Acting looks so easy on TV. So natural, so connected; so in the moment and honest. Each character living truthfully and responding in a way that is interesting, exciting, scary and sexy, all at once. Even in romantic comedies we see happy, truthful stories expressed with spontaneity and ease. It looks so simple! We can all do that, right?
Yes, we all can. The key is to become relaxed enough to share all that spontaneity with an audience. That is where training comes in, because I don’t know about you, but I am not by nature that relaxed and connected and interesting and scary and sexy all at once on any given day in normal life.
So there we are, trying to learn lines, act naturally, and just be ourselves, in a highly UN-natural situation. When we get up in front of people or a camera, our would-be happy-truthful-scary-sexy self heads for the hills and we become disconnected. When disconnected this is what happens in our brain: “how-should-I-say-this-line, should I smile, frown, be sexy, what is that anyway, am i blinking too much, why is my heart racing, oh god I forgot my lines again, why don’t they write things the way people talk, I would never say that, oh forget it the casting director doesn’t like me anyway, oh man, there’s that other actor who radiates confidence, gah, they all want so-and-so for the part more than me.” and to quote Eddy Izzard, Eh Voila! The happy-truthful-scary-sexy actor they would like to hire for the part, is draining out through your feet. We are a mass of personal contradictions that take us out of the game.
Actor training is about sensitivity to your surroundings and other people. It is about vulnerability and learning to be OK entering into the world of highly imperfect people in difficult situations. It’s not possible to do that perfectly. It is possible to share your most imperfect self, the one that makes mistakes and is affected by everything around you, in the moment. And after a considerable amount of time learning to relax enough to be that sensitive and vulnerable, you’ll find yourself back at the beginning again, wondering what the big deal was in the first place. And it is a huge deal to get to that point.
Some of us have a longer road to this connection, based on past conditioning. That’s where acting classes come in really handy. The first step of the journey is really toward becoming a more present human being. It is possible do it in your daily life and it may get you to your goal of approaching scripts with ease and commitment. Your friends might appreciate your increased sensitivity and attention to them! Personally, I choose to share time in the studio with other actors moving toward that same goal. It gives me the structure and the pressure of accountability. It gives me an audience to practice letting go of self judgement and fear. Wait did I say Fear?
Well, that’s a whole different blog post! And I’ll share it next week. Thanks for reading.