Saturday, December 24, 2005

ON ACTING: Good Teachers are Good Doctors

Acting is the human body.

When a person visits the doctor's office for a check-up, the doctor, by intuition or by instument, incisively evaluates the patient's health; recognizes any symptoms of illness, and, if there are symptoms, diagnoses the underlying disease and proscribes curative medication (pills, nutrition, exercise, etc.). A patient would be rightfully aghast if the doctor just looked at the symptoms and said, "You're sick," and let it go at that.

Unfortunately I've seen more than a few teachers (and directors and casting directors) operate in just that fashion. They stand there and tell you what's wrong--i.e., what performance symptoms they don't like, and send you back into the fray. Period. A wise actor/patient should demand and expect state-of-the-art diagnosis and cure. When the actor's performance is ill, the patient should (1) expect the acting teacher or director to help the actor recognize specifically the actor's unhealthy symptoms, (2) describe the underlying acting disease that is causing those undesirable symptoms, and (3) guide him and her to positive and specific corrective action to efficiently attain good acting health.

If 1, 2 and 3 are not forthcoming, the actor/patient should seek a new doctor (or director, or teacher) as soon as possible..


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