When portraying a character in a fictional world the actor is faced with many challenges. To circumvent these challenges, he must become congruent with the reality of the fictional world. In order to do so, the actor has to ‘believe’ in the circumstances of the unfolding scene and live ‘in the moment’. These external circumstances act as stimuli which the actor uses to create and consequently ‘believe’ in the environment that the character inhabits. However, the use of green screen technology in special effects limits or eliminates these stimuli and the external circumstances. Green screen is a technique used in film and television that allows the filmmaker to film an actor in combination with a green screen and then replace the ‘green’ with anything the filmmaker requires. This allows for compositing to occur and the filmed reality to be manipulated. However, this technology challenges the actor’s ‘belief’ and behaviour, thus affecting congruence with and the (photo)realism of the created fictional world. In a green screen environment the actor is challenged to imagine, experience and act in line with the circumstances of the fictional world that will replace the green screen, instead of the green environment in which he finds himself.
One acting strategy that elicits imagination, action and feeling is Stanislavsky’s notion of the magic if. Accordingly, this dissertation proposes that this strategy can assist the actor in circumventing the challenges that arise when working with green screen technology. Stanislavsky developed his acting principles by observing human behaviour in an attempt to use the mind–body paradigm in circumnavigating the acting moment. The field of cognitive neuroscience has also investigated human behaviour and the mind–body paradigm and recent discoveries have increased understanding of the fields. These discoveries have validated the notion of the magic if and the components it incorporates. Yet, the discoveries surrounding the notion of the magic if and, subsequently, the increased understanding of the concept have not to date been applied to acting with green screen technology. It is therefore hypothesised that, by triangulating the challenges of ‘green screen acting’, the principles of the magic if and the knowledge gained from cognitive neuroscience, an acting strategy can be developed that will assist the actor in the green screen environment and thus create verisimilitude with the fictional world.
This hypothesis has led to the theoretical development of explorations that will strengthen the skills the actor needs in order to apply the notion of the magic if; as well as an acting strategy to assist the actor when entering the green screen environment.