Acting’s a Trip! (And Other Bad Puns I Live By)
Ah! Acting as Journey. That idea has never seemed as strong to me as it is now, as I said goodbye to one semester and embarked on my last few months here at NYCDA. From the moment before to the event of the scene, to benchmarks and character arcs; I’ve learned that going from point A to point B is an essential part of an actor’s work, and perhaps, the meat and potatoes of a good story. A lot of us young actors get stuck in the emotion. We wind up wallowing in a feeling (mainly because we’re just happy and surprised to be feeling something at all, in the first place!) and then we end up spending an entire scene playing the problem or an obstacle instead of the wants and needs of the character.
A great thing that my scene study teacher has said is that “a scene always has to move somewhere and you do too”. When you get up in front of that camera or on that stage, you are about to go on a journey- or take a road trip (if you enjoy analogies as much as I do). That can seem kind of scary and overwhelming, but what’s wonderful about itÂ is that you are never alone. You’ve got a scene partner in shotgun, who keeps you alert, active and focused on the road. And then, of course, there’s no way to get lost because, lo and behold, you’ve got a map! Your script serves as your guide, and the choices you’ve made and personalized are your roadsigns, helping you travel from point of view to point of view.
But don’t fall into the trap of over-analyzing your route (which, sadly and annoyingly enough, I find myself doing much of the time). There’s a difference between preparing emotional guideposts for yourself, andÂ intellectualizing every step you have planned along the way. There’s a different between firing off line readings,Â and playing off what your scene partner is actually giving you. And most importantly, there is a huge difference between thinking (and forcing) what you THINK you should be feeling,Â and living in the moment and truly being in the experience.
I try to keep those things in mind when I’m both preparing and playing a scene, and you should too. Soon your acting travels will become relatively painless (and of course, I’m talking about for your audience!)
Take care and ride safe!