Thursday, September 17, 2009

ON ACTING: Feeling on Demand

Tim A writes again:

"I was wondering how do you approach a scene when you're obligated to do or feel something? For example, an actor approaches a scene in a movie where he is breaking up with his fiancee, and in the scene, he eventually breaks down crying. How do you deal with the obligation to cry? There are some actors that crying comes easy to them, but not that's not always true with some."

My answer:

Remember, Tim, to begin with: no one wants to cry, only actors. But good actors can be made to cry by the other characters or events in a scene; that is, on demand, precisely when the script requires them to cry.

The key to developing this sensitivity factor to crying or any other emotion is to erase the human impediments to emotional response that the actor is victim of; often learned over a life time of survival; to de-callous-ize ourselves, as it were. Re-sensitizing oneself to fulfill the demands of and actor's life can be done, but it requires work.

There are, in fact, tried and true actor's exercises that can enable an actor to strip away the desensitized and calloused covering of emotions; to mention a few: 'emotional recall', 'sense memory', 'substitution', etc., so that the actor can, on demand, be made to feel the intense emotions required at precise moments by a script. (As introductions and supplemental reading when practicing the exercises ad techniques, I recommend the written works of Stanislavski, Strasberg, and a host of followers of their insights and techniques.)


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