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BWW Blog: The Artist Versus the Technician


In my spring semester at SUNY New Paltz, I took Acting one, with Britanny Proia. I adored every moment of her class and learned so much from her. I grew as an actor, and many of her lessons stuck with me, but one thing she taught us stood out from all of them. Brittany always brought up this idea over and over again in our lessons. That there are two parts to a performer. There is the artist who allows you to follow your creative impulses, to really understand the character you're playing, and allows you to take risks in a show. Then there is the technician. The technician's job is to study and utilize different acting techniques. To study the script and break down the character's motivations and actions throughout the play. The technician provides foundations that are necessary to be an actor.

She continued to talk about the artist and the technician and how as an actor it is your responsibility to maintain the balance between the two, and how you must integrate the two parts into your work as an actor. If you let your artist completely take over, then you will lose yourself in the performance, and you will lose yourself as a person. In a way, the performance becomes your whole life, and it becomes all you think about it. On the opposite end of the spectrum if you let your technician completely take over then everything becomes rigid, as you try to stick to what you learn. You are not allowing yourself to have freedom and to follow your creative impulses that can create great moments on the stage.

You cannot have one without the other. They balance each other out. The technician provides a foundation for the actor, and the artist allows the actor to take those foundations and go further with it. If you have too much of one then you will not be able to achieve the performance you want.

Hearing this really changed my view on acting. We take these classes and read these books on acting to give us the tools we need to perform. We analyze our scripts and lines, thinking about tactics and motives to help us discover the character we are playing. When we have these tools in our toolbox, we can let the artist use them to create, and follow these impulses we get while performing. Both are equally important, and as actors, we need to constantly be working on both, and keeping them in balance. It is when you lose this balance is when you could lose yourself.

This was just one of the many lessons I learned from Brittany Proia, and since then I have taken a closer look at myself when I am acting. I ask myself, have I done what I need to do as the technician? Am I allowing myself room for the artist to take over when needed? Are the two of them working together right now? Is one more prominent than the other right now? Am I maintaining a balance between these two parts?

I want to challenge all of you to start viewing acting in this light and see if it helps you as it has helped me! Do you use your artist's side more than your technician? If yes then why? Do you maintain a balance between the two? Have you had moments where you let the artist or the technician completely take over? What did that feel like when that happened? Being self-aware as an actor and realizing there are many parts to the process can make you even better. I hope this information I learned helps all you fellow actors out there that might be reading this. Remember everything in life is a balance and we have to work hard to maintain that balance, be it with acting or with ourselves.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Maria Pauer