on the stage. Whether you are a first time director or a seasoned professional, you know that the most important and the most difficult aspect of directing a feature film .. or even directing a short film .. or directing a play is Directing Actors. How do you ‘direct’ someone who is attempting to morph themselves into the truth and reality of another human being?

Here are some question, and important ones.
For the actors:
– Can you actually consciously change yourself into becoming another person? Isn’t it possible that the very nature of this process (making conscious choices for the other character) defeats the intention?
And for the directors:
– Do you think it is possible to make requests, or demands or suggestions to (of) an actor while he/she is in the process of merging into this new character in such a way that you are not impeding the process of discovering the character?

Whenever I find myself in these philosophical dilemmas I have learned that the best thing to do is to take several steps backwards. For some reason, plowing forward into the unknown often leads to assumptions and misunderstandings that only add to the confusion.

So, in light of that, let’s ask this question. What is acting? What is directing? What are our goals as we employ these tools and skills in the attempt to tell our stories on stage and screen? And I can think of no better place at the moment to go than my old friend (a friend only in the fact that when I read him I feel like I know him) Constantin Stanislavski.

In tomorrow’s blog we will let him speak to us, hoping that he can shed some light on this dilemma.

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One Response to The Travis Technique – What is acting? What is directing?

  1. Ralph Willmann says:

    As an actor I can say, that it makes a big difference if you act on stage or in front of a camera. On stage you can dive into the character and let yourself take away and all the patterns that you’ve established during the rehearsal help. But when you work with the camera you have to be aware of so many things besides your acting and on top of this you shoot in takes instead of playing act one and two.
    Acting on stage I would say that it is possible which doesn’t mean that it is impossible to do so in front of the camera but it is much more difficult.

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