Vaughan’s Vocabulary

Don Vaughan provides infrequently used words to strengthen your vocabulary.

In the Acting class I talk about three misconceptionsas to what an actor is to do: to be entertaining, to create emotion, and to create a character. These, however, are results of the acting process,

not starting points, nor the overall objective.

For a performance to be engaging, via whichever media – stage, small screen, big

screen, or found space theatre, the qualities of “sympatheia” or fellow-feeling

(when the audience recognizes the characters as fellow human beings), empathy

or in-feeling (when we “feel in” a character), and immediacy (this is where the audience perceives the performance as the living event itself, and not about an event). Found space theatre, incidentally, is where a performance takes place that was not intended for that use (for example, a classroom).

In an in-class praxis I play the role of Willy Loman, adorned in a dark suit with cuff links. Students take turns playing the role of Willy’s boss who is much younger than Loman. We strive to allow the three qualities to be perceived by the class. Oh, recently I played the role of Torvald Helmer and

began raising my voice and flailing my arms as I articulated the line “Small minded? You think I’m small minded?” After the exercise, a student told me that she was frightened by the character I was portraying.

1. The characters mentioned are from which two

plays?

A. “Much Ado about Nothing” – Shakespeare

B. “A Doll’s House” – Henrik Ibsen

C. “The Glass Menagerie” – Tennessee Williams

D. “Death of a Salesman” – Arthur Miller

E. “The Adding Machine” – Elmer Rice

2. Which word fits the concept of becoming the character?

A. vicariousness

B. aloofness

C. balefulness

D. banality

E. indefatigability

No. 1 is B and D. No. 2 is A; one of the meanings of vicarious is “felt or undergone as if one were taking part in the experience or feelings of another.”

3. praxis (PRAK-sus)

A. exercise or practice of an art, science, or skill

B. cui bono

C. genuine

D. complete

4. indefatigable (in-dee-FAT-ih-guh-bul)

A. untiring

B. taking on a new appearance

C. unwilling to admit or accept what is offered as true

D. demonstrative

No. 3, praxis, is A. Indefatigable, last week’s mystery word, is A.

This week’s mystery word to solve can be spelled from some of the letters in the last names of the playwrights mentioned in B and D under No. 1. The last syllable has the sound of the last name of the man known as “Light Horse Harry.”

Don R. Vaughan, Ph.D., of Eupora is a speech and theater professor at East Mississippi Community College, Golden Triangle. Contact him at dvaughan@eastms.edu.