Seventeenth Century Natural Acting Essay

939 words - 4 pages

Seventeenth Century Natural Acting

As we read through the standard accounts of seventeenth-century acting, observers display the same desire to believe in the fictions of the actors as their twentieth-century counterparts. Webster said of "An Excellent Actor" that "what we see him personate, we think truly done before us" ("An Excellent Actor," 1615, in Overbury's The Wife) An anonymous elegy on the death of the famous actor Richard Burbage (d.1619) recalls,

Oft have I seen him leap into a grave
Suiting the person (which he seemed to have)
Of a sad lover, with so true an eye
That then I would have sworn he meant to die:
So lively, the spectators, and the rest
Of his sad crew, while he but seemed to bleed,
Amazed thought that he had died indeed.

Like spectators today, the Jacobean spectators had strong ideas about what constituted "good acting." Thomas Heywood notes that good looks, combined with type casting, are important: "actors should be men pick'd out personable, according to the parts they present" (An Apology for Actors 1612). In the fictional acting lesson in The Return from Parnassus, Part II (c. 1601-03), the Burbage character remarks to his student, "I like your face, and the proportion of your body for Richard the Third ... let me see you act a little of it." Shakespeare's Peter Quince and Holofernes go in for similar methods of casting in their amateur theatricals.

Rhetoric and vocal virtuosity were also admired. Hamlet advises that the players speak "trippingly on the tongue" (Hamlet, III.2, c. 1603), and Heywood adds that the actor should observe the structure of his texts, "and with judgment to observe his commas, colons, and full points; his parentheses, his breathing spaces, and distinctions" (ibid.). Noting that actors are not necessarily scholars, Heywood wryly comments that they "should have that volubility that they can speak well, though they understand not what."

Facial expression was considered a part of rhetorical skill. Heywood advises the actor

to keep a decorum in his countenance, neither to grown when he should smile, nor to make unseemly and disguised faces in the delivery of his words; not to stare with his eyes, draw awry his mouth, confound his voice in the hollow of his throat, nor tear his words hastily betwixt his teeth. (ibid.)

Hamlet observes a more successful example of this facial eloquence in the Player, who

Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That, from her working, all his visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit . . . (II.2)

"Action" was the third basic component of acting. Heywood...

Find Another Essay On Seventeenth Century Natural Acting

Examination of Women's Friendships through an Analysis of Katherine Philips' Friendship's Mystery

4274 words - 17 pages Examination of Women's Friendships through an Analysis of Katherine Philips' Friendship's Mystery: To My Dearest Lucasia When readers reflect on the poetry of the seventeenth century, poets such as John Donne and the Metaphysicals, Jonson and the Cavaliers, and John Milton often come to mind. The poetry crosses over various boundaries of Neoplatonic, Ovidian, and Petrarchan forms, for example, often with many references

Melodrama: how melodrama has changed from the influences of "A Touch Of Silk" by Betty Rowland and "The Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll" By Ray Lawler.

986 words - 4 pages Betty Roland was written in 1928, Australian drama was very melodramatic.The Touch of Silk overtly draws on some of the dramatic conventions of 19th century melodrama, but Roland tried to steer away from melodrama and instead has based The Touch of Silk on naturalism.Every act of melodrama concludes with a climax, leaving the audience, which was usually the illiterate commoners, hanging on for the resolution.People were now smarter because Public

Property in Second Treatise of Civil Government and Robinson Crusoe

2557 words - 10 pages natural to associate political authority with property during the seventeenth century, Locke's theory of property was "seated with a view to politics" (Harris 226; Larkin 57). His Treatise of Civil Government was written after the civil war of 1642 (Larkin 57). Referring to property as that which individuals have "in themselves, and also in goods," Locke expressed the view that "the supreme power cannot take from any man any part of his property

The World at the Time of Sir Isaac Newton

2407 words - 10 pages When most people hear the name Isaac Newton, they think of various laws of physics and the story of the apple falling from the tree; in addition, some may even think of him as the inventor of calculus. However, there was much more to Newton’s life which was in part molded by the happenings around the world. The seventeenth century was a time of great upheaval and change around the world. The tumultuousness of this era was due mostly to

