Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What we can learn from "Acting!"

Actors love to act! But of course, the best don't let you catch them in the act of acting. Baaaad acting, the kind we associate with Jon Lovitz's Master Thespian, loves to call attention to itself. Good acting, well... that is somewhat indistinguishable from "being" -- on a very focussed level.

I have been auditioning actors for my upcoming production of the play I wrote three years ago. It has been a long journey to get to this point, and now the fun is starting! I love meeting actors, and there are many talented ones in the DC area. I have been amazed and gratified by the number of gifted men and women willing to be a part of our adventure.

And what an adventure it is! I am playing a lot of roles myself: wearing both playwright and director hats, at the moment (also doing the day-to-day producing work, but that's another story. . .) That may be why I am most attracted to actors who let the story be the star, not themselves. They do not spend time being clever and thinking up "bits" to enliven the scene; they work to bring the scene -- as written -- to life! The fact that they trust the text speaks volumes, I think, about they way they work as artists.

I tell my Adult Ed acting students, as well as my public speaking clients they, too, need to trust the text. Sometimes this is more difficult, especially if they haven't fully prepared. But here's the professional advice I give them: You Need To Prepare. I know they already know this, but sometimes you just have to hear something from an "expert" to believe your gut instinct. And to act upon it.

Make the time, do the preparation. Then you can relax and just be. Be the conduit for the message. Let it pass through you freely. You will communicate more clearly if you can just let it flow, and not clutter  it up with cleverness that comes from forgetting that it's not about you. It's always, always -- in theatre, in a speech, in a conference call -- about the message!

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