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Actors and Acting: Page, Stage and Screen

ENGL 276.950
fulfills requirements:
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

We are all dazzled by the performances of certain actors, famous and not; nearly everyone has a “favorite actor,” or a favorite film or stage performance. This course will pursue the question: “How do actors do what they do?” We will explore acting theory and practice, examining major treatises on the acting process, the work of specific actors, and their relationship to iconic texts. Examples might include: “Method acting” traditions and the performances of actors such as Marlon Brando and Geraldine Page in the plays (and films) of Tennessee Williams; and “Shakespearean acting” as performed by “legends” like Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud. We will compare British and American acting traditions, and will consider the different acting “styles” associated with particular historical periods and theatrical genres. Readings will include actor interviews, reviews, biographies, and selected scripts; viewing will include representative moments of brilliant acting on film, as well as live performances on the London stage. We will also plan to converse with actors we see, through class visits or attendance at “talk-backs.”