What is the Difference Between Theatre and Film Acting?
For new actors, the question often arises, what is the difference between theatre and film acting? While many of the basics are similar and many of the same techniques are applied when building a character and breaking down a scene, when it comes to the actual production, there are a lot of differences. In theatre acting, there are no second takes, no hiding of mistakes and you are in front of a live audience. Theatre actors are given the daunting task of performing the same production over and over while being believable, staying high energy and usually in front of large crowds. Film actors have the opportunity to try different techniques, ad lib, fub a line or two, give another take until the director is happy and are performing in front of a much less judgmental group, their crew.
Theater actors rely much more on their voices and body movement to convey their character’s emotions. They have to perform in a way that audience members in the back of the theatre can connect to their character and the scene. Film acting much more relies on internal feeling. The camera reads everything. If you aren’t really connecting with your character and really “in the moment”, the lens is going to know.
Theatre acting allows the actor to flow. Since the theatre show is live, the story is usually told in a consecutive order. This allows the actor to flow freely through emotions. Film acting is much different. Film shooting schedules are usually based solely off location. If they have 4 scenes that take place in a interior house, 6 scenes at a funeral, 10 scenes that occur at a wedding and 3 restaurant scenes, the movie is going to film by location regardless of how the story goes. You could be filming a dramatic love scene and the next scene could be a terrible fight if both of those scenes in the movie take place in the same location. It is emotionally taxing on actors and takes a lot of skill to be able to switch emotions believably so quickly.
Another big difference is the instant gratification. Theatre actors are praised immediately for their work. The audience goes wild and you feel great about the work you just did. If one night doesn’t go so well, you can work on it and come back the next night and dazzle the audience. Film actors must wait months and sometimes even years to see their work. They must wait for the film to be edited and may have to go in to do some extra voice over work or re-film a scene that didn’t quite turn out right. Once you wrap your filming and the movie is complete, what’s done is done. These are just some of the main differences. As you can see, there are benefits to both, while both also have to work a little harder in other areas. If you aren’t sure which type of acting you are interested in, you should just take a film acting class and a theatre class. You always want to be a well-rounded actor, you never know what opportunities could come your way.