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An actor or actress is a person who portrays a character in a performance. The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the
theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The p ...

theatre
or in modern media such as
film A film also called a movie, motion picture, moving picture, picture, photoplay or (slang) flick is a work of visual art that simulates experiences and otherwise communicates ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere ...

film
,
radio Radio is the technology of signaling and telecommunication, communicating using radio waves. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves of frequency between 30 hertz (Hz) and 300 gigahertz (GHz). They are generated by an electronic device ...

radio
, and
television
television
. The analogous Greek term is (), literally "one who answers".''Hypokrites'' (related to our word for hypocrite) also means, less often, "to answer" the tragic chorus. See Weimann (1978, 2); see also Csapo and Slater, who offer translations of classical source material using the term ''hypocrisis'' ( acting) (1994, 257, 265–267). The actor's interpretation of a rolethe art of actingpertains to the role played, whether based on a real person or fictional character. This can also be considered an "actor's role," which was called this due to scrolls being used in the theaters. Interpretation occurs even when the actor is "playing themselves", as in some forms of experimental performance art. Formerly, in
ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, classical antiquity ( AD 600), th ...
and the medieval world, and in England at the time of
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
, only men could become actors, and women's roles were generally played by men or boys. While Ancient Rome did allow female stage performers, only a small minority of them were given speaking parts. The commedia dell'arte of Italy, however, allowed professional women to perform early on; Lucrezia Di Siena, whose name is on a contract of actors from 10 October 1564, has been referred to as the first Italian actress known by name, with Vincenza Armani and Barbara Flaminia as the first primadonnas and the first well-documented actresses in
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic, ) or the Republic of Italy, is a country in Southern Europe. It is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and its territory largely coincides with the Italy (geographical region) ...

Italy
(and in Europe).Giacomo Oreglia (2002). Commedia dell'arte. Ordfront. After the English Restoration of 1660, women began to appear onstage in England. In modern times, particularly in pantomime and some operas, women occasionally play the roles of boys or young men.


History

The first recorded case of a performing actor occurred in 534 BC (though the changes in the calendar over the years make it hard to determine exactly) when the Greek performer Thespis stepped onto the stage at the ''Theatre Dionysus'' to become the first known person to speak words as a character in a play or story. Before Thespis' act, Grecian stories were only expressed in
song
song
, dance, and in third person narrative. In honor of Thespis, actors are commonly called ''Thespians''. The exclusively male actors in the theatre of ancient Greece performed in three types of
drama
drama
: tragedy, comedy, and the satyr play. This developed and expanded considerably under the Romans. The theatre of ancient Rome was a thriving and diverse art form, ranging from festival performances of street theatre, nude dancing, and acrobatics, to the staging of situation comedies, to high-style, verbally elaborate tragedies. As the
Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
fell into decay through the 4th and 5th centuries, the seat of Roman power was moved eastward to
Constantinople
Constantinople
. Records show that mime,
pantomime
pantomime
, scenes or recitations from tragedies and
comedies
comedies
,
dance
dance
s, and other entertainments were very popular. From the 5th century,
Western Europe
Western Europe
was plunged into a period of general disorder. Small nomadic bands of actors traveled around Europe throughout the period, performing wherever they could find an audience; there is no evidence that they produced anything but crude scenes. Traditionally, actors were not of high status; therefore, in the Early Middle Ages, traveling acting troupes were often viewed with distrust. Early Middle Ages actors were denounced by the
Church
Church
during the Dark Ages, as they were viewed as dangerous, immoral, and pagan. In many parts of Europe, traditional beliefs of the region and time meant actors could not receive a Christian burial. In the Early Middle Ages, churches in Europe began staging dramatized versions of biblical events. By the middle of the 11th century, liturgical drama had spread from Russia to
Scandinavia
Scandinavia
to Italy. The Feast of Fools encouraged the development of comedy. In the Late Middle Ages, plays were produced in 127 towns. These vernacular Mystery plays often contained
comedy
comedy
, with actors playing
devil
devil
s, villains, and
clown
clown
s. The majority of actors in these plays were drawn from the local population. Amateur performers in England were exclusively male, but other countries had female performers. There were several secular plays staged in the Middle Ages, the earliest of which is ''The Play of the Greenwood'' by Adam de la Halle in 1276. It contains satirical scenes and folk material such as faeries and other supernatural occurrences. Farces also rose in popularity after the 13th century. At the end of the Late Middle Ages, professional actors began to appear in England and Europe.
Richard III
Richard III
and Henry VII both maintained small companies of professional actors. Beginning in the mid-16th century, Commedia dell'arte troupes performed lively improvisational playlets across Europe for centuries. Commedia dell'arte was an actor-centred theatre, requiring little scenery and very few props. Plays were loose frameworks that provided situations, complications, and the outcome of the action, around which the actors improvised. The plays used stock characters. A troupe typically consisted of 13 to 14 members. Most actors were paid a share of the play's profits roughly equivalent to the sizes of their roles. Renaissance theatre derived from several medieval theatre traditions, such as the mystery plays, " morality plays", and the "university drama" that attempted to recreate Athenian tragedy. The Italian tradition of Commedia dell'arte, as well as the elaborate
masque
masque
s frequently presented at court, also contributed to the shaping of public theatre. Since before the reign of Elizabeth I, companies of players were attached to the households of leading aristocrats and performed seasonally in various locations. These became the foundation for the professional players that performed on the Elizabethan stage. The development of the theatre and opportunities for acting ceased when
Puritan
Puritan
opposition to the stage banned the performance of all plays within London. Puritans viewed the theatre as immoral. The re-opening of the theatres in 1660 signaled a renaissance of English drama. English comedies written and performed in the Restoration period from 1660 to 1710 are collectively called "Restoration comedy". Restoration comedy is notorious for its sexual explicitness. At this point, women were allowed for the first time to appear on the English stage, exclusively in female roles. This period saw the introduction of the first professional actresses and the rise of the first celebrity actors.


