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An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance also actress ; see below. Interpretation occurs even when the actor is “playing themselves”, as in some forms of experimental performance art. Formerly, in ancient Greece and Romethe medieval worldand the time of William Shakespeareonly men could become actors, and women’s roles were generally played by men or boys. In modern times, particularly in pantomime and some operas, women occasionally play the roles of boys or young men.
After in Englandwhen women first started to appear on stage, the terms actor or actress were initially used interchangeably for female performers, but later, influenced by the French actriceactress became the commonly used term for women in theater and film. The etymology is a simple derivation from actor with -ess added. Within the profession, the re-adoption of the neutral term dates to the post-war period of the and ’60s, when the contributions of women to cultural life in general were being reviewed.
Oscar for best actress. I’m an actor — I can play anything. An Equity spokesperson said that the union does not believe that there is a consensus on the matter and stated that the ” With regard to the cinema of the United Statesthe gender-neutral term “player” was common in film in the silent film era and the early days of the Motion Picture Production Codebut in the s in a film context, it is generally deemed archaic.
However, “player” remains in use in the theatreoften incorporated into the name of a theatre group or company, such as the American Playersthe East West Playersetc. Also, actors in improvisational theatre may be referred to as “players”. InForbes reported that ” On average, white women get paid 78 cents to every dollar a white man makes, while Hispanic women earn 56 cents to a white male’s dollar, Black women 64 cents and Native American women just 59 cents to that.
That means that Hollywood’s best-compensated actresses made just 40 cents for every dollar that the best-compensated men made.
The first recorded case of a performing actor occurred in BC though the changes in calendar over the years make it hard to determine exactly when the Greek performer Thespis stepped onto the stage at the Theatre Dionysus to become the first known person to speak words as a character in a play or story. Prior to Thespis’ act, Grecian stories were only expressed in songdance, and in third person narrative. In honor of Thespis, actors are commonly called Thespians.
The exclusively male actors in the theatre of ancient Greece performed in three types of drama: The theatre of ancient Rome was a thriving and diverse art form, ranging from festival performances of street theatrenude dancing, and acrobatics, to the staging of situation comediesto high-styleverbally elaborate tragedies.
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As the Western Roman Empire fell into decay through the 4th and 5th centuries, the seat of Roman power shifted to Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire. Records show that mimepantomimescenes or recitations from tragedies and comediesdancesand other entertainments were very popular. From the 5th century, Instruciton Europe was plunged instuction a period of general disorder. Small nomadic bands of actors traveled around Europe throughout the period, performing wherever they could find an audience; there is no evidence that they produced anything but crude scenes.
Early Middle Ages actors were denounced by the Church during the Dark Agesas they were viewed as dangerous, immoral, and pagan. In many parts of Europe, traditional beliefs of the region and time period meant actors could not receive a Christian burial. In the Early Middle Ageschurches in Europe began staging dramatized versions of biblical events.
By the middle of the 11th century, liturgical drama had spread from Russia to Scandinavia to Italy. The Feast of Fools encouraged the development of comedy. In the Late Middle Agesplays were produced in towns. These vernacular Mystery plays often contained comedywith actors playing devilsvillainsand clowns. Amateur performers in England were exclusively male, but other countries had female performers.
There were a number of secular plays staged instryction the Middle Ages, the earliest of which is The Play of the Greenwood by Adam de la Halle in It contains satirical scenes and folk material such as faeries and other supernatural occurrences. Farces also rose dramatically in popularity after the 13th century. Beginning in the midth century, Commedia dell’arte troupes performed lively improvisational playlets across Europe for centuries.
Commedia dell’arte was an actor-centred theatre, requiring little scenery and very few props. Plays were loose frameworks that provided situations, complications, and outcome of the action, around which the actors improvised. The plays utilised stock characters. A troupe typically consisted of 13 to 14 members.
Most actors were paid a share of the play’s profits roughly equivalent to the sizes of their roles. Unstruction theatre derived from several medieval theatre isntruction, such as the mystery plays” morality plays “, and the “university drama” that attempted to recreate Athenian tragedy.
The Italian tradition of Commedia dell’arteas well as the elaborate masques frequently presented at court, also contributed to the shaping of public theatre. Since before the reign of Elizabeth I, companies of players were attached to households of leading aristocrats and performed seasonally in various locations. These became the insteuction for the professional players that performed on the Elizabethan stage.
The development of the theatre and opportunities for acting ceased when Puritan opposition to the stage banned the performance of all plays within London. Puritans viewed the inztruction as immoral. The re-opening of the theatres in signaled a renaissance of English drama. English comedies written and performed in the Restoration period from to are collectively called “Restoration comedy”.
