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1st off, acting is PLAYING. It is putting yourself in a certain environment, having to go through certain situations and being given specific circumstances. The tricky part is making it all seem real.<-- But is it???? That is why I said in the 1st line of this story that " It is putting YOURSELF " in it 1st. Always start with you!! It is not playing the scene; it is being in the moment. It is not over reacting, it is truly reacting in the present. It is LISTENING - ACTION and REACTION.
Usually, the 1st time you read a scene or a monologue or even a script for that matter, whatever your 1st take on a specific character was, was the right one. As actors we tend to go over it in our minds to the point of oblivion only to work and work and work to get back to the beginning. As I just said, the 1st take you have on a character is most likely the best one. TRUST YOURSELF!!!! Be confident in your choices and don't worry about the other stuff. LET IT HAPPEN, don't force it. You can find that by just reading something without putting too much into makes it seem natural. It is not forced.
Now, LAYERS are what you add after you have made your obvious choices. Layers are what most of us would call character flaws (ha ha)--- they make our characters HUMAN and INTERESTING. They give our scenes heart and soul. Here's the thing --- don't search too far for these 'layers' - they will come to you through rehearsing. Again, they are not forced either -- they flow.
The best scenes I have ever witnessed, whether in a movie, on TV or in theatre were the scenes were there was a lot at stake. LIFE AND DEATH. These are things we are always fighting for in life and in our acting. This goes for COMEDY and DRAMA. There is NO difference. They both have a lot going on. There is always a constant struggle in each. That is what makes things truly funny or truly sad. I remember what a colleague that I have had the honor to work with over the last couple of years said to me, "Alex, it is all life and death. It doesn't matter if you are in Hamlet, or a character on a CBS sitcom". ---> Jerry Stiller. If you think about it, it makes sense.
An interesting spin on all of this is that no matter how long we rehearse something or how much we think we ARE the part we are reading for or that we do it the best, I have news for you - it doesn't always go our way. In fact, the majority of the time it DOESN'T go our way. Booking jobs should not be the reason we are actors. We are actors because THAT IS ALL WE ARE!!! There is nothing else that fills us with that certain passion or self-awareness or adrenalin. To make people 'feel' something when they are watching our art is comparable to euphoria.
Here is some more food for thought -- I am constantly learning. I learn from auditioning, I learn from watching other actors and I learn from life. ALL of life is filled with characters. The characters we are in our everyday lives aren't our true beings. We were born innocent and then we added our 'layers'. We were born a blank canvas from which we created ourselves. And that is what we do every time we pick up a script.
MAKE STRONG CHOICES
1) Where are you - Where is the scene taking place?
2) A Before - Where are you coming from? What are you going into the scene with?
3) What is at stake - Life and Death? What do you NEED?
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