SCOT Suzuki Company Of TOGA

SUZUKI’s Philosophy
of Theatre
  • The Theatre’s Mission Ⅰ
  • The Theatre’s Mission Ⅱ
  • Culture is the Body
  • Theory of Acting
  • The Promise of Theatre

A Fundamental Technique and Theory of Acting

I. To act, one must have a point of view.

“Acting” is the formal act or experiment that tries to convey a particular point of view, derived from an investigation of human behavior and relationships. It can also be seen as a kind of game that intrinsically motivates us—visually through the human physique and aurally through the spoken word. Dating back some 2,500 years to its origins in ancient Greece, the rules of this game have come to differ vastly depending on geography, history and culture. Yet this “game” is not something people undertake simply for recreation and pleasure. Acting is an art form, creatively examining how human beings exist within the systems and groups that maintain social life.

It follows that an actor’s performance is driven by a desire to make others re-evaluate the world and perceive it anew, both collectively and as individuals. Thus, either for their own sake or on behalf of a particular group, the actor incarnates the written word via a physical and vocal exploration that follows a specific set of rules. If this effort succeeds in sharing a unique point of view on the written text with many people, we call it acting. In this way, performance is based on the presence of the “other”, and the higher the actor’s need to involve others in achieving his or her goal, the more intense their actor’s awareness becomes.

Although acting’s origins can be traced back to religious rituals that emphasized commonality, it was the presence of the non-believing “other” that galvanized theatrical acting into an independent, deliberately artistic form. The Ancient Greek and Nô traditions are good examples of this sort of evolution, not unlike what a child experiences as it grows up and separates from its parents, gaining a deeper sense of itself through encountering conflicting social structures and belief systems. Ultimately, acting is derived from a similarly developed evaluation/awareness of society that is both artificial yet organic and unique—an ongoing epiphany that sheds light on how and why we choose the relationships we have with particular individuals and groups.

II. For acting to begin, one must have an audience.

A heightened awareness of displaying one’s body and communicating written language can only be achieved when another person observes it. Even though actors may not be able to see themselves or the others sitting in front of them, they can still be aware of a presence—be it human, animal or god—that is watching their movements and hearing their language. Once actors perceive this presence outside of themselves in space, they quickly form a desire to communicate their point of view, stimulating this presence with a written text made flesh through physical and vocal craft. When the accumulation of these efforts is distilled into a clear, effective form, acting begins. Thus, for performance to take place, the presence of the other is indispensable. Nowadays this other’s existence is referred to as “the audience”.

III. To sustain acting, an awareness of the invisible body is required.

The human body has certain essential needs that must be met to support life. An infant can survive without any kind of body-awareness, but it heavily depends on the help of others. Even though its heart beats automatically, it must still be given food. For the infant to become independent, it must learn to consciously control the key physical functions required to achieve its daily needs, the most important of which are (1) energy production, (2) breath calibration and (3) center of gravity control. Since none of these phenomena—energy, oxygen and center of gravity—can be seen with the naked eye, they do not receive a lot of attention in our daily life. However, as soon as we have problems with any one of them, it becomes difficult to maintain our health and participate in modern society. This is due, in part, to the interdependency of these particular functions. The more energy the body produces, the more oxygen it needs, which in turn intensifies the breathing. When the breathing intensifies, it challenges the body’s balance, or center of gravity control. Training exists, then, not only to grow our capacity in each of these functions independently, but also to deepen and fortify their interrelation. The more we are able to fluidly expand the process of producing energy, taking in oxygen and maintaining balance with our center of gravity; the more variety of movement becomes available to us, which in turn increases the stability and sustainability of life. Essentially the same principle can be applied to acting on stage. Through disciplined, integrated development of these three parameters, the body gains strength and agility, the voice acquires range and capacity and an awareness of the “other” grows. Such work develops the expressive potency needed to transmit the actor’s point of view. It follows, then, that the core requirements for the art of acting lie in disciplines created to deepen an awareness of these three crucial, interrelated, “invisible” phenomena.