Monday, April 28, 2008

Knowledge is prelude to action

The student actor had studied for many years. She knew everything about acting, she had analyzed it backwards and forwards. She was pleased with her studies. She felt there was nothing more to learn. She was now an actor, she said. She was leaving class. I told her she had one more thing to learn before becoming an actor.

She was startled.

I told her the story of the man who had been with a psychiatrist for over ten years, visiting the doctor twice a week. At the end of that time the patient knew himself thoroughly. He knew his obsessions, his desires, his childhood traumas and his fears. He proclaimed himself finished with the psychiatric process. The psychiatrist agreed; then: "You are only half done." "Half done? What is there more to learn? I know everything about myself." "Yes," the psychiatrist agreed. You have nothing more to learn. But you must go out and live. Otherwise all your insights are for naught."

So, too with acing: Acting is a verb, not a noun; It means 'to do''. It is a dynamic living experience, not an inert body of knowledge. To understand without doing is to remain without understanding.


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