What is an actor?
The theatre is the actor, and the actor is the theatre. The actor combines in himself two entirely diﬀerent entities, –
the “artist creator” and the “material” of which he creates his works of art, in other words, – himself. In this combination lies the main diﬃculty of the actor’s profession. In order to be an actor it is not enough to possess the ﬁrst of those faculties, as I know a lot of people with reﬁned, artistic taste who could explain to perfection how a certain role should be played, and yet they would never be able to enact it. To create in an actor the ﬁrst of the above mentioned entities is
impossible, and it can’t be taught. This personality in the actor has to have 18 qualities. The ﬁrst is talent. If one has that, the other 17 do not matter. The second personality of the actor, namely, the “creative material,” is
entirely in his power and it could and should be developed. This material consists, in its turn, of two parts, the external and the inner one, both requiring a thorough study and training. The external part, – the plastique of arms, legs, and the whole body; control of every muscle of the body; strength, ﬂexibility and precision of voice; complete control of one’s nerves. The inner part is much more complicated and less known as material
for training and study. It is: the intellect the will and the emotions, – three separate parts which allow the actor to attain the chief essential in his art, the ability to “live through his role.” Only the actor who is able to “live” his part can expect to create a bit of “better life.” Only by
he learn how to The diﬀerence between an actor who “lives his parts” and one who
“imitates life” is the same as between a living person and a mechanical puppet. No matter how precise he may be, trying to copy life, if he doesn’t live through his emotions he’ll never be able to get hold of the spectator, to entrance him. He might astonish, even amaze him but he’ll never be able to penetrate into his soul, and stir it and to leave there an impression. In other words, he will not show to his spectator the “better life” but merely a “reﬂection”, an imitation of it.