Lecture: Naturalism: psychological motivation: Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in a film history class. Professor: In order to really appreciate the early films will be seeing this semester, let's talk about what was taking place in theatre just before 1900. Last week, we discussed the classical acting style in 19th century theatre. What are some characteristics of classical acting? Karen? Karen: Okay, um, classical theater. You said the actors would use conventional facial expressions and gestures to convey emotions, and that they suggest emotions more than um, display them, their voices. Um, they sound, they mimic emotions, but don't really feel them. Professor: Okay. Great! Those are some of the characteristics of classical acting. And then around the turn of the century or so, we have another style becoming popular. When we talk about actress delivering their lines with ... the psychological motivation, we're referring to naturalism. Karen: Naturalism ... so it didn't seem a staged, uh, as contrived as classical performances? Professor: Okay, lets back up. In 1896, there was an important essay written by a Danish director named William Bloch. Bloch was one of the pioneers of naturalist acting in theater. He said the actors, uh, when actors deliver their lines, they need to really say each line carefully, intentionally. That's what's meant by psychological motivation. Okay. Each line had its own life, and it deserved attention, which meant that the actors would pause after delivering a line to get ready for the next one to deliver it just right. So in preparing to play a role, they had to analyze each line carefully, which required a lot of time. Uh, so they could get an image in their mind of how the performance should be. They work to make each line just right, the right emotion for the character. And the naturalistic performance was slow and deliberate. The actors' goal was to convey a specific intention with every line. Brandon? Brandon: So the actors would actually make themselves emotional and have their personal emotions kind of guide their line delivery. Professor: Well, not exactly. The portrayal of emotion was very important in naturalistic theater. But Bloch said the actor's job was to represent the character. And this character is someone different from the actor, meaning, the characters are their own people. And it wouldn't be fair to have the actor inserting their own personal emotions into the character. Uh, yes, Carrie. Carrie: How do you get the actors to do that? To represent a character, was there some kind of special way he worked with them? Professor: Was there, uh, let's see. Before naturalism, it was pretty typical to have about three days of rehearsal to practice for a play before it open. That was the standard. Right? But with naturalistic acting, Bloch demanded at least twenty days to prepare. Plus, he talked to all the actors after rehearsals trying to, uh, sort of inspire them to really find new motivations for their acting, for their line delivery. So, with the increased number of rehearsals and the time he spent with them after rehearsals, this probably helped the actors adopt different style from what they've been used to. Anyway, there's a film that really demonstrates the contrast I'm talking about. It's a Danish film called Church and Organ. Brandon: By Bloch? Professor: No. It was by a different director, but its starred actress who was greatly influenced by Bloch though indirectly. Bloch's wife, Anne, was a very well-known naturalistic stage actress, and the actress in the movie saw an a Bloch as a role model and adopted her approach. So, if you look at the script of this movie, you'll see a lot of shifts in the characters voice and volume. Her lines had directions like almost inaudible, volume up, in despair. I mean, in a couple of minutes of dialogue, this character displays a whole range of emotions with her voice. The emotions shift abruptly, and in between these emotional shifts, the actress paused. She had to change her intention before every line. But the other actor in Church and Organ, he used a classical acting style. Even if his character was being expressive, he used an even consistent tone. In one scene, he's angry. But instead of yelling and talking faster, he just crunches his fist and then relaxes his hand again. His restrained performance and use of gesture to subtly convey meaning. Those are all associated with classical acting.