19th century

In the 19th century, the negative reputation of actors was largely reversed, and acting became an honored, popular profession and art. The rise of the actor as celebrity provided the transition, as audiences flocked to their favorite "stars". A new role emerged for the actor-managers, who formed their own companies and controlled the actors, the productions, and the financing. When successful, they built up a permanent clientele that flocked to their productions. They could enlarge their audience by going on tour across the country, performing a repertoire of well-known plays, such as those by Shakespeare. The newspapers, private clubs, pubs, and coffee shops rang with lively debates evaluating the relative merits of the stars and the productions.
Henry Irving
Henry Irving
(1838–1905) was the most successful of the British actor-managers. Irving was renowned for his Shakespearean roles, and for such innovations as turning out the house lights so that attention could focus more on the stage and less on the audience. His company toured across Britain, as well as Europe and the United States, demonstrating the power of star actors and celebrated roles to attract enthusiastic audiences. His knighthood in 1895 indicated full acceptance into the higher circles of British society.


20th century

By the early 20th century, the economics of large-scale productions displaced the actor-manager model. It was too hard to find people who combined a genius at acting as well as management, so specialization divided the roles as stage managers and later theatre directors emerged. Financially, much larger capital was required to operate out of a major city. The solution was corporate ownership of chains of theatres, such as by the Theatrical Syndicate, Edward Laurillard, and especially The Shubert Organization. By catering to tourists, theaters in large cities increasingly favored long runs of highly popular plays, especially musicals. Big name stars became even more essential.


Techniques

* Classical acting is a philosophy of acting that integrates the expression of the body, voice, imagination, personalizing, improvisation, external stimuli, and script analysis. It is based on the theories and systems of select classical actors and directors including Konstantin Stanislavski and Michel Saint-Denis. * In Stanislavski's system, also known as Stanislavski's method, actors draw upon their own feelings and experiences to convey the "truth" of the character they portray. Actors puts themselves in the mindset of the character, finding things in common to give a more genuine portrayal of the character. * Method acting is a range of techniques based on for training actors to achieve better characterizations of the characters they play, as formulated by Lee Strasberg. Strasberg's method is based upon the idea that to develop an emotional and cognitive understanding of their roles, actors should use their own experiences to identify personally with their characters. It is based on aspects of Stanislavski's system. Other acting techniques are also based on Stanislavski's ideas, such as those of Stella Adler and Sanford Meisner, but these are not considered "method acting". * Meisner technique requires the actor to focus totally on the other actor as though they are real and they only exist in that moment. This is a method that makes the actors in the scene seem more authentic to the audience. It is based on the principle that acting finds its expression in people's response to other people and circumstances. Is it based on Stanislavski's system.


