Roleplay and Acting Philosophies

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Roleplay and Acting Philosophies

Post by EltanimRas » Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:58 am

Songweaver wrote:
tehkory wrote:Concerning thought, Nimrod. As an Administrator of an RPI--infact the HEAD Administrator of an RPI--you do need to realize and respect that while that's how some people play, it's not how others play. It's similar to acting, honestly, and Songweaver's a good source for more of this. This is along the lines of Classical Acting, I'd say: you take some of your life and use it to improve your character.
Right. A little off-topic, but probably worth a post, since Kory mentioned that I might have perspective on this. Not surprisingly, I do. :p

A few terms that really do translate well from the stage to roleplay:


The Outside-in-Actor focuses his energy and performance on the physical definitions of a character. How does he move? What does his voice sound like? Do his gestures extend from his head, or his hip, or his chest? Does he slash as he gestures, or does he flick? Where in his body is his center of gravity? The Outside-in-Actor then uses those physical definitions as the roadmap to determine the character's inner-workings. Very often, this type of actor makes for a very strong comedic actor, or detailed character actor.

You see this a lot in roleplay. A new character starts off as something of a cartoon, with heavy emphasis on the physical workings of him. Over time, those traits become more defined, and begin to inform the internal mechanisms of the character.

The Inside-out-Actor focuses his energy and performance on the internal mechanisms of a character. What are his emotional buttons? What are his goals? What are his strategies for achieving those goals? What are his points-of-view on other characters, on rules, on society, on nature, on everything? The Inside-out-Actor studies his character like a book, defines how his neurons jump from place to place, and then applies the lessons of those definitions to the character's physical manifestations.

You see this less often in roleplay. When you do see it, it is often with a character that does very little to begin with, but instead focuses on reacting (through thoughts and actions) to the world around them. As the character becomes more defined, physical traits and proactivity becomes more possible for the character.

The Method Actor strives to first understand his character through a process that is not too different than the Inside-out-Actor's. Once he does, he does whatever is in his power to affect his emotional and mental state, whether it be from forcing outside stimuli upon himself, or forcing himself to take on the traits of his character in real life to increase his comfort in playing the character. The Method Actor relies heavily on Strasberg's method of Emotional Recall, where he uses intense real life memories to force himself into a mindset closer to his character's. The Method Actor wants nothing more than to literally become his character for the duration of his performance. These actors tend to be the most insane, and sometimes, the most brilliant of the bunch.

You see some elements of this with roleplayers. Some few do use emotional recall when playing a scene. More commonly, roleplayers will use outside stimuli (like music) to try to help them feel as their character feels.

The Meisner Actor rebukes the ideals of the Method Actor. While the Meisner Actor's initial process is similar to the Inside-out-Actor's process, just like the Method Actor's, there is a much more studious approach applied here. The Meisner Actor seeks to understand their character so very well that they would know how their character would react to any given situation. Most importantly, the Meisner Actor believes that the primary tenant of acting is literal action. They score their script into beats, and define clear "action verbs" for every beat so that they allow for no nebulousness in their performance. They choose actions that support their character's short-term and long-term goals, and are often-times at odds with the other characters (who have their own, opposing "actions").

You see this approach at work with roleplayers, and often-times very good ones. They define their character's goals clearly, and then challenge other characters with meaningful conflict to achieve those goals -- knowing that the heart of a "good scene" demands multiple forces with opposing actions and goals to create exciting conflict. These types of actors/roleplayers think a lot, because it is the intellectual process of their characters that is most meaningful to them. Because the Meisner Actor is so intellectually focused, they can sometimes struggle to retain their clarity of purpose with unintelligent or "off-the-wall" characters.

The Natural (or "Hollywood") Actor makes a career out of manifesting their own natural personality in exaggerated ways, and then studying their character just enough to be able to shift their real life point-of-view only so much as is necessary by the script.

This is a very common trait in roleplayers. When a player tends to have many characters with very similar traits, without much variety in terms of speaking patterns or goals, it is because they are most often basing their characters off of an idealized version of themselves. While less nuanced in many cases, I don't see this type of roleplayer as a "bad roleplayer". They are simply strongest and most comfortable when playing a character that they are very, very familiar with.


