Some of you may not realize I am an actor. My experience and training is eclectic. My technique borrows from Stanislavski, Adler, Meisner, Strassberg and a myriad of others who’s names you probably don’t know. I even studied with Mark Lenard (Sarak from Star Trek)!
I was asked recently about the veracity of acting an emotion, such as joy, as Don Richardson recommends in his technique. As far as identifying an emotion it can be problematic because it can become mechanical and generic which is not in anyone’s best interest. For anyone wanting to get into acting, the thing to do is memorize a monologue or scene and put it in front of someone who knows how to do what you would like to be doing.
I’ve been doing some acting coaching, lately, mostly for film actors and am thinking about teaching again. I love the process and love getting performances out of people who don’t know anything about “acting,” because they often don’t come with too many bad habits, but not always. Bottom line is there is no one magic formula that fits everyone. Learn as much as you can from those whose work you admire and are generous enough to share the ancient knowledge.
Acting is mostly about listening. Most actors agree there needs to be an objective in a scene, broken down into beats, packed with specific, compelling actions/verbs. Some of my favorites, and these always depend on what is going on in the scene: “tear down the veil, belittle, open up, flatter, flush it down the toilet, beat myself up, rise up, explode, tear him a knew a-hole,” and a myriad of other verb combinations that mean something to me and focus my desire. The right verb will wake up memories in your body which require a release. I’m very physical until I find the character; then I bring it in and am very selective about my physicality. The cycle works with the breath and shit happens. I also target on the breath which helps convey the story, however, I do not act on the words. They have to be there, of course, but they do not matter. The process has to be experienced, not theorized about, however, like I’m doing now.
I’m also excited about the upcoming first reading of my play, Vincent John Doe, at Threshold Theatre on February 17th.