ON ACTING: The 'No-no' of Pretending to Look and Listen
A good actor, to ensure audience belief, must focus on other actors, must really read the newspaper on the table, must really scan the photograph in their hands. When an actor doesn’t, the actor’s eyes will have that glazed look, that blank ‘inner focus’ look.
Eyes are called the “windows to the soul” for good and logical reasons. They are an infinitely complex and startling composite of millions of cells, and when they engage in specific visual perception, there are real and discernible changes in eye composition.
These cellular changes in composition cannot be controlled by an actor’s voluntary nervous system; an actor cannot pretend to be looking; he cannot choose to make his eyes appear like he is seeing when he is not.
When the audience is confronted with ‘pretend’, or non-sensory involved acting (no matter how cleverly masked by the practiced bad actor), when the actor get a blank look on his face, the audience will become as emotionally uninvolved as the actor. “That was nice,” they say, exit the theater, soon forgetting that actor and his/her non-stimulating, unreal performance.