Restoration comedy is notorious for its sexual explicitness.
At this point, women were allowed for the first time to appear on the English stage, exclusively in female roles. This period saw the introduction of the first professional actresses and the rise of the first celebrity actors. In the 19th century, the negative reputation carf actors was largely reversed, and acting became an honored, popular profession and art.
A new role emerged for the actor-managerswho formed their own companies and controlled the actors, the productions, and the financing. They could enlarge their audience by car on tour across the country, performing a repertoire of well-known plays, such as those by Shakespeare.
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The newspapers, private clubs, pubs, and coffee shops rang with lively debates evaluating the relative merits of the stars and the productions. Henry Irving was the most successful of the British actor-managers. Instruftion company toured across Britain, as well as Europe and the United States, demonstrating the power of star actors and celebrated roles to attract enthusiastic audiences.
His knighthood in indicated full acceptance into the higher circles of British society. By the aftar 20th century, the economics of large-scale productions displaced the actor-manager model.
It was too hard to find people who combined a genius at acting as well as management, so specialization divided the roles as stage managers and later theatre directors emerged. Financially, much larger capital was required to operate out of a major city. The solution was corporate ownership of chains of theatres, such as by the Theatrical SyndicateEdward Laurillardand especially The Shubert Organization.
By catering to tourists, theaters in large cities increasingly favored long runs of highly popular plays, especially musicals.
Big name stars became even more essential. Formerly, in some societies, actra men could become actors. In ancient Greece and ancient Rome  and the medieval worldit was considered disgraceful for a woman to go on stage; this belief persisted until the 17th acctar in Venice. In the time of William Shakespearewomen’s roles were generally actqr by men or boys.
When an eighteen-year Puritan prohibition of drama was lifted after the English Restoration ofwomen began to appear on stage in England. Margaret Hughes is oft credited as the first istruction actress on the English stage. The first occurrence acgar the term actress was in according to the OED and is ascribed to Middleton. In the 19th century many viewed women in acting negatively, as actresses were often courtesans and associated with promiscuity.
Despite these prejudices, the instructuon century also saw the first female acting “stars”, most notably Sarah Bernhardt. In Japanonnagatamen taking on female roles, were used in kabuki theatre when women were banned from performing on stage during the Edo period.
By contrast, some forms of Chinese drama involve czrd playing all roles. In modern times, women occasionally played the roles of boys or young men. For example, the stage role of Peter Pan is traditionally played by a woman, as are most principal boys in British pantomime. Opera has several ” breeches roles ” traditionally sung by women, usually mezzo-sopranos. Women playing male roles are uncommon instruxtion film, with notable exceptions.
In the s, women playing men in live theatre is particularly common in presentations of older plays, such as Shakespearean works with large numbers of male characters in roles where gender is inconsequential.
Having an actor dress as xctar opposite sex for comic effect is also a long-standing tradition in comic theatre and film. Cross-dressing for comic effect was a frequently used device in most of the Carry On films. Doubtfirerespectively in which they played most scenes dressed as a woman.
The Movie instructin, filmwatchers never learn the gender of the androgynous main characters Pat and Chris played by Julia Sweeney and Dave Foley. Similarly, in the aforementioned example of The Marriage of Figaro, there is a scene instrkction which Cherubino a male character portrayed by a woman dresses up and acts as a woman; the other characters in the scene are aware of a single level of gender role obfuscation, while the audience is aware of two levels.
A few modern roles are played by a member of the opposite sex in order to emphasize the gender fluidity of the role. Edna Turnblad in Hairspray was played by Divine in the original filmHarvey Fierstein in the Broadway musicaland John Travolta in the movie musical.
Actors working in theatre, film, television and radio have to learn specific skills. Techniques that work well in one type of acting may not work well in another type of acting. To act on stage, actors need to learn the stage directions that appear in the script, such as “Stage Left” and “Stage Right”.
These directions are based on the actor’s point of view as he or she stands on the stage actwr the audience. Actors also have to learn the meaning of the stage directions “Upstage” away from the audience and “Downstage” towards the audience  Theatre actors need to learn blocking, which is ” Most scripts specify some blocking.
The Director also gives instructions on blocking, such as crossing the stage or picking up and using a prop.
Some theater actors need to learn stage combatwhich is simulated fighting on stage. Actors may have to simulate hand-to-hand [fighting] or sword[-fighting]. Actors are coached by fight directorswho help them learn the choreographed sequence qctar fight actions.
From to the late s, movies were silent films.