These "actor archtypes" don't encompass every specific approach to acting, but they do show the full range of approaches, generally. What's most important, I guess, is that no suggested approach to acting encourages actors to take their real life frustration and apply it to their character, unless it is appropriate. Method Actors do use emotional recall, but they use it for very specific purposes and in very strategic ways.

I'm not sure that Nimrod was trying to say that he let his OOC frustration bleed into his character's IC inappropriately. I don't know the situation he's speaking of, so I have no clue at all.

That said, I would not encourage folks to transplant their reactive, real life emotional states directly onto their character, unless they come to realize that there is such parallel there that they would be amiss not to. Often-times, it isn't appropriate, and it can water down the consistency of your character.

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Re: Roleplay and Acting Philosophies

Post by Tykanis » Sun Aug 02, 2015 11:06 am

I have noticed that I am quite possibly one of the biggest natural actor ever, which is prolly why it takes a little less than a week to spot a character of mine assuming I am not the only one using dualwielded smalls again. :lol:
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Re: Roleplay and Acting Philosophies

Post by likui » Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:06 pm

I'm definitely Method.
Last edited by likui on Wed Aug 05, 2015 9:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Roleplay and Acting Philosophies

Post by cfelch » Tue Aug 04, 2015 9:33 am

I might be Meisner, or at least insideout.
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Re: Roleplay and Acting Philosophies

Post by Songweaver » Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:10 am

For what it's worth, my approach to roleplay is a little different than my approach to acting, since roleplay is basically improv.

I typically start outside-in to make a bold entrance or statement, and slowly transition to Meisner once I begin to figure out how my character might best serve the current atmosphere of a game.

In real life, my approach is almost entirely Meisner, though I do use a few Method tools (like Emotional Recall) backstage, before a scene. We call this "packing". It helps elevate our sense of stakes and emotional vulnerability, with the idea that those heightened emotions will spill out naturally on-stage when focusing on your "action" via the Meisner/Mamet technique.

I don't personally like using recall and other Method techniques on-stage, because I feel like it causes actors to become self-focused and not listen to the other actors on stage. While some Method actors are brilliant regardless of their self-focused nature, they often times require a strong hand from directors.

Example: Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp are Method Actors. When they aren't fiercely controlled and are allowed to just revel in their own character, they often seem like they are in a completely different movie than all of the other actors. Often-times, Method Actors can be considered "over-actors".

By comparison, Edward Norton and William H. Macy are two very dedicated Meisner/Mamet actors. You can see it in their eyes when they act; they are always "doing something" (a playable action verb) and trying to get something from another character in the scene with them.

Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp, on the other hand, very rarely even look at the other actors on camera with them.

Then again, lots of people love everything Streep and Depp do, so it's really a preference thing.

And some Method Actors are just so incredibly good (Daniel Day Lewis) that it doesn't matter who directs them.

It's a variable art form.

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Re: Roleplay and Acting Philosophies

Post by tehkory » Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:45 am

It's interesting, definitely, as we're less/more than authors and less/more than actors and less/more than directors.
Songweaver wrote: And some Method Actors are just so incredibly good (Daniel Day Lewis) that it doesn't matter who directs them.
He blows me away. He's just stunning. Far and away the best actor I could name. Last of the Mohicans is my favorite movie, and he makes it, as he makes every movie he's in.

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Re: Roleplay and Acting Philosophies

Post by seirza » Tue Aug 04, 2015 12:35 pm

I was more a natural actor as far as RP goes during the earlier years of my forum role-play prior to the discovery of games like SOI. I was convinced that rapid-fire was the way it needed to go, and the only way for me to accomplish that at the time was to not have to think, so making a character that mirrored my personality was the easiest option, cause all I had to do was think "Well, what if this was me? What would I do?"

That wasn't fulfilling for me after the first year, and I've shifted into a more outside-in through years to the present. I tend to flesh out the outer workings of my characters first, then develop their emotions as I get more into the character and the nuances of their story.

I sometimes still catch myself slipping into natural acting in overwhelming environments, but for the most part I've a grasp on it.
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