ON ACTING: The First Time
Acting is a constant work in progress. The final truth or final reality of any scene does not happen until it happens. Just as no moment in time or event in our lives (think of the every different shapes of a snowflake) can be an exact duplicate of what went before, each performance must of necessity be new and fresh, waiting the actual give and take of the scene to determine the scene's final, precise form.
That is what 'being in the moment,' 'reality,' 'acting honesty,' and the other demands of real and spontaneous acting means: the actor must each time in every performance or 'take' newly look and listen, respond and relate to the other actors as if it is happening for the first time...which it will be if the actor has forsworn trying to duplicate the past (analysis, rehearsal, prior performance) and instead properly focuses his or her attention on spontaneously living the life of the scene.
Listen, look, feel and respond anew--each time--IN REALITY. Believe that rest of the true and moving performance will follow within the general outlines of what you did before. Your rehearsal and prior performances are somewhere in your muscle memory. Trust it.
I know it takes acting courage to live a performance fresh each time; we want to cling to the past as a crutch, a lifeboat in our sea of insecurity. But spontaneity is required; or the actor will never succeeed as an actor to the fullest extent possible.