If the actor can create the simple reality, he will work consistently. If the actor can create the emotional reality, he will work sometimes. If he can do both, he may get the chance to work significantly.
I’ve butchered those statements, but I believe all three can be attributed to Lee Strasberg. It’s curious that a teacher most commonly identified with affective or emotional memory would recommend that the actor first concern herself with the simple reality of any play, of any scene, of any role.
But what is the simple reality?
The facts and figures. The Given Circumstances. Where and when and with whom and all the necessary questions for text analysis listed in such books as Uta Hagen’s Respect for Acting….But wait. There’s more!
The actor must then ask an additional and even more essential question after gathering
all of that circumstantial information: What does it make you want to do? This a question Lee Strasberg would put to actors. Because all the information gleaned from the text must lead to one specific end: Behavior. Not just thought. Not just feeling. Actual doing.
The actor needs to provide much more than the way he or she feels emotionally in any situation. Feelings don’t tell stories. Behavior does. And behavior combined with feelings – well, that will startle, excite, and inspire.