Sunday, February 23, 2014

Acting without Technique (almost)

Young people and others new to acting are often overly impressed with the magic that applying certain acting techniques are supposed to do for their performance.  It was strongly believed in the mid 20th Century that Method Acting was the approach that actors must use to be true artists.  Even today, there are new acting techniques being created by acting teachers.  I, myself, am guilty of doing that.
The problem with most techniques is that they force the aspiring actor to do a long period of exercises (perhaps for years---perhaps for the duration of one's career in acting) in order to prepare an actor to use the technique. Conversely, Tao acting simple asks the actor to just do it, without preparation,  without exercises, and without stressing over how to do it;
 Method Acting relies heavily on Stanislavsky's emotional recall (Affective Memory). The problem with using  emotional recall is that the actor has  to do the exercise of remembering before he or she can act the emotion. Tao acting says that if the actor is being the character in the scene and there are things that stimulate a reaction of sadness in the character, for example,  the actor will react with sadness.  Remember one cannot be sad.  The actor has to express sadness as a reaction, a physical response,  to what is going on in the scene. A famous acting teacher said, "Acting is being other people." Thus, instead of being a Method Actor searching his memory for the proper emotion, Tao acting says be the other person, concentrate on the scene, receive the stimuli and react. Just do that which you would do when motivated by that stimuli,  and you will be an effective actor.
The actor doesn't  worry about whether he or she  would do these things in your everyday life because that clutters your mind and interferes with receiving the stimuli and reacting without inhibitions. And that is what an actor needs to concentrate on: receiving the stimuli from the scene and responding to it emotionally and physically fully and without inhibitions. That creates an effective scene in which the actor is most vulnerable. It is difficult to do these things if you are worried about using some technique or other to do them.  But it is surprisingly easy to do them when you are relaxed and just go ahead and do them.
It is fun to openly express our emotions withing the confines of the scene. It is healthy and it is the best an actor can do.  Have fun and start "acting without acting," as Lao-Tse said the Tao requires..
 God bless, Doc

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