Monday, March 19, 2007


Bad (less than adequate) acting is often the manifestation of good everyday emotional survival techniques that can't be countermanded on stage or on set. For example: if everyday life, when shaking some one's hand, we appropriately back away give the other and ourselves space. Why? To reduce the anti-social tension of too-close proximity. This is smart behavior in life. But when the same actor gets onstage, and s/he once again instinctively backs away from an engaged hand, it is, while perhaps good in life, generally bad for acting.

On stage we want tension: so the good actor should more often than not invade some one's space--be "too close for comfort". Because, while comfort is desirable in everyday life; it is counterproductive to exciting drama on stage.

Another example: In everyday life, we often look away when someone stares at us. We avert the eyes of someone who seems to be "looking through us". And by looking away, by negating the stimulus of direct sight, we reduces tension, the emotional danger of an 'eye lock'; when that same person shakes our hand too tightly, letting their hand-touch linger with 'meaning', we either easily withdraw our hand or let it go limp.

On stage or off, sensory withdrawal is safety.

But when an actor finds themselves withdrawing in a scene, turning away from the direct glaze of another actor, backing away when the other actor gets too close, shrinking from their intimate touch...the actor should accept that what they are doing , while obeying the survival techniques of everyday life, they are not obeying the dictates of exciting acting life!

However, they should therefore not feel too guilty or remiss in that 'careful' emotional behavior. Backing away from over stimulation is an everyday-life tactic that is valid. But what the good actor must simply learn an alternative array of (exciting) behavior on stage: most often the direct opposite of their everyday survival techniques. In good acting, when someone stares at us, the good actor retorts to an other's 'eye lock' with the actor's own 'lock'. When someone touches us too intimately, we accept that invasion of physical privacy. We live in the danger zone of intimate physical proximity, receive and accept touch with intimate response and replay physically in kind.

Life on stage life an arena of safety; a 'green zone' of behavior. Personal behavior that would seem inappropriate in everyday life is welcome--nay, desired. The accepted law of personal behavior: live carefully in everyday life, live dangerously onstage (although agreed: finding the on-off switch between the two modes of behavior is often the greatest challenge to an actor's craft).


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