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Character, Actor, Star: The concept of building narrative

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Without characters there could be no television narrative and not TV stars. On TV characters, actors and stars intertwin in ways that make us see the actor ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Character, Actor, Star: The concept of building narrative


1
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • I previously discussed narrative as if the
    characters were involved in a jigsaw puzzle
  • Protagonist
  • Exposition
  • Motivation
  • Enigma
  • Climax
  • Resolution

2
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • It is equally important to understand characters
    within a drama or comedy
  • Without characters there could be no television
    narrative and not TV stars
  • On TV characters, actors and stars intertwin in
    ways that make us see the actor as the character
    - look at Senfield

3
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • Building Character
  • Characters assume human form because they look
    and talk like us
  • We set aside the knowledge that theyre
    actorsthis is an act of willing suspension of
    disbelief

4
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • To view TV critically, we need to be able to
    recognized the implausibility factor - its
    Fakery
  • Critical viewers must channel this awareness of
    TVs fake constructed nature into a critique of
    how those narrative constructions operate

5
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • Fabricating character is the daily work of the
    writers, directors, producers and other
    craftpersons who make the show
  • They must create signs of characters that signify
    the character to us
  • In turn, we interpret or read these signs

6
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • There are a variety of factors that control the
    way we read the character
  • Our understanding of the world, of TV, of genre
  • The context (program) in which the character
    appears
  • The viewing situation itself (where do you watch
    TV, when, how large is the screen?)

7
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • Because there are a lot of variables involved in
    making TV shows, character construction is an
    imprecise science
  • Thus identifying the signs that signify character
    and investigating the code of character
    construction can help
  • Both producers and consumers have learned this
    code and we take it for granted

8
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • Typology of Character Signs
  • Viewer foreknowledge - advertising and promotion
    provide use with signs that signify the
    characters.
  • Once the show has been on a few weeks the
    viewers foreknowledge makes the characters
    familiar to us

9
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • Typology of Character Signs
  • Character Name signifies an identity with ethnic
    background, race, religion, unusualness (Corky in
    Murphy Brown)
  • Appearance is broken down into face, body and
    costuming. Corporeal attributes carry clear
    meanings for the viewers (shortness, baldness,
    blondness, weight, etc)

10
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • Typology of Character Signs
  • Objective Correlative - this is an object
    associated with a character and conveys something
    about him/her. (can you give ex?)
  • Dialogue - what the character says and what other
    characters say about him/her lends understanding
    of that character

11
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • Lighting and Videography (Cinematography)
  • Some of the technical aspects of filming
    contribute to our sense of character.
  • When an actor is lite from below, he/she appears
    sinister, silhouette convey a sense of mystery,
    close-ups may distort facial features. (Most
    viewers are not actively aware of technical
    manipulation)
  • Action
  • What the character does in the story determines
    what the character means to the viewer

12
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • Building Performances
  • The work of the actor in building performances is
    often difficult to isolate from other aspects of
    the character.
  • There is a bit of snobery regarding acting with
    film acting as seen as more important than
    television acting
  • Subjective terms - overacting, good acting

13
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • Typology of Performance Signs
  • The actor constructs a performance based on
  • Vocal presentation
  • Facial expression
  • Gestural movement
  • Corporeal (body elements)
  • The way a character talks or moves or smiles
    signifies how the character feels, her emotional
    state, etc

14
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • Typology of Performance Signs
  • Vocal performance - vocal qualities may be
    manipulated to create character
  • Volume
  • Pitch
  • Timbre
  • Rhythm

15
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • Typology of Performance Signs
  • Facial Performance - the way facial appearance is
    used (including hair style)
  • Gestural Performance - some are easy to
    interpret, some are not. Some gestures add to
    the quirkiness of a character (think about
    Kramer)
  • Corporeal performance - stance and bearing of an
    actors body communicates meaning to a viewer

16
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • Strategies of Performance
  • Most of the time we do not concern ourselves with
    the work of the actor to create the performance.
  • Television erases the marks of that work by
    emphasizing the characters as real rather than
    a collection of constructed behaviors
  • Our understanding is often affected by
    presumptions of how the actor came to create
    those attributes - fundamentally there are two
    approaches
  • Naturalist
  • Antinaturalist

17
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • Naturalists
  • Pantomine - the actor assembles specific gestures
    that have come to represent specific emotions or
    actions (Delsarte system)
  • Repertory - acting is seen as a process of
    selecting particular gestures. The work of the
    actor is to select gestures and dialects from
    life in the construction of characters

18
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • Naturalists
  • Method performance - encourages the actor to
    become the character. Three tactics are used to
    encourage the actor-charcter fusion
  • Emotional memory-actor draws upon previous
    emotion
  • Sense memory- remembers physical sensations
  • Improvisation - actor imagines his way into the
    mind of the character

19
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • Naturalists
  • Method performance made early incursion into
    television performance (Actors Studio)
  • In theory emotional and sense memories may be
    used to access a broad range of emotions, both
    negative and positivealthough method acting have
    typically been weighted towards darker emotions

20
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • The Antinaturalists
  • Vaudeville - a style of theatrical presentation
    build around song and dance, comedy routines,
    skits.
  • Vaudeville typically reminds the audience that it
    is watching a dramatic or comedic performance
  • Brechtian - the actor quotes the character to
    the viewer, reminding the viewer that he is
    playing a character

21
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • The Star System
  • Not everyone who appears on TV is a start. Were
    refering to actors and personalities whose
    significance extends beyond this one show (like
    people who appear on daytime talk shows)

22
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • The Star System
  • Text and Intertextuality - we now treat stars
    like we know them personally and intimately. We
    may seem them daily or weekly, read about them in
    the paper, a whole news genre has grown up around
    the daily entertainment business (ET, People, E)

23
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • The Star System
  • In this regard it is useful to think of a star
    as a text - a collection of signifiers that
    hold meaning for the viewer
  • Polysemy - they may have many meanings. For
    example, we may see the star raising money for
    flood victims relief today and out enjoying the
    high life tomorrow. Which is the real persona?

24
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
  • The Star System
  • Promotion
  • Publicity
  • Television programs ( films) build image over
    time
  • Criticism of these programs/ films (Certain
    actors are seen as serious or important)

25
Character, Actor, Star The concept of building
narrative
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