Role Specialization

Also found in: Acronyms.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Role Specialization


an actor’s specialization in roles that are similar in type and are designated by a standard term. The name of the type of role is usually based on the character’s main function in a play—for example, the lover for handsome, intelligent, and noble youths who are either loved or in love; and travesty for the roles of youths, boys, and adolescents performed by women. The character’s main trait may give the type its name—for example, hero, tyrant, noble father, ingenue, coquette, and so on.

Role specialization was due to two converging processes in theatrical history: the carrying over of the same character from play to play and the establishment of an acting tradition which limited the possibilities for individualized interpretation of a role. As a result, acting methods were standardized to conform to the types depicted. Specialization in types of roles is alien to realism, with its complex grasp of human character. The Moscow Art Theater came out strongly against the idea of specialization. The Soviet theater aspires to prepare actors with a broad range of roles, and therefore the practice of role specialization is not followed. Many progressive figures in theaters abroad adhere to the same principle.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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