Monday, June 11, 2012

ON ACTING: The Potential for Emotional Vulnerability

Before a performance, the actor must create their potential for emotional vulnerability. That is, they must stimulate in their rehearsal their capability and willingness to subsequently feel deeply during the scene when stimulated by other's words and events in the scene. This is often called the actor's "emotional preparation" for the scene.

A few thoughts on "emotional preparation:"

Emotions do not have to be learned by an actor. They are all already deep within them, fully created neurologically by the time they are a small child. All they need is to be freed up (activated; stirred up) by the actor for his subsequent use on stage or on screen.

In performance, no actor's emotion is a priori good or bad, moral or immoral. They are all proper for the actor to use - subject only to the demands of the character and the need for audience excitement. The audience during performance will decide the propriety. morality or ethics of a character's emotion--and his/her resultant character actions--but only after the actor-as-character has freely used them and made them subject to that audience judgement. Actors: don't pre-judge. You are the character's advocates; the audience is the judge and jury.

The Potential for Emotional Vulnerability is just that: a potential state. It is part of the "preparation" for a scene. Before the scene, actors make themselves willing to feel the love, sadness, fear, silliness, etc. appropriate to character arousal during the scene; so that these emotions will be capable of fully and excitingly arising in the actor when stimulated by the words and deeds perpetrated upon the actor in the scene. In other words, actor: don't let your sadness, love, fear or silliness in the scene arise until the actual words and events of the scene CAUSE them to arise. Preparation for emotional vulnerability is creating the potential for feeling; performance is the actual blossoming of the prepared feeling.

Emotions are complicated beyond our understanding. Knowledge of our emotions goes only so far in rehearsal anticipation. (Let's face it, the science of emotions is a new science, and not a very exact one at that.) Therefore, we cannot predict or control exactly the full width or depth, texture or tome, of a performance emotion. A great part--and delight--of an actor's performance is the spontaneous discovery of the fullness, richness and profundity of these heretofore imprecise and unknowable complex human emotions.


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