ON ACTING: The Need for Emotional Bravery in Acting
The presence of emotional variety in a scene, while invariably required for a compelling performance of a scene, is, like all the other elements of excellent acting, logical to an exciting life, on or off stage. Natural winners create emotional variety naturally; as the inevitable concomitant to their desire to win. “All right; here’s my anger. Now do I win?” No. “All right; here’s my sadness. Now do I win?” No. “All right; here’s my sexiness. Now do I win?”
Whereas an actor who plays a whole scene fixated on a single emotion is a frightened actor. You want to say to him, as we often say in everyday life to people who manifest that monochromatic tenacity in their pursuit of goals: “You seem to be more committed to being angry…or sad, or confused, or frightened…than achieving your goals.” Staying with one emotion throughout a whole scene is an example of inadequate acting born from emotional fear.
Emotionally inflexible people (limited actors) are emotionally frightened people; they are nervously careful of deep feeling. They are invariably tentative conflictors, afraid of feeling and exhibiting a variety of emotions in the pursuit of a goal. They are more comfortable with one or two emotions (emotions that have worked in the past, emotions which have subjected them the least difficulty when manifested in the past) irrespective of their present goal-seeking productivity.
Such actors who fixate on one or two tactical emotions even when those tactics don’t produce positive results are cowardly careful actors. A long scene should be a priori evidence to the actor that positive results are not easily forthcoming using the same old (enmotional) tactics. People who are committed to winning in a long scene would naturally shift tactics.
Emotional flexibility is built into the survival/winning mechanism: that is, the emotional system of a winner unconsciously and freely moves from one emotion to another until it finds the one that works. Only fear inhibits emotional range and flexibility of a good actor; thereby rendering the fullness of the human system unavailable to the actor for effective and varietal use in the scene.