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The Actor and the Audience

Actors, even when they are well rehearsed, can never fully anticipate how well they will perform before an actual audience. The actor who has been brilliant in rehearsal can crumble before an audience and completely lose the "edge" of his or her performance in the face of stage fright and apprehension. Or—and this is more likely—an actor who seemed fairly unexciting at rehearsal can suddenly take fire and dazzle the audience with unexpected energy, subtlety, and depth. One celebrated example of this phenomenon was achieved by Lee J.Cobb in the original production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, in which Cobb had the title role. The presence of an audience can affect performance in other ways as well. Roles rehearsed in all solemnity can suddenly turn comical in performance; conversely, roles developed for comic potential in rehearsal may be received soberly by an audience and lose their comedic aspect entirely.

Sudden and dramatic change, however, is not the norm as the performance phase replaces rehearsal: most actors cross over from final dress rehearsal to opening night with only the slightest shift; indeed, this is generally thought to be the goal of a disciplined and professional rehearsal schedule. Holding back until opening night, the once-popular acting practice of restraining emotional display until opening night, is universally disavowed today, and opening night recklessness is viewed as a sure sign of the amateur, who relies primarily on guts and adrenaline to get through the performance. Deliberate revision of a role in performance, in response to the first waves of laughter or applause , is similarly frowned upon in all but the most inartistic of theaters today.

Nevertheless, a fundamental shift does occur in the actor's awareness between rehearsal and performance, and this cannot and should not be denied; indeed, it is essential to the creation of theater art. This shift is set up by an elementary feedback: the actor is inevitably aware, with at least a portion of his or her mind, of the audience's reaction to his or her own performance and that of the other players; there is always, in any acting performance, a subtle adjustment to the audience that sees it. The outward manifestations of this adjustment are usually all but imperceptible: the split-second hold for a laugh to die down, the slight special projection of a certain line to make sure that it reaches the back row, the quick turn of a head to make a characterization or plot transition extra clear.

ln addition, the best actors consistently radiate a quality known to the theater world as presence. lt is a quality difficult to describe, but it has the effect of making both the character whom the actor portrays and the self of the actor who represents that character especily vibrant and in the present for the audience it is the quality of an actor who takes the stage and acknowledges, in some inexplicable yet indelible manner , that he or she is there to be seen. Performance is not a one-way statement given from the stage to the house; it is a two-way participatory communication between the actors and the audience members in which the former employ text and movement and the latter employ applause laughter, silence, and attention.

Even when the audience is silent and invisible—and, owing to the brightness of the stage lights, the audience is frequently invisible to the actor—the performer feels its presence. There is nothing extrasensory about this: the absence of sound is itself a signal, for when several hundred people sit without shuffling, coughing, or muttering, their silence betokens a level of attention for which the actor customarily strives. Laughter, gasps, sighs, and applause similarly feed back into the actor's consciousness-and unconsciousness—and spur (or sometimes, alas distract) the actor's efforts. The veteran actor can determine quickly how to ride the crest of audience laughter and how to hold the line just long enough that it will pierce the lingering chuckles but not be overridden by them; he or she also knows how to vary the pace and/or redouble his or her energy when sensing restlessness or boredom on the other side of the curtain line. Performance technique, or the art of reading an audience, is more instinctual than learned. The timing it requires is of such complexity that no actor could master it rationally; he or she can develop it only out of experience.



Those who had observed his acting of the part in rehearsal were unprepared for the quality of his performance before a live audience.

这句话的翻译也不知道是不是,我认为的定语有问题。但是这句话想表达的是his acting在彩排时候的质量是不行的。如果你认为unprepared 无准备的,那大概是错的。我觉得这句话的unprepared  不乐意的;不情愿的;不甘心的 才对。换个词应该是unpleasant。总之就是有一点不满。因为这个人在彩排的时候的质量和在现场的质量完全不一样,大家就甭想在彩排的时候看到和live audience一样的质量。






Question 8 需要你精读第5自然段。


A说actor必须well prepared明显是错的;E选项说demonstrate presence就receive attention both on and off stage,这种说法其实也不对,应该不是both on and off;F选项说没经验的actor快速learned how to hold time when audience is laughing,这显然不可能,没经验怎么hold time?


  • rehearsed 排练
  • anticipate 预料
  • brilliant 杰出的
  • crumble 崩溃
  • edge 优势
  • stage fright 怯场
  • apprehension 忧虑;担心
  • dazzle 炫
  • subtlety 细微之处;微妙之处
  • celebrated 著名
  • phenomenon 现象
  • Lee J.Cobb 李·科布
  • Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman 阿瑟·米勒的推销员之死
  • title role 头衔角色
  • solemnity 严肃
  • comical 滑稽
  • conversely 反过来
  • soberly 严肃地;严肃;清醒地;冷静地
  • comedic 喜剧片
  • reverse 相反 (这个单词看不懂直接丢分)
  • norm 规范
  • disciplined 严格要求(自己)
  • restraining 约束
  • disavowed 拒绝;否认
  • recklessness 鲁莽
  • amateur 业余
  • guts 胆量
  • adrenaline 肾上腺素
  • Deliberate revision 有意修改
  • applause 掌声
  • frowned 皱眉头
  • inartistic 虚假的
  • Nevertheless 尽管如此;不过;然而
  • essential 极其重要
  • elementary 基本的
  • inevitably 不可避免地
  • subtle 微妙的
  • outward 表面的;外表的;外出的;向外的;朝外面的
  • manifestations 表现
  • imperceptible 不可察觉的
  • characterization (对书或戏剧中人物的)刻画,描绘,塑造;描述方法;界定方法
  • plot 情节
  • transition 过渡
  • devote 奉献
  • radiate 辐射
  • portrays 刻画
  • vibrant 朝气蓬勃
  • inexplicable 莫名的
  • indelible 不可磨灭
  • manner 方式
  • participatory (体制、活动、角色)参与式的
  • interaction 相互作用
  • spur 刺激
  • extrasensory 超感官的
  • shuffling 拖着脚走;(笨拙或尴尬地)把脚动来动去;坐立不安;洗(牌)
  • muttering 嘀咕;嘟囔;
  • betokens 预示;表示
  • customarily strives 习惯地努力
  • alas 唉
  • distract 分心
  • veteran 老将
  • crest 波峰;到达山顶(或浪峰);到达洪峰;达到顶点
  • pierce 刺穿 
  • lingering chuckles 缠绵的笑声
  • overridden 覆写
  • pace 步伐
  • redouble 加倍
  • sensing 感测
  • restlessness 躁动不安
  • boredom 无聊
  • instinctual 本能
  • complexity 复杂
  • rationally 理性地


  • dazzle the audience with unexpected energy 以意想不到的能量使观众眼花缭乱
  • with only the slightest shift 只有一点点的变化(绝大多是演员都是这样的,谁会和排练的时候出现很大的出入呢?)
  • the quick turn of a head




This article was last edited at 2021-02-27 19:33:07

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