Unlocking the Secrets of the Universe

1726 words - 7 pages scientific method and what is commonly considered to be the king of the sciences, Physics. The effects of energy on the physical world are of great interest to Physicists. The scientific method was developed during the seventeenth century. It is based on collaborative efforts of the great scientists and mathematicians who lived during that period such as Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilee, Johannes Kepler, and Rene’ Descartes. These men realized that

The Plagues of Colonial Life

1175 words - 5 pages climate played into the social conditions of early colonists is truly a story for the ages. Whether people were seeking land, religious freedom, or money and profits, everyone worked to a certain extent just to survive, let alone thrive, in the wilderness that was North America at that time. Surviving anywhere south of New England was a major challenge for the colonists in the seventeenth century in part due to the overwhelming majority of men in

Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll Essay

1476 words - 6 pages Summer Of The Seventeenth doll has been regarded as both a masterpiece and as a turning point in Australian history. It has boosted Australian theatre to another level and genre of performance that Australian theatre would not have been able to achieve alone. The doll managed to astound audiences by its distinctiveness. It managed to explore situations and aspects that the audience had never before entered. It was stylistically new and different

From Aristotle to Newton: The Development of Modern Physics

1869 words - 7 pages In the fourth century, Aristotle developed the first systematic set of ideas to describe the natural world, often referred to as Aristotelian physics. In his research, Aristotle made many discoveries dealing with the dynamics of motion. He believed that the natural motion of an object was primarily determined by the nature of the substance that made up the object, in terms of the four basic elements: earth, air, fire and water. Therefore, a

apeuroessay

5781 words - 23 pages seventeenth century, the focus of Europe had shifted north." Assess the validity of the statement above with reference to economic and political developments in this period.'92: Analyze the changes in the European economy from about 1450 to 1700 brought about by the voyages of exploration and colonization. Give specific examples.'97: Focusing on the period before 1600, describe and analyze the cultural and economic interactions between Europe and

Moral status

1696 words - 7 pages possesses making us all equal: the capacity to reason.Moral equality is a concept that came about in the Eighteenth century. Before then, many people believed that human beings were unequal by nature; thus there existed a natural human hierarchy. This idea was overridden by the introduction of the idea of natural right and its assumption of an equality of natural order among all human beings. The fact that everyone deserved the same dignity and

The Last Man and the Plague of Empire

1258 words - 5 pages your sturdy sons, And load them down with whisky And Testaments and guns. Throw in a few diseases To spread in tropic climes, For there the healthy niggers Are quite behind the times. (New York Times Feb. 15, 1899 1-8)   In his chapter on The Tempest in Learning to Curse, Stephen Greenblatt reveals that the seventeenth-century Hurons similarly felt the white man accountable for the pestilence

Similar Essays

Social And Economic Development In Colonial Virginia In The 1600's

500 words - 2 pages The seventeenth century marked the start of great colonization and immigration to the New World that was North America. Mainly in on the eastern coast of what is now the United States, England established colonies on this new land to thrive socially and economically. The English government readily sent its citizens to America to exploit its abundant source of raw materials and the English people exponentially came to the colonies to start a new

Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll Research Paper. Bush And City Theme.

1178 words - 5 pages The concept of dramatic realism operates within Summer of the Seventeenth Doll through aspects such as the use of slang, language, set, costume approximates real life, natural language rhythms, relevance to society of that era, etc.Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is set in the 1950s, which was a crucial period in the development of the Australian identity. It was a time of post-war reconstruction and immigration, of materialism, a wool boom, of

Aphra Behn's Oroonoko As The First Modern Novel

1313 words - 5 pages lips that were natural to most Negroes. (Behn 80-81)   Furthermore, the female narrator present is yet another uncanny character in Oroonoko because influencial women were not typically presented in literature in the seventeenth century.  Janet Todd describes the narrator as, "a watcher and a listener, a recipient of gossip and news, commonsensical in her comments, but not omniscient and not able to deliver poetic justice in a place of

John Locke: The Father Of Liberty

3852 words - 15 pages The seventeenth century was a difficult time in England. Intense intellectual ferment surged out of the Enlightenment, a turning point in history that ushered in the contemporary age. Ripple effects from previous, bloody religious reforms threatened further persecution, fanaticism, and death between Protestants, Catholics, and Puritans. After the reigns of absolute monarchs James II and Charles I, the public broke out in civil war and overthrew