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Stage vs Screen Acting

What do actors and actresses James Earl Jones, Jim Parsons, and Julie Andrews have in common? Well, other than having the letter ‘J’ in their names, they are the epitome of stars who have managed to excel in both screen and stage acting. Sure, stage and screen acting is different, but there are people out there who have mastered both. If you were looking to know how these two types of acting differ from one another, then it pays to read on.

Preparation and Performance

Stage acting occurs in real time. You will find many theatre actors spending numerous hours developing their quirks and characters’ personalities, through rehearsals. They even spend time memorising lines before appearing on stage. However, stage actors are required to be quick on their feet, despite all the rehearsals they go through. The quickness is critical for fixing anything that may go wrong during the real stage performance. Forgotten props, missed cues, a wardrobe malfunction, or dropped lines; these things do happen in the theatre, but the show must continue anyhow. Stage acting can be involving, but actors must be able to deliver excellently each time they pull on their costumes.

In film or screen acting, there is nothing like a real-time performance. If a line is missed, an actor can quickly fix it by referring to the script. There is one challenge though. In film acting, scene shooting happens out of sequence due to the weather, the time of the shooting, or budgetary concerns. Camera actors may be required to perform intense scenes, involving lots of screaming and running, which may closely be followed by smiling and laughing scenes. In such a case, there isn’t enough time for the actors to mentally adjust between the scenes, and this has the potential of draining the actors emotionally. Film actors should also be able to handle any impromptu changes in scripts; hence, they must get used to memorising a whole new script section on the go. Actors who struggle remembering things can use brain training apps to improve their memory. An app like Fit Brains Trainer or CogniFit Brain Fitness can work wonders.

Voice and Volume

Stage actors have only one chance to get it right during a live theatre performance! This is the reason why stage actors must possess a healthy and robust voice, and memorise lines perfectly. Whether microphones will be used or not depends on the production budget or the show itself. But with or without microphones, line memorisation and performance must be done accurately, with clear enunciation and crisp diction. Actors in musicals must deliver lyrics and notes correctly the first time. Live theatre performances do not involve do-overs.

On the other hand, screen performance actors have what is known as ‘multiple takes’ to get their performance right. In the event of slurred diction, words mess-up, or line stumble, the scene can be redone. Actors usually go back to fix any errors and re-record the scenes.