As the opposite gender

Formerly, in some societies, only men could become actors. In
ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, classical antiquity ( AD 600), th ...
and
ancient Rome In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom (753–509 ...
and the medieval world, it was considered disgraceful for a woman to go on stage; nevertheless, women did perform in Ancient Rome, and again entered the stage in the Commedia dell'arte in Italy in the 16th century; Lucrezia Di Siena became the perhaps first professional actress since Ancient Rome. France and Spain, too, also had female actors in the 16th century. In William Shakespeare's England, however, women's roles were generally played by men or boys. When an eighteen-year prohibition of drama was lifted after the English Restoration of 1660, women began to appear on stage in England. Margaret Hughes is often credited as the first professional actress on the English stage. Previously, Angelica Martinelli, a member of a visiting Italian Commedia dell'arte company, did perform in England as early as 1578, but such foreign guest appearances had been rare exceptions and there had been no professional English actresses in England. This prohibition ended during the reign of Charles II in part because he enjoyed watching actresses on stage. Specifically, Charles II issued
letters patent Letters patent ( la, litterae patentes) (plurale tantum, always in the plural) are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch, President (government title), president or other head of state, genera ...
to
Thomas Killigrew Thomas Killigrew (7 February 1612 – 19 March 1683) was an English dramatist A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes play (theatre), plays. Etymology The word "play" is from Middle English pleye, from Old English plæġ, pleġa, ...
and
William Davenant Sir William Davenant (baptised 3 March 1606 – 7 April 1668), also spelled D'Avenant, was an English poet and playwright. Along with Thomas Killigrew, Davenant was one of the rare figures in English Renaissance theatre whose career spanned bot ...
, granting them the
monopoly A monopoly (from Greek language, Greek el, μόνος, mónos, single, alone, label=none and el, πωλεῖν, pōleîn, to sell, label=none), as described by Irving Fisher, is a market with the "absence of competition", creating a situati ...
right to form two London theatre companies to perform "serious" drama, and the letters patent were reissued in 1662 with revisions allowing actresses to perform for the first time. According to the OED, the first occurrence of the term ''actress'' was in 1608 and is ascribed to Middleton. In the 19th century, many viewed women in acting negatively, as actresses were often courtesans and associated with promiscuity. Despite these prejudices, the 19th century also saw the first female acting "stars", most notably
Sarah Bernhardt Sarah Bernhardt (; born Henriette-Rosine Bernard; 22 or 23 October 1844 – 26 March 1923) was a French stage actress who starred in some of the most popular French plays of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including ''La Dame Aux Cameli ...
. In Japan, '' onnagata'', or men taking on female roles, were used in ''
kabuki is a classical form of Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, while extending ...
'' theatre when women were banned from performing on stage during the
Edo period The or is the period between 1603 and 1867 in the history of Japan, history of Japan, when Japan was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country's 300 regional ''daimyo''. Emerging from the chaos of the Sengoku period, the Edo perio ...
; this convention continues. In some forms of Chinese drama such as
Beijing opera Peking opera, or Beijing opera (), is the most dominant form of Chinese opera Traditional Chinese opera (), or ''Xiqu'', is a form of musical theatre in China with roots going back to the early periods in China. It is an amalgamation of var ...
, men traditionally performed all the roles, including female roles, while in
Shaoxing opera Yue opera, also known as Shaoxing opera, is the Chinese opera genre. Only Peking opera is more popular nationwide. Originating in Shengzhou, Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province in 1906, Yue opera features actresses in male roles as well as femini ...
women often play all roles, including male ones. In modern times, women occasionally played the roles of boys or young men. For example, the stage role of
Peter Pan Peter Pan is a fictional character created by List of Scottish novelists, Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie. A free-spirited and mischievous young boy who can fly and Puer aeternus, never grows up, Peter Pan spends his never-ending ...
is traditionally played by a woman, as are most principal boys in British .
Opera Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a ...
has several "
breeches role A breeches role (also pants role or trouser role, or Hosenrolle) is one in which an actress appears in male clothing. Breeches, tight-fitting knee-length pants, were the standard male garment at the time these roles were introduced. The theatric ...
s" traditionally sung by women, usually
mezzo-soprano A mezzo-soprano or mezzo (; ; meaning "half soprano") is a type of classical female singing Singing is the act of creating musical sounds with the voice. A person who sings is called a singer, artist or vocalist (in jazz and/or popular mus ...
s. Examples are Hansel in '' Hänsel und Gretel'', Cherubino in ''
The Marriage of Figaro ''The Marriage of Figaro'' ( it, Le nozze di Figaro, links=no, ), Köchel catalogue, K. 492, is a ''commedia per musica'' (opera buffa) in four acts composed in 1786 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with an Italian libretto written by Lorenzo D ...
'' and Octavian in ''
Der Rosenkavalier (''The Knight of the Rose'' or ''The Rose-Bearer''), Op. 59, is a comic opera in three acts by Richard Strauss to an original German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It is loosely adapted from the novel ''Les amours du chevalier de Faublas'' ...
''. Women playing male roles are uncommon in film, with notable exceptions. In 1982, Stina Ekblad played the mysterious Ismael Retzinsky in ''
Fanny and Alexander ''Fanny and Alexander'' ( sv, Fanny och Alexander) is a 1982 Historical drama, period drama film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. The plot focuses on two siblings and their large family in Uppsala, Sweden during the first decade of the t ...
'', and Linda Hunt received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing Billy Kwan in '' The Year of Living Dangerously''. In 2007,
Cate Blanchett Catherine Elise Blanchett (; born 14 May 1969) is an Australian actor. Regarded as one of the finest performers of her generation, she is known for her versatile work across independent films, blockbusters, and the stage. She has received n ...
was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing Jude Quinn, a fictionalized representation of
