Friday, October 07, 2011

ON ACTING: Losing Control

Actors are often worried about losing control...of the lines, of the story, and especially of their performance emotions.

When they feel their spontaneous performance threatens to emotionally or physically careen out of control (their frightened view), they put on the brakes. They pass every feeling impulse through their brains...especially the cognitive part of their brains, their conscious awareness of all their lines, blocking and other activities in the scene, including the emotions being felt at every moment in the scene. They lack the courage of spontaneity.

A great actor, on the other hand, is a brave actor, a courageous one. He or she allow their spontaneously generated emotions to originate, dictate and guide their actions...without consciousness aforethought.

They let the events of the scene happen to them, rather than the other way around. They do not let consciousness (conscious will) dictate their every action, rather than allowing--as it happens in everyday life (especially exciting life)--their perfomance to occur impulsively and spontaneously.

They are unable to live freely within the scene, trusting their emotional/muscle memory, garnered in rehearsal, to guide their performance.

In everyday life, when deciding to the convenience store by foot (the objective in the scene), we don't CONSCIOUSLY think about staying on the sidewalk when walking down the street, or looking at traffic before we cross the street. We trust our muscle memory to control us; we rely on our prior experience (life's rehearsal) to navigate us through city streets safely to get to the store. Just so, an engaged actor trusts his prior learning--his rehearsal--to AUTOMATICALLY keep him on the sidewalk of the scene and navigate through traffic (the other characters/actors and their own emotions) when crossing the street--and all this without conscious control.

Let it go, actors. Let our trained (and rehearsed) autonomic system (and its learned inner impulse control) dictate and guide our performance actions. We don't need the conscious control of the voluntary system to guide us through our every action...unless, of course, we haven't learned our lines, are resisting the director's blocking, and are afraid someone in the audience might find out our real emotions!! Laziness and fear are the real origins of an actor's desire for conscious control of a performance.

Remember: good acting is not for the lazy and cowardly. It is for the hard-working...and brave.


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