Dead Man Walking?

The actor can sometimes, oftentimes, all the time even, become infected with the in-sidious desire for “authenticity” in performance.  The word “organic” gets bandied about a lot in rehearsal rooms and acting classes.  So does the word “truthful.”  But what do these words really mean?  And, please, I don’t want the textbook definition out of Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares or any other publication on acting.  The words authentic, organic, truthful, and many more like them have lost their value somehow.

In an effort to be truthful, actors often go dead.  Believing that we need to leave our-selves open, we turn ourselves off when we need to do the exact opposite.  We need to be turned on.  We need to receive the script in an excited state – the creative state.  We
need to participate with the heightened circumstances of the story.

I find myself throughout the day keeping my opinions to myself, interacting as efficiently and effectively as possible with the outside world so as not to cause a “scene”, only re-vealing what’s truly going on inside my head and heart to a select few.  For the most part, I walk around like a dead man.  My heart’s still beating and I’m still breathing, but I am not responding impulsively. I hold back.  I follow the rules of conventional behavior
and stifle my responses in accordance with society’s rules of proper decorum.  While it serves me in life, keeps me out of trouble, allows me the ability to fit in, such behavior fully frustrates my work in rehearsal and in performance.

The desire to be perceived as natural and organic has become a tired style.  It’s be-come a convention.  It’s merely imitation.  There is nothing artistic, organic, or interest-ing in any of it.  It’s boring.

If you’re truly an actor, you have strong points of view about most things if not all things.  You vibrate at a higher frequency than the average human being.  This doesn’t mean you’re better than any human being.  It just means you’re slightly different.  More
easily excitable.  More expressive.  Maybe more interesting to watch.  Maybe more in-teresting to witness.

The only way to find out is to bring yourself – alive and vibrant, turned on and excited – to the role, the rehearsal, and the performance.

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