DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEATRE AND FILM ACTING | STAGE VS SCREEN: 5 KEY DIFFERENCES YOU NEED TO KNOW


Hello and welcome back to my channel, or if
this is your very first time here, hi and welcome. Today, I am going to talk about a question
that gets asked a bit, and that question is, what is the real difference between theatre
and film acting? So, I want to just break it down into sort
of five main points that is really going to help you determine the differences of what
you need to do, whether you’re on stage versus on camera. Number one, the biggest difference for me
anyway, a huge one, is the amount of rehearsal time you get and sort of the precision of
the performance, so where with most plays and musicals, you will get weeks, sometimes,
a couple of months to rehearse and get the performance just right, and I’m talking very
technically specific. I mean this is especially true for musicals
but also even plays that have a lot of props, a lot of moving pieces. You have to be on the exact mark doing your
exact action on this beat, or it could actually be dangerous, and the other thing is the rest
of the cast are relying on you to do that to, so that this happens and this happens
and this happens. So, physically, it can be more mechanical
than being on screen. That said, on screen, you’ve got the issue
of continuity. Because you are doing multiple shots from
different angles, you have to actually make sure that you are precise to a point of doing
the same kind of action on each one, but I think people think about that less. It’s one of those things that you don’t really
think about until you’re finally on set, and you’re like, “Oh, crap, I have to do this
10 times from different angles. What hand was I holding the cup with in the
first shot?” Anyways, so I think you do get way more rehearsal
time with a theatre performance, and when it comes to something like for my example,
doing Jersey Boys, 440 performances, I had to go out there and give the same performance
every night. Yes, I had to do different emotional and mindset
work to get into the right place that I could do it, but ultimately, the director wanted
the same result. He wants the audience experiencing the same
thing, no matter which night or day of the week that they come along, whereas I believe
that on a set, you are a lot freer to kind of let some emotions come out and experiment
a little bit more within the restrictions of the script and what the director’s giving
you. Okay. Point number two is a bit of a technical one. So, I want you to step out of the eyes of
being an actor right now and think from a production standpoint. Who is really telling the final story? So, with a play, with anything, any live performance,
even though you have a director who has directed the show to get it to a certain point, on
the day or the night of the performance, you, the actor as well as some other things like
maybe the orchestra and the lighting and everything, but you are telling the story from start to
finish. When you’re on a set, and you’re going to
be in a TV show or in a film, you are going to tell your little part of the story, but
ultimately, the director and the editor are the ones that pull that story together and
decide how it plays out, so, choices that you made where you were doing one thing because
you thought that this is meant to affect some sort of change, I mean that could be cut out
completely and change the context of the story, if that makes sense. So, you are not really the storyteller. You’re a little bit more of a puppet in film
or television, not in the negative sense, but just in that you have to just be emotionally
available, give them options, but then trust that they’re going to pull that story together
later as opposed to theatre where you tell the entire story on the night. Now, a very technical one is the size of your
performance, and this is where I think so many people go wrong. So, people just think that automatically,
if you’re on stage it’s big, if you’re on screen, it’s small, but that is not the whole
story. So, obviously, on stage, you are needing to
show how you feel to people that are further away. Some of them may not be close enough to see
the expressions on your face, which means you’re relying on using your body language
a lot more to tell that story, but this is still going to vary depending on the size
of the audience and the size of the theatre. So, there are live show like live performances,
plays that have been put on to an audience of 20 or 50 people, which is a very intimate
space, meaning you do not have to do all the things. On the flip side, when you’re on screen, yes,
if you are in an extreme close-up, you can just think something, and we can tell you’re
thinking it even if nothing moves on your face, but then you’re going to have mid-shots
where we can still see your face, we can see a bit of your body, so you’re going to use
a little bit more expression to tell the story, but then there are also going to be these
wide shots where your entire body is in it. We’re not getting much detail from your face,
so you can be a lot more physical. The real technician that truly understands
his craft is the one that finds out what shot he’s in right now, what’s being seen and what’s
not, and really tailors his or her performance to the size of that shot. For someone that’s on stage, it’s going to
be the same thing. You’re going to get better at reading how
far away the audience is and how much you need to give for them to physically be able
to follow the story. This connects to point number four, which
is your vocal performance. So, I’ve had this issue before. I’ve never had any trouble with projection
because I have done live performance where we weren’t miked or where a microphone has
broken, and I just had to belt out the rest of the show just with my lungs, and so that
was never an issue, and that was the first thing that I really had to adjust and be more
aware of when I was going to be on screen because obviously, you are miked, but that
said, I tended to overcompensate and give them almost no projection because I felt like,
“Oh, but they’re up so close. I need to be quiet.” That can be an issue too because you need
to give the microphones, like the sound people, enough volume that they can actually work
with because they can always tone it down if they need to, but if you’re so quiet, they’re
not picking it up, that’s an issue. So, you will definitely, if you’re someone
that’s wanting to do onstage performance, learning how to project, going and getting
those voice lessons, and also learning to really enunciate clearly, this becomes an
issue too when you’re singing. People can get a little bit sloppy. Modern pop songs these days, you often can’t
even tell what people are singing because it’s like (singing) instead of tell them that
I love you. In theatre, you need to be able to understand
every word because even the songs are going to continue telling the story. So, either way, you need to be really clear,
but you’re going to have to have more power and maybe some more training to really make
that work on stage. That said, if you’ve had no training and no
experience and you struggle vocally, I’ve seen this in class sometimes that everyone’s
got their thing that they struggle with the most, and for some people, it’s just getting
heard. It’s projection. A lot of the time, it’s confidence. So, it may be that you’re not confident in
what you’re saying, not understanding what you’re saying. Maybe it’s your accent, but sometimes, it’s
that you just don’t actually know about breath control, and you’re not breathing properly. So, either way, I think vocal training is
a really important thing, no matter which medium you’re performing in. Finally, these are the clincher for me, and
the reason I ultimately decided not to keep doing musical theatre, it is the repetition. So, where on, whether it’s a film or a television
show, you learn this stuff. You might get some rehearsal, and then you
just go shoot it, and then you move on. Next scene, next episode. In theatre, especially in a long running show
like the ones that I was doing where you’re probably at least doing 12 months per contract,
that’s a lot of repetition. We’re talking eight times a week of the exact
same performance. Once it’s locked in, it’s locked in. You’ve got people monitoring your performance
in the audience, like the resident director will be watching a few nights a week to make
sure everyone is on point. If you have a funny night where you do something
a little bit different, you’ll probably get flagged by them at the end during notes just
saying, “Oh, you did this weird thing with your hand yesterday,” and you’re like, “What? I don’t even remember. I was thinking about dinner.” So, there is a discipline to being able to
repeat a performance that many times, and some people love the structure of it. They love the predictability, the repetition. For me, it drove me bonkers. I got bored a few weeks in, and I was like,
“Oh, is this it?” That is why I now prefer film and television
because it’s a constant challenge. It’s always new things to learn and things
to do, and you’re always on your toes, and it’s just a totally different experience. So, that’s a personal preference thing. All right, that’s enough for me, but I would
love to hear from you in the comments if you have your own thoughts about what really is
the difference between stage and screen acting and if you’ve tried that yourself. Have you done both? What do you prefer? Let me know, and so you don’t miss out on
any future content, make sure you are subscribed, and you like this video if you got something
out of it. I really can’t wait to see you guys next time. Bye for now.

10 Comments

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *