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Acting is the work of an actor, a person in theatre, film, or any other storytelling medium who tells the story by portraying a character and, usually, speaking or singing the written text or play. From the Latin word agĕre meaning "to do", this is precisely what acting is. It is the doing or acting out of something, but rather than doing so as himself, the actor places himself aside and assumes the role of another, commonly called a character. In acting, one subverts part of oneself to portray another, usually for the benefit of an audience, but also because it can bring one a sense of artistic satisfaction.

Actors are generally expected to possess a number of skills, including good vocal projection, clarity of speech, physical expressiveness, the ability to analyze and understand dramatic text, and the ability to emulate or generate emotional and physical conditions. Well-rounded actors are often also skilled in singing, dancing, imitating dialects and accentss, improvisation, observation and emulation, mime, stage combat, and performing classical texts such as Shakespeare. Many actors train at length in special programs or colleges to develop these skills, which have a wide range of different artistic philosophies and processes.

Modern pioneers in the area of acting have included Konstantin Stanislavski, Lee Straussberg, Uta Hagen, Stella Adler, and Sanford Meisner

For history and other detail, see actor.

See also: A list of theater terms

In law, when someone is said to be "acting" in a position it can mean one of two things.

For example, if the United States Secretary of State died suddenly in office, the United States Deputy Secretary of State would take over. However, he would only be "acting" in the position, as he will not formally hold the office until he is approved by Congress, as mandated by the United States Constitution.

Similarly, in present-day Iraq, where there is no constitution, all the ministers of the government are said to be "acting." For example, the "Acting Minister of Oil." Once a new constitution is created, and these offices are legally established, the ministers will cease to be "acting."

Acting for has the same basic meaning as "acting", except it indicates that the original occupant of the position still formally holds power.

For example, occasionally when Francisco Franco was too ill to exercise his powers, his deputy, Prince Juan Carlos was said to be "acting for" Franco. Franco was still formally the nation's leader, as he had not died or resigned, but Juan Carlos was executing the powers of the office.

See also: Acting President of the United States.