Quotation by Stark Young

This gift of mimicry in the actor is like a gift for likeness in a painter. Such a knack will not make his drawing fine, but it will give him a kind of solid reality which he can begin with and which he can alter and force to his own ends. The painter, for example, takes the landscape as the material for the expression of his idea; it is plain that he can express his idea more adequately if he knows the exact appearance that he works from, and that we, on the other hand, by knowing just what he has done to this material know better what he has expressed. In order to translate a gesture into elegance or extravagance or drunkenness an actor may best begin by being able to reproduce the actual literal gesture that he sees in life. To that literal and basic gesture the shortest cut lies in the power of mimicry. All of which amounts to saying that it is from this actual, literal gesture and the knowledge of what it would be in any given case that all style evolves.
Stark Young (1881–1963), U.S. novelist, drama critic. The Theatre, ch. 9, Hill and Wang (1958).
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