Two years ago I put these links in separate posts, but have combined them here. These are some useful articles written by Adam Gertsacov about acting in the commedia dell’arte. They are not long, and are fun reads. I think they represent an approach to acting which is more appropriate for cartoon characters. Most “Acting for Animators” lessons come from actors who are trained in modern dramatic performance. Commedia performance is much different from that. It’s much more energetic and straightforward. “Method” acting is great for serious roles, but I’m talking cartoons here.
Here is a great quote from the first article:
If you were walking by and saw two commedia actors working on a scene– you shouldn’t think it was part of the everyday street life. You’d stop and take a look, and maybe call the cops about two weirdos acting kind of crazy.
Checkhov of course was a playwright, and his characters are deep and complex. Cartoons are not.
Adam uses the term “appetite” instead of “motivation.” I think the word appetite is way better for describing what drives a character. It’s more visceral, more from the gut.
I can recall watching animators shoot reference video, and doing the same thing over and over with each take. Before shooting reference, read this article:
The title of this post alone should make you want to read the article. “Animate the Inanimate” It is about acting with a static mask. Most animated characters have mobile faces, but focusing on the performance without the face moving is one way to strengthen the overall effect.
And here is a nice video with some commedia acting lessons.