The Differences Between Live Theatre And Film
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The Differences Between Live Theatre And Film

Film actors and stage actors aren't really that different... are they?

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The Differences Between Live Theatre And Film
henry edwards 2, now here this respectively

Everyone has seen a movie and knows how amazing they can be. Theatre can also be amazing, just in different ways. Live theatre and film are similar in some respects but they are very different art forms. Theatre is familiar, larger than life, and lacking in special effects, whereas film has new material, less dramatic and obvious acting, and can be edited to show anything that is needed. Theatre and film are both visual art forms containing actors portraying characters, have scripts, and are widely appreciated, but they are not meant for the same place or people.

The biggest difference between live theatre and film is the location of the audience. On stage, the audience is far off and as they must be able to see and hear a performance to enjoy it, performers must act for the back row. This creates a larger than life performance which only works onstage. Whereas in films, the camera can always see you and the microphone can always hear you. Therefore, you do not have to act so over-the-top. Instead, doing less than you would in real life would be better. In fact, David Patrick Green states in his article, "The 3 Major Differences Between Stage and Screen Acting," that “reality is less enhanced when a camera and microphone become involved. In fact, due to camera-work, score, lighting, and other effects, it is sometimes better to do less than you would in real life because so many things are augmenting your performance.” In theatre, projection of your voice is a constant need, whereas in film you could whisper and the microphone would pick it up. Lloyd Kremer states in his article, "Theatre for the Film Actor," “Theatre is also much more demanding of the various vocal disciplines: volume, projection, and enunciation. In film work, many of these concerns are relegated to the Sound Man.”

Theatre is familiar in that the roles being portrayed have most likely been portrayed several times before, and the characters are very well known by the audience and the actors. Whereas in film, the characters with rare exceptions are being created for the first time. This makes portraying a movie character much easier than portraying a character in a play or musical. Green also states in his article, “the audience and critics will compare you to past versions of the same show. Because many stage characters have been played over and over, there is only so much leeway an audience will accept before they start to complain.” For instance, if Hamlet came onstage and said “To be, or to not be,” the audience would be enraged that you dared mess up a famous line of Shakespeare. Whereas in film, if you mess up a line the only people who will know are you and the people on set with you. Theatre is also familiar in that it gives actors plenty of time to get acquainted with their characters with rehearsal, but with film, that is not the case. As Eugene states in his article, "Stage vs. Screen: What's the Big Difference?" “...you will receive very little, if any, rehearsal time. Depending on the size of the role, you may not receive any direction. Films hire actors under the assumption that they will come to set performance-ready.”

Theatre and film are also very different in writing. Plays are written and then directors get ahold of the play script and adapt it to fit their stage and actors and sometimes even give it a bit of a modernized twist, whereas the screenplay for a film can be in revision as the acting is happening. For television shows, the scripts are written as the show is happening and the actors can get the script revisions while they are filming, whereas in theatre, the script is already written and no major revisions can really be made. In plays, every character has a description and it is the director’s job to decide how they want to interpret that onstage, whereas, in film, the director more or less makes up the character’s description. Lenore DeKoven says in the chapter “Directing: The Similarities and Differences between Film and Theatre” of her book, "Changing Direction: A Practical Approach to Directing Actors in Film and Theatre", that “...the director’s work calls for an overview of the material and an awareness of the throughline and outlines for each character…”

Live theatre is very unpredictable. Anything can happen when you are onstage and it is an actor’s job to just roll with whatever happens and keep going. After all, “the show must go on.” Julia Kelso shows in her article, "Theatre vs Film: What’s the Difference?" many different things that could go wrong, such as “...an actor completely forgetting a line, a prop being misplaced, or that one stubborn section of the set breaking in the middle of a monologue.” On camera, you can redo the same scene as many times as you like, so you never have to worry about forgetting a line or tripping over something on the set.

Live theatre and film are very different art forms, meant for different audiences, yet both are essential to an actor and having experience in both often helps better your acting. Theatre is familiar to people, while film is brand new. Plays are written and then adapted, while screenplays are adapted while they are being written, and theatre is unpredictable and actors have to be flexible and willing to work through whatever happens, whereas with film, you get as many chances as you need for things to be perfect.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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