Wednesday, June 11, 2008

ON ACTING: A Question of Personal Obstacles

She wrote: "How do I start working to overcome personal obstacles that inhibit my craft?"

Let's start by defining 'craft'. What do you mean by craft (I assume acting 'craft')? The craft of doing what; what are you trying to accomplish as an actor? What is the job of an actor? What is the purpose of acting itself?

Perhaps if we define the purpose of acting (moving an audience to the deepest fullest experience of itself) through our ability to perform excitingly ('really', 'conflictingly' and 'passionately') onstage or onscreen, then 'craft' becomes the best means of our achieving that.

I believe that all people have the inherent capacity to live excitingly, to live passionately in conflict, but most of us have allowed that capacity to be dulled in everyday life for personal protective purposes.

The central issue then becomes in "overcoming personal obstacles that inhibit our craft" our ability to analyze, define, accept and attack the personal inhibitions that keep us from acting excitingly, cautions we have picked up along the way in our lives.

HOW and WHY have we become inhibited (or frightened)? And WHERE are those inhibitory fears located in our memory structure? What caused them? How can we eradicate them--or at least put them aside long enough to perform excitingly when we act.

There are several approaches: (1) visits to a psychiatrist; (2) acting scene experience (confronting the fear head on); finding out in practice that we can survive the real, conflictual and passionate life of a scene--and perhaps actually learn to enjoy life head on; (3) emotional exercises and techniques that started for the most part with the great teacher Stanislavsky, and move on to the few great emotional teachers today; (4) an honest self-evaluation of one's past--identifying the sources of our fears. We must recall in detail the origins of those fears, and the events and people who gave them birth. We must learn to accept that those events are past: our father will never hit us again, that boyfriend we loved will never leave us again, our grandmother cannot die again, etc. We must believe the past is past; and when we do, onstage or onscreen, the present becomes a more exciting possibility.


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