This essay is to define a difference between a multi-skilled performer and a one dimensional actor. It will be explained using examples of theatre companies, mainly focusing on the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and Forced Entertainment. A one dimensional actor being a single scope theatrical performer. An actor who has solely been trained to act. At the other end of the scale a multi-skilled performer being a form of many trades. The multi-skilled could be viewed in many ways.
For example people in the west end can sing, dance and act, but the essay won't mention this because these examples are just variations of one skill. The essay is to explore the theatre companies who are multi-skilled, who can do more than just one job and aren't multi-talented like a circus act. My personal favourite is that of the multi-skilled performer. Why have many people doing lots of jobs when only one will do, to many cooks spoil the broth? Is the one dimensional actor making way for the multi-skilled performer, or do they have to? Partly my opinion is biased because of the generation that I grew up in.
Away from the performing institution people are trained to become multi-skilled throughout life. Children doing GCSE's do many varied subjects from Information Technology to English so when they look for a job they are a person of many trades and become more employable. Multi-skilled people have more opportunities because they have more skills that can be applied into the work force. In the business world multi-skilled too is more applicable.
More skills mean more efficiency and fewer employees therefore less outcome and more income. After a web search of multi-skilled surprisingly the majority of the links were relating to business and how they strongly recognise being multi-skilled. So why can't this theory be accepted into the arts industry? The theory of multi-skilled is in practise through the avante-guard with companies like Forced Entertainment. They are a group of artists who work together and collaborate to produce a whole performance from scratch.
The populist movement don't practise multi-skilled as much, they employ one dimensional actors. Why does the industry have to stay behind? .".. an acceptance of everything a feeling that change is always constant and that adaption is the only key to survival". (web). The arts world may be lacking behind in some respect but the idea of multi-skilled is being practise throughout the avante-guard and does the populist spring from the avante-guard, so eventually the populist too will become full of well skilled people instead of singly skilled persons. But I have much research to believe that the populist world wants to become multi-skilled and making excuses that they are, "The past 30 years have given actors and actresses the opportunity to perform in cinema, television and radio as well as on stage. Leading artists of many nations have been able to exercise their talents in all three fields". (The Performing World of the Actor by Clive Swift, 1981).
But from this quote these are not different skills but, the same talent performed in different spaces. Also a similar example "Within the theatre structure that exists today the various job titles that people are given will very rarely denote a standard function. A member of staff by be called a stage manager but will in truth be production manager, stage manager, deputy stage manager, assistant stage manager and floor sweeper all rolled into one" (Stage Management: A Gentle Art by Daniel Bond) Aren't the examples in the quote just different names for the same job? After slightly delving into the business industry and how multi-skilled employees are more employable, an aim or hypothesis sprung has (or should) the one dimensional actor given way to the multi-skilled?
To prove the point right it had to be proved wrong. Many of the research is based on actors of one trade were published at least two decades ago. People have just accepted multi-skilled as a profession and part of our culture. But Micheal Kirkby talks about one dimensional acting recently as some people do and try to cling onto that tradition, .".. the simplest acting is that in which only one element or dimension of acing is used". (Michael Kirkby, 1995) Tradition is of great importance to our society and the one dimensional actor is like a tradition in the way that it is greatly accepted and is a working theory of many years. But why just be an actor, like Martyn Hepworth explains, .".. no-one should consider himself to be just an actor".
The Royal Shakespeare Company is very hegemonic to this country and wants to keep certain traditions of the Elizabethan period. They pigeon hole the different jobs for the different people. Each person has a separate role, don't collaborate and only interact through the directions and the director. The multi-skilled concept may appear more practical but certain companies like the Royal Shakespeare Company do prefer to stick to the routine that works and are not partial to change. This is what was found throughout most research involving the one dimensional actor. If the formula works why change it!
The Royal Shakespeare Company performs to the public and wants bums on seats. There funding is mainly through the government who donate lb 12 million per year to this company but the program the Royal Shakespeare Company is strongly guided by the government and little creativity is needed. This is unlike Forced Entertainment who receives no government funding so therefore have the complete creative freedom. The system of more income and less out come will only truly work in the populist work because that is where the money is to be made in the theatre. But the avante-guard have the creative freedom but no money, whereas the populist are told how to act with no creative freedom, but have money. Proving the hypothesis of the one dimensional making way for the multi-skilled was not a hard task as many people had strong opinions on keeping in with past traditions like Martyn Hepworth describes (1978) .".. even the smallest part requires the actors full concentration to play well and it is as well if he is not distracted from it by other responsibilities...
". Is it true that an actor can't do more than one job well? Forced Entertainment, a successful performance art group appear to manage and all other performance artist like how Microsoft Encarta describes (1999) a performance artist. ".. performance art came to describe more modest theatrical events often involving only one person who was not only the performer but also the writer and director". Rehearsal schedules too are different from that of the Royal Shakespeare Company (populist) and Forced Entertainment (avante-guard). The RSC rehearsals include discussion of play, readings of other plays / novels with a similar theme and period. At the weekend is there for the actors to improvise scenes with more 'freedom' (as taken from Staging Shakespeare at The New Globe by Pauline Kiernan) There is little freedom for the actors because they are told how to act by the director, nothing is improvise except inside the directors head.
"Each play has its own history of past performances, many of which have been recorded in some form and can be experienced by us through a multitude of media" (Studying Shakespeare: A Practical Guide). Scripts, like Shakespeare can be performed through many different forms of media by mediation. Devised productions like that of Forced Entertainment are rarely seen away from a theatre forum or other defined spaces and are sometimes only performed once. Like Frank B, his performances are never the same twice, blood letting is has performance and when you bleed it never appears to be the same, same idea different genre.
Although tradition is pleasant to be kept, the world is constantly changing, although I was biased to begin with I don't think the research changed my opinion only reinforced it. Everything is changing and recognising a multi-skilled being as better and more employable. This should be more renowned through out the performing institute. Although if the formula works to get bums on seats, then it should be pursued but there is no harm in making a person more employable, why do one aspect of a job when you can do many? "Perhaps what's being suggested here is that in order to fully explore the range of possibilities which present themselves video artists must begin to understand the mechanics of context and adapts themselves accordingly" (Magazine - Performance February / March Edition) It proves that people should react to the changing of the times just like the changing of the seasons. The evidence found of a one dimensional actor is out dated because a multi-skilled is just accepted and expected within our society.
Bond, Daniel Stage Management: A Gentle Art Carlson, Marvin Performance: A Critical Introduction Routledge, London, 1995 Hepworth, Martyn Amateur Drama: Production and Management BT Bats ford Ltd, London 1978 Jones. R. E The Dramatic Imagination Theatre Art Books, New York 1969 Kier man, Pauline Staging Shakespeare at the New Globe Kirkby, Michael Acting (re) considered: On Acting and Non-acting Routledge, London 1995 Mccafferty, Micheal Directing a Play Phaidon Press Ltd, 1988 Swift, Clive The Performing World of the Actor 1981 Magazine: Performance February / March Edition Number. 52 Microsoft Encarta Encyclopaedia, 1999 web web web web web web web web.