In one of his most celebrated statements on the nature of theatrical art, British director, playwrite and student of theatre Peter Brook, suggests that acting has to do with a tiny quiver inside one's body. This notion leads him to give us some extremely important advise on the nature of theatrical art. The following quotation comes from the chaper "The Immediate Space" in Brook's "The Empty Space," published in 1972 by Pelican Books.
"Acting begins with a tiny inner movement so slight that it is almost completely invisible. We see this when we compare film and stage acting: a good stage actor can act in films, not necessarily vice versa. What happens? I make a proposition to an actor's imagination such as, 'She is leaving you.' At this moment deep in him a subtle movement occurs. Not only in actors. The movement occurs in anyone, but in most non-actors the movement is too slight to manifest itself in any way: the actor is a more sensitive instrument and in him the tremor is detected. In the cinema the great magnifier, the lens, describes this to the film that notes it down, so for the cinema the first flicker is all. In early theatre rehearsals, the impulse may get no further than a flicker--even if the actor wishes to amplify it, all sorts of extraneous psychic psychological tensions can intervene--then the current is short-circuited, earthed. For this flicker to pass into the whole organism, a total relaxation must be there, either god-given or brought about by work. This, in short, is what rehearsals are all about. In this way actors are mediumistic: the idea suddenly envelops the whole in an act of possession: in Grotowski's terminology the actors are 'penetrated'--penetrated by themselves. In very young actors, the obstacles are sometimes very elastic, penetration can happen with surprising ease and they can give subtle and complex encarnations that are the despair of those who have evolved their skill over years. Yet later, with success and experience, the same young actors build up their barriers to themselves."
Our comment: The acting experience subjects us to a world that goes beyond the one we know. Everything is different. When we improvise we take possession of a (usually) empty space. We invent characters, bring them to life; we imagine places, perhaps castles or offices or beaches where we have never been. We do things we probably would never do in real life. We are allowed to use our voices in sharp contrast to the way we do so outside the rehearsal room. Instead of fretting and stewing about "what is correct" we set about constructing something believable. And we do it together. What we do depends to a great extent on what our companions do because theatre is a social game. When we think we can't do it, someone claps and praises us for how well we have acted. We think we know how to act and we stumble along as if we were blind, as if we had attempted acting for the first time. Then, as Brook so nicely puts it, "a tiny inner movement" begins...and we are on our way!