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Huh? Theatre? The Basics! (Part 1)

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Intro ( MOV )   ::   Performing   ::   Theatre?   ::   Genres   ::   Tragedy!   ::   Activities

Performing/Not Performing

Okay, imagine you're at the mall. It's Christmas time. Look! There is Santa Claus, holding a drooling kid on his lap and saying "Ho, ho, ho!" Is he acting (Santa Claus—not the kid)?
Sure he is, you say. Cool.

Now imagine that you're going to the toy store at the mall to get a whizbang for your nephew. As you pass by the coffee shop, you peek in and notice that "Santa Claus" is now seated at a table, having a cup of coffee and reading the paper. He is still dressed like Santa, but he has no kids on his lap. In fact, except for the beard and clothes, he looks like a normal guy. Is he acting?
Okay, some say he is, and some say he isn't. Let's go a step further.

Now you're walking out of the mall, and there is that same guy, but this time, he only has his Santa hat on. He is ringing a bell and calling for everyone to put money in the Salvation Army bucket. Is he acting?
Whadaya mean you don't know? How can you tell if someone is acting? Costume? Attitude? "Becoming" another character in some way?

Let's be really weird now...
You are at a performance. Out comes a guy dressed all in black. He just stands there. A sign drops from above with an arrow that points to him that says "This is Santa." Is the guy acting now?
He now goes to a box that is on the stage and grabs a Santa hat. He puts it on. Is he acting now?
Suddenly he walks up to the front of the stage and he says in his normal voice, "Ho, ho, ho. I'm Santa Claus." Is he acting?

"Performing/Not Performing"

Simply define a performance. When is an actor acting? Can one "act" as oneself? What are the elements of performance that separate it from other modes of living and interacting?


I hope these have been difficult questions. I know I have not answered them to my satisfaction, and I have a PhD in Theatre! But I hope that you have considered just what makes a performance a performance. As we go through this course, I want you to realize that we "act" and "interact" with people all of the time. Sometimes our acting is blatant. Sometimes it is subtle. But we act every day of our lives.

Grab a ball and start juggling! You're on Candid Camera!

Copyright 2008, David Sidwell. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, October 06). Huh? Theatre? The Basics! (Part 1). Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License