Feelings. Actors are continually oppressed by the notion that they need to feel something. But most actors already feel something all the time every day of the week. 24/7. It’s never a matter of feeling. It’s a matter of doing. What is the character in any scene trying to do to the other character or for himself or herself? We may wish to feel a certain thing in life and on stage, but this feeling, this emotional response, is triggered by what we are trying to do and the outcome of our actions. Feelings are a reaction. To the circumstances that surround us. The people, the environment influences. Feelings are a response. They are not stimulae. We see something. We feel something. Seeing is an action. We hear something. We feel something. Hearing is an action. We touch something. We feel something. Feeling is an action. And so on and so forth.
It’s quite annoying to watch an actor conjure an emotional response on stage. It’s distracting. The audience is taken out of the story, and the collective attention is directed toward the skillful trick of the actor. And it does impress many. But it doesn’t tell the story. It shows off the actors ability to move himself or herself.
To borrow a statement from a much smarter artist than I could ever hope to be: The play’s the thing. The story is what’s important. What’s the story? When the actor understands the story and his or her role in that story, they cannot help but be moved. Moved in the service of the story. Not moved in an attempt to get the audience on his or her side. Not moved in attempt to get the sympathy of the viewing crowd. Not moved in an attempt to edify his or her faith in some depth of sensitivity.
Leave yourself alone. Start from who you are. Start from where you are. Tell the story. And you just might move mountains.