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Acting in Plays, Singing/Movies (Films) v/s Dramas (Theatre Plays).


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Theatre Plays  
QUESTION: Dear J.Spyder

which according to you for an artist is a more challenging role to portrait i.e In Movies  or Plays (Dramas) ?.

Is it not always the Plays or Dramas because In Plays (Dramas), the artist has to perform live before the audience ?

Example :

There is a Movie "Romeo and Juliet" - 2 hours duration.
There is also a Play "Romeo and Juliet" - 2 hours duration.

Now the artist who has portrait the role of Romeo in both is common. i.e Same Artist has acted in both the Movie as well as
in the Drama.

Is it possible that An Artist who is acting in both Movies as well as in Plays may or may not be successful in one of them ?
i.e. Audience have appreciated his/her acting skills in Movies but not in Plays or vice versa.

if that is the above case what could be the reasons ?. Script,
Co stars, Direction, Music, Environment etc

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

ANSWER: Thank you for an interesting and highly detailed question, and my apologies for taking so long to answer - life is what happens when you're making other plans, and all that.

The problem in answering your question is that both movies and stage plays have their own particular set of challenges for an actor. Yes, performing live before an audience is always a challenge, and especially if you want to make sure each performance is consistent. However, film acting is also challenging for different reasons. One of the biggest of these is that the camera can pick up nuances that an audience is too far away from the actor to notice. Also, filming schedules are very physically grueling - 12 hour days are not uncommon, and sometimes they extend into 16 hours - while it is a stage rehearsal will not usually run any longer than about 5 or 6 hours at the most, and even those are quite rare.

You are also absolutely right that an actor can be successful in movies but not in plays and vice versa. There's a classic line in the movie "My Favorite Year" where Peter O'Toole is told he will have to perform in front of a live audience and his response is "I'm not an actor, I'm a movie star!"  Some actors thrive under the intense scrutiny and live emotional feedback of an audience while others can play to a camera or three but not to the much larger focus of an audience of 200-1,000. Also, some actors can work better with theatrical directors than with movie directors, or have a problem working well with particular actors. The truth is that there are just about as many reasons for an actor not doing well in a particular type of performance (live or filmed) as there are actors. Lastly, sometimes it's simply a question of preference - some actors hate film or hate the stage.

From my own personal perspective, I much prefer stage acting to film acting as I can get an immediate emotional response from the live audience that I can't get in front of a camera.

Let me know if you have any additional questions!

-- Spyder

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear J. Spyder

Thank you.

Do you agree on this point mentioned below ?

In Dramas (Plays), since there is a live performance on the stage before the audience, if specific dialogue lines are not able to recollect by the artist, this can cause a problem during the live stage show, while in movies (films), there is a liberty given to the artists to retake shots if the director do not find it convincing. This could be a major advantage to artists performing in movies over stage dramas ?

Do the above problem can be solved by rehearsals in stage shows ?

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

This question is a much simpler one to answer, since the answer is yes.

Actors "going up" on (forgetting) lines is a very real danger in live stage performances. It can sometimes severely impact how successful the performance is. In fact, it is so potentially dangerous that a large part of learning stage acting techniques is learning how to "cover" for another actor who has forgotten their line, so that the performance can continue without obvious interruption. Further, this is one reason not only for continued rehearsals, but for a point in the typical rehearsal process where the actors are expected to be "off book" - that is, they can no longer refer to their scripts and, at a slightly further point, cannot ask for help with a forgotten line. They must rely on their own professionalism and memory, and the help of their fellow actors if they *really* get stuck.

Likewise, you are correct about the difference in this between stage and film work. In film, if you forget or flub a line you can simply reshoot the scene ... and use the footage of the flub in the "blooper" reel. However, film and time are both quite expensive, so the less this happens, the better.

This happens at all levels of stage theatre, by the way. I was recently in a professional production of a classic stage comedy and one of the actors in performance "went up" on her line. Fortunately, I was able to improvise a quick, brief hint to her that got us right back on track with the audience being unaware that anything had gone wrong.

-- Spyder

Acting in Plays, Singing

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J. Spyder Isaacson


Especially the Seattle theatre scene. Seattle is the number two theatre city of the nation, having more theatres than any other city (including Chicago!) except New York. I know the reputations of most of the local theatres, have worked with quite a number of them, and am currently earning the majority of my livelihood through live theatre. Beyond that, I have been a working professional for the past 10 years (after a long career in an unrelated field), have done just about everything in the field, and have done every possible type of theatre. Currently, I am also pursuing a new (and unexpected!) career as an animated film producer. (PLEASE NOTE that I am NOT an expert in music!) ***DO NOT*** ASK ME QUESTIONS REGARDING AUDITION SONGS OR MONOLOGUES - the answers require way too much information to be passed along by the All Experts system.


I have been an award-winning actor, singer, playwright, director and administrator (on various levels, all categories) for the past 30 years. A large part of my expertise has been with live theatre, although I do have a minor connection to filmed theater. I have done musicals, straight dramas, straight comedies, and experimental theatre.

Theatre Puget Sound Magical Mystery Troupe Centerstage Theatre Conservatory Board of Trustees (former) Express-Theatre Northwest (former) Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theater

Unrelated trade publications

B.A. in Theatre Arts, Gonzaga University M.Ed. in Education and Technology, Western Governor's University (in progress)

Awards and Honors
Mutiple awards (ask for specifics), Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival Valley Community Players, Best Supporting Actor

Past/Present Clients
C's Animation Studio Productions, LLC

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