‘Acting is standing up naked and turning around slowly’ is Rosalind Russell’s famous expression describing how truthful and open an actor is asked to be.
I think, the training in the skill of ‘standing up naked’ starts in the first 10 – 15 minutes of class time. We start every class with a “check in”. Our check-in may differ in the style it is asked, but it always revolves around a moment to moment description of how you feel … EXACTLY.
It has become quite clear that the longer someone trains, the better their check-in is. The more real it is. The more truthful and fulfilling it is. The more human and alive it is.
I always appreciate when I have a trained, experienced student in a new class. They model the check-in. Quickly new students realize an acting class check-in is not the same as the common “how are you?” “Oh I’m doing fine… feeling a bit tired today”. An acting class check-in is the real answer to the “How are you?” That’s what the trained student brings to the check-in.
It takes time to be able to answer that question “how are you” truthfully. Often in the beginning, new students can’t actually answer the question. We’ve been making up the answer for so long, we don’t really know the answer. We have to practice answering that question.
But a trained, experienced student knows how to answer the question, because, they know how to ‘stand up naked’.
I think what it does, for those of us listening to them answer the question ‘how are you?’, is the same thing a great film does for it’s audience. It exposes a personal truth and allows for everyone to understand and feel our shared humanity.
– Michelle Meyrink