Saturday, March 10, 2007

ON ACTING: "Specificity"

Perhaps the two most important words in the lexicon of acting are 'active' and 'specific'.

All life, on or off stage, is an inevitable combination of both.

'Active' is the human body moving toward survival goals; and 'specific' is the central most fact about the world (the reality through which we 'actively' move through toward our goals): above all, it is 'specific'.

It is the five senses that register this specificity, and the registering of specific sensory experience of the world around us creates our emotion--which is the central transferal agent of acting performance to audience experiencing. The rule of human physics is: if there is no specific sensory experience, there can be no specific (and honest) emotional reaction.

Therefore, good actors must sharply look and listen, acutely smell, touch and taste, register all the tangible realities of their physical performance, as a prelude to emotional experiencing...and its subsequent resultant artistic expression.

To the good actor, a face is not simply a face: it is the nose, the chin, the color of the eyes. Even more specifically, it is the minute size and color of the pupils within those eyes, the curvature of the nose, and the roundness or sharpness of the chin. Specifics, specifics, specifics...the more detailed the sensory experience, the more rich and complex will be the emotional experiencing of those facts.

Another central truth of life: sensory experience is never lost on a human being after its initial registering. It continues within a person until 'death do us part'; it forevermore remains deep within humanklind, often referred to in acting as a 'sense memory'; perhaps forgotten by consciousness, but still within a person's neural circuits, and more cogently still, overlaid with the inner emotion that originally accompanied those now (perhaps) forgotten facts.

So...if an actor exercises his sensory-experience apparatus, works toward re-sensitizing themselves to the sense of sound, sight, taste, touch and smell, they can re-vitalize and re-invigorate their total historical emotional inner sensitivities as well. So that when the specific events of present reality--the play or film the actor is acting in--occurs and stimulates them, they will find themselves capable of feeling deep emotion...and that emotion will be more acute, powerful and dramatically effective.


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