Sunday, March 04, 2007


Last semester I took my very first acting class, "Acting for Animators". Why is an acting class in the curriculum of an animation program? In an animated feature film, there are voice actors such as Mike Myers providing the voice for Shrek or Tom Hanks providing the voice for Woody. But they only provide half the performance. The physical performance, what you actually see on the screen, is not the work of the Hanks or Myers but of the animator. Therefore in production, the animator is considered the actor and often times will study acting to reference physicalities they can incorporate into the animation.

I really enjoyed the class. It really pushed us to act physically: touch, push, pull, punch, shove, grab. Reactions then come more naturally and spontaneously. One handout reading assignment was a chapter from a book called "Impro - Improvisation and the Theatre" by Keith Johnstone. The book was mainly about improvisation acting but had a lot to say about storytelling and learning. The handout was the chapter on Status and it was fascinating. Many comedy routines that improv actors can utilitize are about shifts in high and low status between the characters. I liked reading this chapter so much I checked the book out of the school library. It's an excellent read. If you're an actor, it's a must read, but it's also essential for storytellers.

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