Bob Dylan Bob Dylan (legally Robert Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter. Often regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Dylan has been a major figure in popular culture during a career sp ...
in the 1960s, in ''
I'm Not There ''I'm Not There'' is a 2007 Musical film, musical Drama (film and television), drama film directed by Todd Haynes, and co-written by Haynes and Oren Moverman. It is an unconventional biographical film inspired by the life and music of American s ...
''. In the 2000s, women playing men in live theatre is particularly common in presentations of older plays, such as Shakespearean works with large numbers of male characters in roles where gender is inconsequential. Having an actor dress as the opposite sex for comic effect is also a long-standing tradition in comic theatre and film. Most of Shakespeare's comedies include instances of overt
cross-dressing Cross-dressing is the act of wearing clothes usually worn by a different gender. From as early as pre-modern history, cross-dressing has been practiced in order to disguise, comfort, entertain, and self-express oneself. Cross-dressing has play ...
, such as Francis Flute in ''
A Midsummer Night's Dream ''A Midsummer Night's Dream'' is a Comedy (drama), comedy written by William Shakespeare 1595 or 1596. The play is set in Athens, and consists of several subplots that revolve around the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta. One subplot involves ...
''. The movie ''
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum ''A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum'' is a Musical theatre, musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. Inspired by the farces of the Ancient Rome, ancient Roman playwright Plautu ...
'' stars Jack Gilford dressing as a young bride.
Tony Curtis Tony Curtis (born Bernard Schwartz; June 3, 1925September 29, 2010) was an American actor whose career spanned six decades, achieving the height of his popularity in the 1950s (Kansas Raiders, 1950) and early 1960s. He acted in more than 100 f ...
and
Jack Lemmon John Uhler Lemmon III (February 8, 1925 – June 27, 2001) was an American actor. Considered equally proficient in both Drama (film and television), dramatic and Comedy film, comic roles, Lemmon was known for his anxious, middle-class everyman sc ...
famously posed as women to escape gangsters in the
Billy Wilder Billy Wilder (; ; born Samuel Wilder; June 22, 1906 – March 27, 2002) was an Austrian-American filmmaker. His career in Hollywood spanned five decades, and he is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of Classic Hol ...
film ''
Some Like It Hot ''Some Like It Hot'' is a 1959 American crime comedy film directed, produced and co-written by Billy Wilder. It stars Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, with George Raft, Pat O'Brien (actor), Pat O'Brien, Joe E. Brown, Joan Shawlee, Gr ...
''. Cross-dressing for comic effect was a frequently used device in most of the Carry On films.
Dustin Hoffman Dustin Lee Hoffman (born August 8, 1937) is an American actor and filmmaker. As one of the key actors in the formation of New Hollywood, Hoffman is known for his versatile portrayals of antiheroes and emotionally vulnerable characters. He is ...
and
Robin Williams Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951August 11, 2014) was an American actor and comedian. Known for his improvisational skills and the wide variety of characters he created on the spur of the moment and portrayed on film, in dramas and comed ...
have each appeared in a hit comedy film ('' Tootsie'' and '' Mrs. Doubtfire'', respectively) in which they played most scenes dressed as a woman. Occasionally, the issue is further complicated, for example, by a woman playing a woman acting as a man—who then pretends to be a woman, such as
Julie Andrews Dame Julie Andrews (born Julia Elizabeth Wells; 1 October 1935) is an English actress, singer, and author. She has garnered List of awards and nominations received by Julie Andrews, numerous accolades throughout her career spanning over seven ...
in '' Victor/Victoria'', or
Gwyneth Paltrow Gwyneth Kate Paltrow (; born ) is an American actress and businesswoman. She is the recipient of various accolades, including an Academy Award The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit fo ...
in ''
Shakespeare in Love ''Shakespeare in Love'' is a 1998 romantic period comedy-drama Comedy drama, also known by the portmanteau ''dramedy'', is a genre of dramatic works that combines elements of comedy and Drama (film and television), drama. The modern, scri ...
''. In '' It's Pat: The Movie'', film-watchers never learn the gender of the androgynous main characters Pat and Chris (played by Julia Sweeney and
Dave Foley David Scott Foley (born January 4, 1963) is a Canadian actor, stand-up comedian, director, producer and writer. He is known as a co-founder of the comedy group The Kids in the Hall, who have appeared together in a number of television, stage an ...
). Similarly, in the aforementioned example of ''The Marriage of Figaro'', there is a scene in which Cherubino (a male character portrayed by a woman) dresses up and acts like a woman; the other characters in the scene are aware of a single level of gender role obfuscation, while the audience is aware of two levels. A few modern roles are played by a member of the opposite sex to emphasize the gender fluidity of the role. Edna Turnblad in ''Hairspray'' was played by Divine in the 1988 original film,
Harvey Fierstein Harvey Forbes Fierstein ( ; born June 6, 1952) is an American actor, playwright and screenwriter. He is best known for his theater work in '' Torch Song Trilogy'' and '' Hairspray'' and movie roles in '' Mrs. Doubtfire'', '' Independence Day'', a ...
in the
Broadway musical Broadway theatre,Although ''theater'' is generally the spelling for this common noun in the United States (see American and British English spelling differences#-re, -er, American and British English spelling differences), 130 of the List of ...
, and
John Travolta John Joseph Travolta (born February 18, 1954) is an American actor. He came to public attention during the 1970s, appearing on the television sitcom ''Welcome Back, Kotter'' (1975–1979) and starring in the box office successes ''Carrie (1976 ...
in the 2007 movie musical. Eddie Redmayne was nominated for an
Academy Award The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit for the American and international film industry. The awards are regarded by many as the most prestigious, significant awards in the entertainment ind ...
for playing
Lili Elbe Lili Ilse Elvenes (28 December 1882 – 13 September 1931), better known as Lili Elbe, was a Danish painter and transgender woman, and among the early recipients of sex reassignment surgery Gender-affirming surgery (GAS) is a surgical proce ...
(a
trans woman A trans woman or a transgender woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth. Trans women have a female gender identity, may experience gender dysphoria, and may Gender transitioning, transition; this process commonly includes Feminizing horm ...
) in 2015's '' The Danish Girl''.


