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Word Count: 583
IRONY the Challenge of Acting Oscar Wilde And George Bernard Shaw Irony is another staple tool of wit in Style acting and it often seems to come effortlessly to British actors because the British rarely say what they mean The speech we hear is an indication of what we dont hear One way of looking at speech is to say it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness says British playwright Harold Pinter But I notice that some American actors other than native New Yorkers are made uneasy by the notion that what they are saying is a decoy from the true intention that the language distracts from what the character is actually thinking They worry that the underlying meaning is not obvious enough and in their attempts to communicate it they destroy all irony because if it isnt delicate its not irony Its nudgenudge or worse Meaning one thing while saying something else is like singing a harmony with yourself and the dominant tune is the spoken words If they are convincing in their own right and the audience realizes the unspoken irony a second later its funny The character need not necessarily grasp the irony awareness is not always part of the equation Another form of irony springs from the contradiction between words and actions When this is deliberate it can be crude such as how very amusing said with a straight face Action should not reinforce an irony or it will overload it For example I like you already more than I can say should not be accompanied by a hostile stare In fact the action that accompanies irony should be ambiguously appropriate In other words it should be capable of being interpreted as the truth by the recipient and recognizable cover up by the audience Its a fine line to tread Wildes The Importance of Being Earnest is a minefield of irony and you will
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