I wrote recently about the most important element of Earle Gister’s legacy as an innovator in the understanding and practice of the craft of acting: namely, his notion of action as a way of describing and understanding the way in which an actor, acting as a character, is engaging another actor/character in a section of a scene: Earle professed that that way of engaging could be characterized by saying how an actor/character was making another actor/character feel. It’s a revolution in the understanding of what acting is all about, as everyone who attended one of Earle’s classes knows.
(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’d suggest you read the post linked to above before proceeding, as the discussion is going to get quite technical)
I have been working with Earle’s notion of action for ten years as a teacher, and for longer than that as a director. So I have thought a lot about it. And one thing that caught my attention a while back was I realized that in Earle’s class, there were certain actions that came up again and again in his work on scenes. The actions he worked with most often were making someone feel needed, making them feel loved, and making them feel out of line.