The term actress

In contrast to Ancient Greek theatre, Ancient Roman theatre did allow female performers. While the majority of them were seldom employed in speaking roles but rather for dancing, there was a minority of actresses in Rome employed in speaking roles, and also those who achieved wealth, fame and recognition for their art, such as Eucharis,
Dionysia The Dionysia (, , ; Greek language, Greek: Διονύσια) was a large Athenian festivals, festival in ancient Athens in honor of the god Dionysus, the central events of which were the Greek drama, theatrical performances of dramatic tragedy, ...
, Galeria Copiola and Fabia Arete, and they also formed their own acting guild, the '' Sociae Mimae'', which was evidently quite wealthy. The profession seemingly died out in late antiquity. While women did not begin to perform onstage in England until the second half of the 17th century, they did appear in Italy, Spain and France from the late 16th-century onward. Lucrezia Di Siena, whose name is on an acting contract in Rome from 10 October 1564, has been referred to as the first Italian actress known by name, with Vincenza Armani and Barbara Flaminia as the first primadonnas and the first well-documented actresses in Italy (and Europe). After 1660 in
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...
, when women first started to appear on stage, the terms ''actor'' or ''actress'' were initially used interchangeably for female performers, but later, influenced by the French , ''actress'' became the commonly used term for women in theater and film. The
etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) – p. 633 "Etymology /ˌɛtɪˈmɒlədʒi/ the study of the class in words and the way their meanings have changed throughout time". is the study of the history of the Phonological chan ...
is a simple derivation from ''actor'' with added. When referring to groups of performers of both sexes, ''actors'' is preferred. Within the profession, the re-adoption of the neutral term dates to the
post-war In Western world, Western usage, the phrase post-war era (or postwar era) usually refers to the time since the end of World War II. More broadly, a post-war period (or postwar period) is the interval immediately following the end of a war. A po ...
period of the 1950 and '60s, when the contributions of women to cultural life in general were being reviewed. When ''The Observer'' and ''The Guardian'' published their new joint style guide in 2010, it stated "Use actor'for both male and female actors; do not use actress except when in name of award, e.g. Oscar for best actress". The guide's authors stated that "actress comes into the same category as authoress, comedienne, manageress, 'lady doctor', 'male nurse' and similar obsolete terms that date from a time when professions were largely the preserve of one sex (usually men)." (See '' male as norm''.) "As
Whoopi Goldberg Caryn Elaine Johnson (born November 13, 1955), known professionally as Whoopi Goldberg (), is an American actor, comedian, author, and television personality.Kuchwara, Michael (AP Drama Writer)"Whoopi Goldberg: A One-Woman Character Parade". ' ...
put it in an interview with the paper: 'An actress can only play a woman. I'm an actor – I can play anything. The UK performers' union Equity has no policy on the use of "actor" or "actress". An Equity spokesperson said that the union does not believe that there is a consensus on the matter and stated that the "...subject divides the profession". In 2009, the ''Los Angeles Times'' stated that "Actress" remains the common term used in major acting awards given to female recipients (e.g.,
Academy Award for Best Actress The Academy Award for Best Actress is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is given to an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance in a Lead actor, leading role in a film released ...
). With regard to the
cinema of the United States The cinema of the United States, consisting mainly of major film studios (also known as Hollywood) along with some independent film, has had a large effect on the film industry, global film industry since the early 20th century. The dominant ...
, the gender-neutral term "player" was common in film in the
silent film A silent film is a film with no synchronized Sound recording and reproduction, recorded sound (or more generally, no audible dialogue). Though silent films convey narrative and emotion visually, various plot elements (such as a setting or era) ...
era and the early days of the
Motion Picture Production Code The Motion Picture Production Code was a set of industry guidelines for the self-censorship of content that was applied to most motion pictures released by major studios in the Cinema of the United States, United States from 1934 to 1968. It is ...
, but in the 2000s in a film context, it is generally deemed archaic. However, "player" remains in use in the
theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The p ...

theatre
, often incorporated into the name of a theatre group or company, such as the American Players, the East West Players, etc. Also, actors in
improvisational theatre Improvisational theatre, often called improvisation or improv, is the form of theatre, often comedy, in which most or all of what is performed is unplanned or unscripted: created spontaneously by the performers. In its purest form, the dialogue, a ...
may be referred to as "players".


