Disney Acting versus Naturalism

Disney Acting versus Naturalism_550
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Disney Acting vs. The Rest Of The World

The art of acting is not to act. Once you show them more, what you show them, in fact is bad acting.
Anthony Hopkins
I have noticed a growing trend recently of ‘over-the-top’ acting which seems to be becoming a norm in the younger generation. I have noticed it more and more in auditions and when I am coaching young actors, especially for television work, one of the noted I am giving over and over again is to make it smaller, to strip away all of this ‘stuff’ which they seem to be doing and to try and find some truth in the work.
A lot of comedy on television seems to be bringing out the slapstick and farcical acting techniques of yesteryear. I see lots of people doing ‘what I call’ mugging.
There seems to be a growing habit of overacting which is spreading like wild-fire amongst the next generation of performers. The problem is that these performers are not just turning it on when they approach a slapstick sitcom which is asking for this kind of performance, they are doing it in all of their acting.
Over-acting amongst younger performers is becoming a trend, they emote far too much with their faces, deliver their lines in a knowing way and try to be funny. These auditions are painful to witness and will not get you a place at drama school or a job in the big bad world.
I can’t say that I haven’t done some bad acting in my time. I have. Usually that involves what we actors call ‘indicating,’ when you twirl your mustache.
Billy Campbell
What seems to be happening is that these young actors are learning their trade via Nickleodeon and Disney!
To see what I mean check out an episode of Hannah Montana or Jessie and you will witness this witless overacting. These american kids (and adults in these shows) are delivering their lines in a ‘I’m so funny’ way, the performances are far from realistic, they are heightened, over the top and ridiculous.
The video below shows exactly what I am referring to. Here you get a chance to compare two styles of acting: the new crazy, wacky, ‘aren’t I hilarious’ Disney method and the subtle, natural, realistic acting which is what an audition panel want to see.
Watch this video a few times, read the notes, try and see the difference and examine where you tend to fall, and what you could do differently.
You need to know how to be truthful on stage and screen before you can go ‘over the top’.
This article is inspired from an article by our good friends in the US The College Audition Blog. The video has their details at the end
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