This About Acting
By Anne Fielding *
In An Actor Prepares, Constantin Stanislavski
A real artist must lead a full, interesting,
varied, and exciting
life. . . . He should study the life . . . of the people who surround
We need a broad point of view to act.
My first acting training at the School of Performing Arts was based on
the Stanislavski method—a method I have enormous respect for. He says:
"We need a broad point of view to act." That is exactly what Aesthetic
Realism provides. It is broad and exact at once, Eli Siegel knows the
of self more truly than anyone in history, and he describes what selves
and actors are looking for, "People are trying to put opposites
says Siegel. Actors are also trying to put opposites together.
Aesthetic Realism says further that the purpose of
acting is to care
for the world honestly, not to escape from it. This is true about
of every period and style, and it is new in theatrical education.
I have learned that acting shows a person's desire to
become other people
as a means of becoming more oneself. Anything else is untrue to acting
and untrue to the self.
I believe that the opposites as described by Eli Siegel
and crucial from the moment we have a script in our hands, a character
in our minds, through all the rehearsals, up until the final
Even the remembrance of a performance has the opposites in it.
There are Spontaneity and Plan at every moment. An actor
has to be willing
to be surprised, even as he has a scene or an entire play carefully
out. We have to know our lines and movements and cues and inner desires,
let alone what we are doing and where we are; and at the same time we
welcome and even look for the unexpected.
Great actors have spontaneity and plan working
simultaneously. For example,
in a scene from the film On the Waterfront, Marlon Brando did
wonderfully unexpected with a glove. He is walking along with Eva Marie
Saint, interested in her, shy, but trying to appear self-assured.
the actress dropped her glove. Brando picked it up, went on talking,
as if he was unaware of what he was doing, put her small glove on his
so much larger hand. Another actor might have ignored the glove, or
picked it up and given it back to her, or even stopped the scene and
on doing it over. But Brando welcomed the unexpected, and that scene is
famous—talked of in acting classes everywhere as an example of
creative imagination. You cannot tell whether it is planned or
It is both. And it is art.
Reprinted with the permission
Press from Aesthetic Realism: We Have Been There, Six Artists on
Siegel Theory of Opposites: Definition Press, New York, 1969.
BIO, 1969: Anne Fielding has studied
Michael Howard and musical comedy with Charles Nelson Reilly. An Obie
winner, she has been seen on and off-Broadway and on television both
and in Canada. Miss Fielding appeared as Juliet in Romeo and
as Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream for the New York
Festival, and was a member of the American Shakespeare Festival for two
years. She is part of the original cast of Hamlet: Revisited. On
the faculty of the HB Studio as a teacher of musical comedy, she has
seen most recently as The Girl in The Fantasticks.