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Essays

LIFE AND ACTING: Techniques for the Actor

Let These New Plays Happen to You

Celebrating Uta Hagen Centennial at the HB Studio

Taking the Business of Acting Online

Mary Overlie: Original Dance Anarchist and Post-Modern Evangelist: A Tribute to Mary Overlie 1946-2020

The “Real” Illusion of Mime

Art is the Means by which We Make Ourselves Visible

Theater - A Celebration of All Life

To Think the Thought

Yat Malmgren and the Drama Centre, London

Directions for Directing: Theatre and Method

Writing for Life

Our Theatrical Mission

Strolling Player: The Life and Career of Albert Finney

A Great Reminder for Us All

by David Amram

H20 – Paintings of and About Water

A New Way of Professional Theater

“Let Thousand Flowers Blossom”

A Double Life: My Exciting Years in Theatre and Advertising

Our Theatrical Mission

As actors, writers, directors, producers and all of us who work in the theatrical world must have a theatrical conscience that tells us that it is our moral and ethical obligation as practitioners of this craft to depict and dramatize the human spirit and the soul.

We can use our capacity and abilities as artists to tell our stories in dramatic terms. The inspiration the actor and writer needs to create a character, to tell a story is right smack in front of us every day. Do we have eyes that can see and the tenacity, strength of conviction to hold a mirror up to this moment in life and reflect it to the audience?

As professional artists working in the theatrical arts, we are not just reporters, we are delivering the truth of the moment with a point of view – our message.

Herein lies our ‘theatrical mission.’ To have the ability to not only entertain but to depict and dramatize slices of life’s moments in people’s lives that are not always pleasant but controversial. This too is our mission.

When every thinking feeling actor, director writer and producer who works in the theatrical arts allow themselves to be solely inspired and motivated by what sells, by the current trends, we lose and destroy the integrity of our craft. The very fuel that enlightens, inspires and motivates us is our direct connection to the soul of the characters we dramatize, to the story we tell and the message we send.

When one reaches a certain age and has worn many hats in this craft as I have, one cannot help but form conclusions. Yet, I still believe the responsibility of the actor and those who function in this art to not be complacent, but to speak out and share one’s point of view.

Elia Kazan gave a speech to the Acting Company at Lincoln Center at its founding: “We are organizing a group of human beings to make art. Not to do business. We have not come together to sell art. We believe that the theater is not an escape from life, but part of the act of living! There is no greater preparation for a role an actor plays, a play or script a writer writes than the fuel they experience from life’s moments. To tell the truth. The soul of the actor is nourished by the truth. The truth shall be the actor’s guiding force.”

It is time to take a deep breath and go back to the roots and foundation of our art. Although we must celebrate our individualism, we must stand together in unison to fight for the integrity of the craft.

We must understand, in no uncertain terms, the meaning of the familiar and often used expression: “The play is the thing.” It’s not just a catchy phrase. It means “The play is the thing!”

It would do us all well if everyone involved in the production of a theatrical film, theater play or television drama to remind us of our true mission as dramatists. We have forgotten how powerful a mission our mission is and it’s also the audience is expecting from us. Nothing has really changed in the creative process. The craft has never changed, the business has.

When I hear industry professionals continuously say: “The business is different
now!” or ‘That was then, this is now.” I remind them that the craft of acting and the entire creative process is likened to the tail wind airline pilots refer to in flight. This tail wind is omnipresent, and omni-powerful. Consider the craft and creative process to be the tail wind.

We all live and work in this business, which is the business of “reinventing the wheel.” We are inundated with techniques of how to “make it in show business,” as well as marketing ourselves. We have made acting a competitive sport. We call auditioning: “competitive auditioning,” when in fact, great art is born out of great inspiration.

I believe the actor, director and writer artists can still function in this the era of “big business” by embracing the best in themselves, as voiced by Constantin Stanislavsky: “We are here to celebrate the human condition and the human spirit.” •2020 Written exclusively for “The Soul of the American Actor.”

VICTOR PERILLO Writer, Producer, Lecturer. A former theatrical Agent worked more than twenty years as an AFTRA/SAG, AEA agent in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. He represented the late child actor Gary Coleman, star of “Diff’rent Strokes” and “The Gary Coleman Show,” and produced his movies for NBC. He worked with Gordon Phillips on studio projects at The Actors Studio including “Marathon 33” and “The Baby Elephant.” Currently, he is in pre-production on a major film he wrote, The Lambert Chronicles,” a drama based on the collection of notes, a personal diary and dossiers kept and collected by Major Warren Lambert, US Army, Dachau War Crime Trial Judge. Mr. Perillo continues to lecture at theater departments at colleges and universities across the United States and Canada. www.vcperillo.com


"It is a law of life that man cannot live for himself alone. Extreme individualism is insanity. The world's problems are also our personal problems. Health is achieved through maintaining our personal truth in a balanced relation of love to the rest of the world. No expression is more emblematic of this relation than the creative act which we call art. No art by its very constitution typifies the social nature of that creative act more than the theatre. The theatre, to be fully understood and appreciated, must be seen as a manifestation of this process of interchange between society and the individual. It must be judged as a continuous development of groups of individuals within society, a development which becomes richer, acquires greater force and value as it grows with the society in which it originates. Only in this way can the theatre nourish us.  - Harold Clurman

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