The training that we do in scene study at Actorium is based on Meisner and Method techniques. The ultimate goal in this training is for the actor is to be living and responding freely in the moment. This is an important factor at every level. I judge an actor’s work based on how close they are to reaching the goal of being “alive in the moment.”
This is scene study, a class to learn and grow as an actor. It’s not about attaining a ‘product’. It’s about an actor developing a skill, and that skill in this class means the ability to place their attention on the other actor, to listen and be affected by the words and actions of their fellow actors and to follow their impulses – as opposed to thinking about it and then making decisions.
With that in mind, sometimes scene work may not initially appear very exciting, or the actor may not yet be playing it correctly in terms of where the scene should go; but if the actor *is* moving in the direction of living and responding truthfully in the moment, then we are right on track. We can’t lose sight of our goal in order for a quick and easy pat on the back for a lively scene.
Many things can make us lose sight of our goals, but one of the most common is to be blinded by yelling, screaming and crying and fooling ourselves into believing that that is great acting. People can be fooled by tears. ‘He cried therefore it must be good acting!’ or ‘I was so angry I punched a hole in the wall’… that must have been excellent acting.
It’s not though. Why? Because people don’t try to cry. People don’t “get into” punching a hole in the wall. People are side-swiped by their emotions. Emotions are a result and not the focus. Watch yourself right now. Are you focused on your emotions? They happen to you. You don’t ‘do’ them.
It’s important to not go for the instant win. It’s not real. Keep your eyes on the goal. Don’t skip steps and think you’ll go “straight to great”. It doesn’t work. Be your harshest critic. Humble yourself and agree to take the time to practice and learn. We can realize some beautiful work if we clarify our goals and truly stick to them.