Why Film Actors Struggle on Stage

byCharlie Sandlan

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Charlie Sandlan - Acting Coach NYC - Acting Coach in NYCRecently Shia LaBeouf was replaced in the Broadway play Orphans opposite Alec Baldwin. After the first week of rehearsals the director Daniel Sullivan and the producing team made the decision. This happens frequently to actors for any number of reasons: a clash between actors, creative differences with the director, or an inability to catch the character. This is a result driven business and the actor must be able to do one thing and one thing consistently; create behavior. Most actors indicate what is required; they “act”. These actors rarely create a truthful moment on stage or film. The actors I admire and the one’s that I train learn how to create behavior organically, from real experience. So if the character is devastated, or enraged, or overjoyed, so is the actor. This comes from a solid technique, a developed instrument, talent, and instincts.

In the role of Treat in Lyle Kessler’s Orphans, an actor is faced with a very challenging and dynamic character. Living alone with his younger brother Phillip and terrified of abandonment, Treat has convinced Phillip that the outside world is a dangerous and literally lethal place. Through manipulation, and a forceful temper, he has managed to hold on to the only family he has.Charlie Sandlan - Acting Coach NYC - Acting Coach in NYC Treat’s fear of abandonment is palpable, and his temper stems from a deep underlying pain which only surfaces when his world is turned upside down by a strange father like figure. Treat drives the emotional line of the play, and it takes an actor with a vivid instrument and great depth to create what is necessary to illuminate Kessler’s world.

To do this on stage requires a well-developed physical instrument that most film actors don’t possess. Actor’s that fall for “film training” are never really exposed to the demands that a first rate, well rounded actor must fulfill. I believe one must be trained fully as an actor and artist for the stage first. The great Harold Clurman said that a good actor needs three things: a dynamic voice, a pliable body, and a vivid temperament. Add to that great empathy and vulnerability, and you are on the way to becoming a first-rate actor. It’s much easier for actor’s who have trained and worked onstage to transition to film than vice versa. The adjustments needed for the camera are easy to learn if you have craft. A real actor can do both. They can fill a 1,200 seat theater with vivid, organic behavior, and they can be as simple as needed for the camera.

Charlie Sandlan is a well known and respected acting coach in NYC. For more info about the acting studio in NYC, call (917) 789-1599.

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