Pay equity

In 2015, ''
Forbes ''Forbes'' () is an American business magazine owned by Integrated Whale Media Investments and the Forbes family (publishers), Forbes family. Published eight times a year, it features articles on finance, industry, investing, and marketing ...
'' reported that "...just 21 of the 100 top-grossing films of 2014 featured a female lead or co-lead, while only 28.1% of characters in 100 top-grossing films were female...".Jennifer Lawrence Speaks Out On Making Less Than Male Co-Stars
Forbes.com (13 October 2015). Retrieved on 2016-02-10.
"In the U.S., there is an "industry-wide apin salaries of all scales. On average, white women earn 78 cents to every dollar a white man makes, while Hispanic women earn 56 cents to a white male's dollar, black women 64 cents and Native American women just 59 cents to that." ''Forbes analysis of US acting salaries in 2013 determined that the "...men on Forbes' list of top-paid actors for that year made times as much money as the top-paid actresses. That means that Hollywood's best-compensated actresses made just 40 cents for every dollar that the best-compensated men made."


Types

Actors working in
theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The p ...

theatre
,
film A film also called a movie, motion picture, moving picture, picture, photoplay or (slang) flick is a work of visual art that simulates experiences and otherwise communicates ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere ...

film
, , and
radio Radio is the technology of signaling and telecommunication, communicating using radio waves. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves of frequency between 30 hertz (Hz) and 300 gigahertz (GHz). They are generated by an electronic device ...

radio
have to learn specific skills. Techniques that work well in one type of acting may not work well in another type of acting.


In theatre

To act on stage, actors need to learn the stage directions that appear in the script, such as "Stage Left" and "Stage Right". These directions are based on the actor's point of view as they stand on the stage facing the audience. Actors also have to learn the meaning of the stage directions "Upstage" (away from the audience) and "Downstage" (towards the audience) Theatre actors need to learn blocking, which is "...where and how an actor moves on the stage during a play". Most scripts specify some blocking. The Director also gives instructions on blocking, such as crossing the stage or picking up and using a prop. Some theater actors need to learn
stage combat Stage combat, fight craft or fight choreography is a specialised technique in theatre designed to create the illusion of physical combat without causing harm to the performers. It is employed in live stage plays as well as operatic and ballet pr ...
, which is simulated fighting on stage. Actors may have to simulate hand-to-hand fighting or sword-fighting. Actors are coached by fight directors, who help them learn the choreographed sequence of fight actions.


In film


Silent films

From 1894 to the late 1920s, movies were
silent film A silent film is a film with no synchronized Sound recording and reproduction, recorded sound (or more generally, no audible dialogue). Though silent films convey narrative and emotion visually, various plot elements (such as a setting or era) ...
s. Silent film actors emphasized
body language Body language is a type of communication in which physical behaviors, as opposed to words, are used to express or convey information. Such behavior includes facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, touch and the use of space. The ...
and
facial expression A facial expression is one or more motions or positions of the Skeletal muscle, muscles beneath the skin of the face. According to one set of controversial theories, these movements convey the emotional state of an individual to observers. Facial ...
, so that the audience could better understand what an actor was feeling and portraying on screen. Much silent film acting is apt to strike modern-day audiences as simplistic or
campy Camp is an aesthetic style and sensibility that regards something as appealing because of its bad taste (sociology), taste and irony, ironic value. Camp aesthetics disrupt many of modernism's notions of what art is and what can be classified as ...
. The melodramatic acting style was in some cases a habit actors transferred from their former stage experience.
Vaudeville Vaudeville (; ) is a theatre, theatrical genre of variety show, variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 19th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: ...
theatre was an especially popular origin for many American silent film actors. The pervading presence of stage actors in film was the cause of this outburst from director
Marshall Neilan Marshall Ambrose "Mickey" Neilan (April 11, 1891 – October 27, 1958) was an American actor. Early life Born in San Bernardino, California San Bernardino (; Spanish language, Spanish for Bernardino of Siena, "Saint Bernardino") is a ci ...
in 1917: "The sooner the stage people who have come into pictures get out, the better for the pictures." In other cases, directors such as John Griffith Wray required their actors to deliver larger-than-life expressions for emphasis. As early as 1914, American viewers had begun to make known their preference for greater naturalness on screen. Pioneering film directors in Europe and the United States recognized the different limitations and freedoms of the mediums of stage and screen by the early 1910s. Silent films became less vaudevillian in the mid-1910s, as the differences between stage and screen became apparent. Due to the work of directors such as D W Griffith, cinematography became less stage-like, and the then-revolutionary close-up shot allowed subtle and naturalistic acting. In America, D.W. Griffith's company
Biograph Studios Biograph Studios was an early film studio and laboratory complex, built in 1912 by the Biograph Company The Biograph Company, also known as the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, was a motion picture company founded in 1895 and active un ...
, became known for its innovative direction and acting, conducted to suit the cinema rather than the stage. Griffith realized that theatrical acting did not look good on film and required his actors and actresses to go through weeks of film acting training.
Lillian Gish Lillian Diana Gish (October 14, 1893February 27, 1993) was an American actress, director, and screenwriter. Her film-acting career spanned 75 years, from 1912, in silent film short film, shorts, to 1987. Gish was called the "First Lady of Americ ...
has been called film's "first true actress" for her work in the period, as she pioneered new film performing techniques, recognizing the crucial differences between stage and screen acting. Directors such as Albert Capellani and
Maurice Tourneur Maurice may refer to: People *Saint Maurice (died 287), Roman legionary and Christian martyr *Maurice (emperor) or Flavius Mauricius Tiberius Augustus (539–602), Byzantine emperor *Maurice (bishop of London) (died 1107), Lord Chancellor and Lo ...
began to insist on naturalism in their films. By the mid-1920s many American silent films had adopted a more naturalistic acting style, though not all actors and directors accepted naturalistic, low-key acting straight away; as late as 1927, films featuring expressionistic acting styles, such as ''
Metropolis A metropolis () is a large city or conurbation which is a significant economic, political, and cultural center for a country or region, and an important hub for regional or international connections, commerce, and communications. A big ci ...
'', were still being released. According to Anton Kaes, a silent film scholar from the University of Wisconsin, American silent cinema began to see a shift in acting techniques between 1913 and 1921, influenced by techniques found in German silent film. This is mainly attributed to the influx of emigrants from the
Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: link=no, Weimarer Republik ), officially named the German Reich, was the government of Germany from 1918 to 1933, during which it was a Constitutional republic, constitutional federal republic for the first time in ...
, "including film directors, producers, cameramen, lighting and stage technicians, as well as actors and actresses".


