Spring 2011

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ALL for ONE and Cast members of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire celebrate winning Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series at the 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. RIGHT: Clockwise, Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi and Lucy Danziger, played by Paz de la Huerta at the roulette table; Nucky meets with rival Arnold Rothstein, played by Michael Stuhlbarg, and their subordinates, to talk business; Jimmy Darmody, played by Michael Pitt, celebrates Christmas with his son and wife, Angela Darmody, played by Aleksa Palladino. greater than the sum of its parts. Like an impressionist painting, each brushstroke can be viewed individually, but all — in their variety of sizes, shapes and colors — are necessary to create the masterpiece. Russian actor Konstantin Stanislavsky, E famous for the approach to acting that bears his name, spoke of ensemble acting in reverent, almost sacred, terms. “In such an enterprise, one works for all and all for one. There must be mutual 28 SCREEN ACTOR - Spring 2011 nsemble acting is more than just three or more actors giving a performance. When done right, it creates a synergy, a mosaic in which the whole is responsibility…collective creative effort is the root of our kind of art. That requires ensemble acting and whoever mars that ensemble is committing a crime…against the very art he serves.” It is why Screen Actors Guild each year presents the outstanding ensemble award as a recognition that it is a kind of acting that demands its own approach. This year’s winner in the TV drama category was HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, a Prohibition- era series focusing on a politician-gangster played by Steve Buscemi. Aleksa Palladino, who plays Angela Darmody, said acting with the show’s large cast is a learning experience. “You’re always playing off of different types of creativity when you’re working with this many people,” she said. “You have so many different kinds of actors, that seeing how other people approach a scene keeps things fresh and teaches you more about your own process.” That interaction is a critical element in making the ensemble work for the audience. LISTEN UP! “‘Ensemble acting’ is another name for listening,” wrote Judith Weston in her book Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film and Television. It is true when performers are working with other actors, but it can be Kevin Mazur/

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