Monday, 28 July 2008

The Daniel Hoffmann-Gill Method

Back in this post about stage presence, Matt asked "if this was the Hoffmann-Gill Method" to which I said no but it got me thinking about what my acting method is and to be honest I'd say that I don't really have one but I do have certain key beliefs that add up in their disparate forms to make some kind of acting technique.

First off, my approach to acting has changed massively and will no doubt continue to change, when younger I was obsessed with character and getting engrossed in the character and had quite a few nervous breakdowns inspired by my poor appropriation of the techniques of Stanislavski, Lee Strasberg and other Method acting practitioners.

Funnily enough, I don't even believe in characters anymore, I think there is no such thing, just words on a page that have to be conveyed as truthfully as possible to the audience to convey the author's intentions.

Indeed, I believe that the least acting you can do the better, because the performance will connect with the audience all the better if they can believe in it. That's not to say that performances have to be natural and some how everyday because humans are as grotesque, violent and amazing in their everyday existence as they ever are on a stage or in front of a camera. As long as it is truthful, you can do it and we all know that the span of human behaviour and experience is vaster than we could ever hope to imagine.

Another element I despise are actors emotionally masturbating themselves to 'become' a character (which remember, does not even exist), which is all very good for personal therapy because your mum and dad didn't love you but of little use to an audience. To quote Peter Gill: "I prefer actors who say the line the right way and not know why to actors that do it the wrong way but cleverly."

For me, good acting is all about being present, in whatever you're doing, heart and mind fully connected, fully involved; having fun out there and telling the bloody story to the people who come a long way to pay and see you act it out.

One thing I'm bad at and will use this blog to confess to, is upstaging other actors.

And I mean that in it's original term, ie: standing upstage of actors so that they have to turn upstage to face me and thus the audience see me but not the other actor. One thing I don't indulge in is trying to draw focus from other actors but playing up to the audience, this is bad form and smacks of desperate personal need and wanting to be a performing monkey.

If the audience love it, don't do it again, leave them with that moment and wanting more.

Here ends the lecture...for now...


  1. OK, so you're not going to OVER-act. That's good.

    But no reason not to upstage other actors; that's the entire point! My father was once a Broadway actor and has a great photo of him taken by a local newspaper reporter in which he's standing in between two other actors. He's blocking the face of the one on the right w/ a folded up newspaper and the other one w/ a playbill.

  2. It's all about the words - without the words you are nothing. Characterisation for some actors means adopt a lisp, limp, squint, etc. For others it means a dodgy accent. The best actors give very little, they just deliver the lines in the best way they can, but, of course, you must understand the words in the first place. Then there are the actors who don't actually have a character outside the words they are given and it is the roles they play that define them.

    With any craft, keep your tools sharp and learn your own technique - but also remember that technique will only get you so far. For that, there has to be some talent to carry you the rest of the way.

    But, of course, the words are key, they are important, so view the words through the eyes of the writer. As my old English teacher use to bleat: "There is no substitute for the text..."

    But, of course, you can take all these crafts too seriously. A play - or to play if you are a musician - is the key. play a The word play is joyous, light, easy going, a folly, a moment wilfully wasted in the pursuit of the pointless. So play on, my friend, but don't play too hard as to forget why you are playing in the first place.

  3. After the casting agents see all the phony accents, costumes and mannerisms, they are happy just to see honesty.

    I respect actors who can at a snap of a finger change character, without really emoting.

    Fringe starts this week here.

  4. M@: good story there.

    Darren: spot on, it's all about the words, the writer's done all the hard work so you don't have to.

    RE: Are you exicted about the fringe? What are you looking forward to?


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