The advent of sound in film

Film actors have to learn to get used to and be comfortable with a camera being in front of them. Film actors need to learn to find and stay on their "mark." This is a position on the floor marked with tape. This position is where the lights and camera focus are optimized. Film actors also need to learn how to prepare well and perform well on-
screen test A screen test is a method of determining the suitability of an actor An actor or actress is a person who portrays a Character (arts), character in a performance. The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or i ...
s. Screen tests are a filmed audition of part of the script. Unlike theater actors, who develop characters for repeat performances, film actors lack continuity, forcing them to come to all scenes (sometimes shot in reverse of the order in which they ultimately appear) with a fully developed character already. "Since film captures even the smallest gesture and magnifies it..., cinema demands a less flamboyant and stylized bodily performance from the actor than does the theater." "The performance of emotion is the most difficult aspect of film acting to master: ...the film actor must rely on subtle facial ticks, quivers, and tiny lifts of the eyebrow to create a believable character." Some theatre stars "...have made the theater-to-cinema transition quite successfully (
Laurence Olivier Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier (; 22 May 1907 – 11 July 1989) was an English actor and director who, along with his contemporaries Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud, was one of a trio of male actors who dominated the Theatre of the U ...
,
Glenn Close Glenn Close (born March 19, 1947) is an American actress. Throughout her career spanning over four decades, Close has garnered List of awards and nominations received by Glenn Close, numerous accolades, including two Screen Actors Guild Awards, ...
, and
Julie Andrews Dame Julie Andrews (born Julia Elizabeth Wells; 1 October 1935) is an English actress, singer, and author. She has garnered List of awards and nominations received by Julie Andrews, numerous accolades throughout her career spanning over seven ...
, for instance), others have not..."


In television

"On a television set, there are typically several cameras angled at the set. Actors who are new to on-screen acting can get confused about which camera to look into." TV actors need to learn to use lav mics ( Lavaliere microphones). TV actors need to understand the concept of "frame". "The term frame refers to the area that the camera's lens is capturing." Within the acting industry, there are four types of television roles one could land on a show. Each type varies in prominence, frequency of appearance, and pay. The first is known as a ''series regular''—the main actors on the show as part of the permanent cast. Actors in ''recurring'' roles are under contract to appear in multiple episodes of a series. A ''co-star'' role is a small speaking role that usually only appears in one episode. A ''guest star'' is a larger role than a ''co-star'' role, and the character is often the central focus of the episode or integral to the plot.


In radio

Radio drama is a dramatized, purely acoustic
performance A performance is an act of staging or presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment. It is also defined as the action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function. Management science In the work place ...
, broadcast on
radio Radio is the technology of signaling and telecommunication, communicating using radio waves. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves of frequency between 30 hertz (Hz) and 300 gigahertz (GHz). They are generated by an electronic device ...

