ON ACTING: The Preparation Technique of "Prior History"
Imagined prior history works very well as an emotional exercise because it forces the actor to stir up their own complex and often contradictory emotions and experiences and to thereby make those emotions available to the actor-as-character in performance. (Not surprisingly, the imagined histories almost invariably reflect the actor’s personal and often complex histories! After all: who is doing the 'back- story' fictional imagining but the actor?!) The exercise then becomes a highly effective method for the actor to tap into and grant himself permission to feel what they are already capable of feeling, to emotionally open up and emotionally‘identify’ with the character through the fictional use of such character invented history. At core it is a trick to end-run one's own emotional reluctance: tricking-oneself into activating and using deep, often hidden (denied?) experiences and feelings one already has for subsequent use by the actor-as-character in performance.