Sunday, June 01, 2008

ON ACTING: Activating Emotions Before A Scene

How do I make my emotions more deeply felt during a scene?

Part of an actor's work in preparing for a scene (or for that matter a career of scenes) is to emotionally exercise, to encourage oneself through practice and mental effort to feel during performance feelings (1) that are exciting to an audience, and (2) that the everyday person (which includes the actor in everyday life) would rather not be feeling: rage, lust, extreme sadness and loneliness, etc.

Remember: our job as actors is to feel more deeply than the audience so the audience can then feel more deeply though us. We lead the audience to the deepest part of themselves by our example.

Human beings, actors and non-actors alike, are great caverns, repositories, of feeling, great rooms of stored emotional experience carved by the events of our lives. But over time, most of us fill up those caverns through and with fear, and insensitivity, forgetfulness--all the elements that enable us live (logically enogh) stable, balanced, quiet lives.

And we should be glad for our balance--glad to reduce emotional intensity and imbalance that, if not modulated, would exhaust us; imagine if we lived with great, unending, exciting emotional intensity 24/7/365; we would wear out.

But we do sometimes miss the highs (and lows) that a rich emotionally exciting life provides. So, rather than throw ourselves into real everyday emotionally activating experiences that might have on us deleterious long term real consequences, we go to the theater (such a safe, nice non-judgemental place!!!) to experience in, as I say, a safe controlled situation, and at a time and duration of our choosing, and with friends and lovers, those theatrically heightened special experiences of sexuality, flowing tears, or side-splitting laughter.

The chore, as actors, is to achieve that susceptibility to extreme emotional activation, to carve out--prior to the scene, and anew--those vast filled-up caverns of our experiences, to rid ourselves of the fears and doubts and insensitivity that have filled them up protectively in the interim. We do that by recalling fully and honestly our lives, confronting our old fears, challenging them, recalling the tactile memory of our past, cease forgetting the facts of our emotional existence.

It 'may hurt (in performance, again) for a little while'--as the song goes--but it will only last as long as the scene(s) lasts; oh, perhaps a short time after that, but our full caverns must be open throughout the performance in order to resonate with the full rich and reverberating echo of our emotions that acting requires, as the facts of the performed scene create their initiating sounds in us-as-actors.

Not to worry: after performance we will forget again, become dull again, desensitized, our caverns filled once again to a needed level of stable closure, once the scene is over. Long term survival as human beings--as well as actors--dictates nothing less.

Then, before the next scene, the process is repeated...and on and on.


Post a Comment

<< Home