radio
or published on audio media, such as tape or CD. With no visual component, radio depends on dialogue, music and sound effects to help the listener imagine the characters and story: "It is auditory in the physical dimension but equally powerful as a visual force in the psychological dimension." Radio drama achieved widespread popularity within a decade of its initial development in the 1920s. By the 1940s, it was a leading international popular entertainment. With the advent of television in the 1950s, however, radio drama lost some of its popularity, and in some countries has never regained large audiences. However, recordings of OTR (
old-time radio The Golden Age of Radio, also known as the old-time radio (OTR) era, was an era of radio in the United States where it was the dominant electronic home entertainment, entertainment medium. It began with the birth of commercial radio broadcastin ...
) survive today in the audio archives of collectors and museums, as well as several online sites such as
Internet Archive The Internet Archive is an American digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge". It provides free public access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, software applications/games, music, ...
. , radio drama has a minimal presence on terrestrial radio in the United States. Much of American radio drama is restricted to rebroadcasts or
podcast A podcast is a Radio program, program made available in digital format for download over the Internet. For example, an Episode, episodic series of digital audio or video Computer file, files that a user can download to a personal device to l ...
s of programs from previous decades. However, other nations still have thriving traditions of radio drama. In the United Kingdom, for example, the
BBC #REDIRECT BBC
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produces and broadcasts hundreds of new radio plays each year on Radio 3, Radio 4, and Radio 4 Extra. Podcasting has also offered the means of creating new radio dramas, in addition to the distribution of vintage programs. The terms "audio drama"Compare the entry to ''Hörspiel'' e.g. in
dict.cc – Deutsch-Englisch-Wörterbuch
/ref> or "audio theatre" are sometimes used synonymously with "radio drama" with one possible distinction: audio drama or audio theatre may not necessarily be intended specifically for broadcast on radio. Audio drama, whether newly produced or OTR classics, can be found on CDs,
cassette tape The Compact Cassette or Musicassette (MC), also commonly called the tape cassette, cassette tape, audio cassette, or simply tape or cassette, is an analog audio, analog magnetic tape recording format for Sound recording and reproduction, audio ...
s,
podcast A podcast is a Radio program, program made available in digital format for download over the Internet. For example, an Episode, episodic series of digital audio or video Computer file, files that a user can download to a personal device to l ...
s,
webcast A webcast is a media presentation distributed over the Internet using streaming media technology to distribute a single content source to many simultaneous listeners/viewers. A webcast may either be distributed live or on demand. Essentially, web ...
s, and conventional broadcast radio. Thanks to advances in digital recording and Internet distribution, radio drama is experiencing a revival.


See also

*
Bit part In acting Acting is an activity in which a story is told by means of its Enactment (psychology), enactment by an actor or actress who adopts a Character (arts), character—in theatre, television, film, radio, or any other medium that mak ...
*
Body double In filmmaking, a double is a person who substitutes FOR another actor such that the person's face is not shown. There are various terms associated with a double based on the specific body part or ability they serve as a double for, such as stunt ...
*
Cameo appearance A cameo role, also called a cameo appearance and often shortened to just cameo (), is a brief appearance of a well-known person in a work of the performing arts. These roles are generally small, many of them non-speaking ones, and are commonly ei ...
*
Cast member In the performing arts industry such as theatre, film, or television, casting, or a casting call, is a pre-production process for selecting a certain type of actor, dancer, singer, or extra (acting), extra for a particular role or part in a scr ...
*
Character actor A character actor is a supporting actor who plays unusual, interesting, or Eccentricity (behavior), eccentric character (arts), characters.28 April 2013, The New York Acting SchoolTen Best Character Actors of All Time Retrieved 7 August 2014, ". ...
*
Child actor The term child actor or child actress is generally applied to a child acting on stage or in film, movies or television. An adult who began their acting career as a child may also be called a child actor, or a "former child actor". Closely associ ...
* Commedia dell'arte * Dramatis personæ * Droll * Extra (acting) * Farce * GOTE * Kabuki * Leading actor * Lists of actors * Matinee idol * Meisner technique * Mime artist * Movie star * Music hall * Pantomime * Pornographic film actor * Practical Aesthetics * Presentational and representational acting * Supporting actor * Understudy *
Vaudeville Vaudeville (; ) is a theatre, theatrical genre of variety show, variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 19th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: ...
* Voice acting


References


Sources

* Csapo, Eric, and William J. Slater. 1994. ''The Context of Ancient Drama.'' Ann Arbor: The U of Michigan P. . * Elam, Keir. 1980. ''The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama''. New Accents Ser. London and New York: Methuen. . * Weimann, Robert. 1978. ''Shakespeare and the Popular Tradition in the Theater: Studies in the Social Dimension of Dramatic Form and Function.'' Ed. Robert Schwartz. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press. .


Further reading

* ''An Actor's Work'' by Constantin Stanislavski * ''A Dream of Passion: The Development of the Method'' by Lee Strasberg (Plume Books, , 1990) * ''Sanford Meisner on Acting'' by Sanford Meisner (Vintage, , 1987) * ''Letters to a Young Actor'' by Robert Brustein (Basic Books, , 2005) * ''The Empty Space'' by Peter Brook (1st ed by Atheneum, , 1968) * ''The Technique of Acting'' by Stella Adler (Bantam Books, , 1988)


External links


Screen Actors Guild (SAG)
a union representing U. S. film and TV actors.
Actors' Equity Association (AEA)
a union representing U. S. theatre actors and stage managers.
American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA)
a union representing U. S. television and radio actors and broadcasters (on-air journalists, etc.).
British Actors' Equity
a trade union representing UK artists, including actors, singers, dancers, choreographers, stage managers, theatre directors and designers, variety and circus artists, television and radio presenters, walk-on and supporting artists, stunt performers and directors and theatre fight directors.
Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance
an Australian/New Zealand trade union representing everyone in the media, entertainment, sports, and arts industries. {{Authority control Acting Entertainment occupations Filmmaking occupations Television terminology Theatrical occupations