Welcome to Michael’s ‘Intimate With Strangers’ Page 3
WHAT IS STYLE?
Style is the dirtiest word in the actor’s vocabulary. It belongs to critics, essayists and
historians, and fits nowhere into a creative process. It is serviceable for catalogues and
reference books. But in the act of creation, whether it be a baby or a role in a play, you
cannot predetermine style (shape, sound or form).
The many reasons behind most actors’ misunderstandings and inaccurate concern with
style have made for a chain reaction of centuries of bad acting and empty, tedious, or
just plain noisy theater. One reason is the actor’s mistrust in his own instrument or ability
to bring his own being into full play. Or he has an academic education which he is
misusing. Or he has no education and is self-consciously employing empty formulas.
A deep-rooted reason springs from the stylized productions we were taken to as children,
which conditioned us to acept the “manner” of performing certain plays. For some of us,
the conditioning is so strong that as we grow up, we neither question nor challenge
these stenciled preconceptions so that we actually come to believe that predetermined
styles for presentation are a necessary part-and-parcel of the play.
Remember that all of the labels you are familiar with (realistic, surrealistic, romantic,
satirical, farcical, tragicomic, naturalistic, classical, neo-classical, avant-garde, theater of
the absurd, theater of cruelty, etc.) were stuck onto a piece of work after it came into
existence and not before. The beat and sound of “rock and roll” was made before
someone named it. Works are categorized by observers, audiences and critics, but not
the creators. Any concern you have for the “style” will immediately place you on the
wrong side of the footlights.