What brings you in?
Everyone has their own reasons when they walk into an acting class. One thing I have learned from teaching, is that everyone who chooses to come to my class, regardless of age, experience, ambition or goals, comes for one similar underlying reason. They all, at some point, in some way, have had a sneaking suspicion that they are more than they think they are. And they are right. Acting offers a way to test that theory. In a great acting class, there will be exercises or games or material that asks you to react honestly, and at times technically. Those responses are very likely to be outside of your daily experience, or comfort zone, and will require some expansion.
I know my own reasons. I've been wandering or some times running into classrooms, workshops and productions since I was 14. I got really lucky, I went to a public high school that had three theaters, an unheard of luxury. We did 11 shows a year, with audiences between 200 and 2000. Being a kid, gives you the permission to play anything, anyone in any time. A squirrel, a grandmother, a talking baby. As a student you are given room to challenge yourself. You get to investigate from the inside out. What was Sherlock Holmes thinking? Why did Medea kill her children? What was it like to be an immigrant in the 1920's in Boston? I loved the theatre and acting when I was a kid because I saw what a wild ride it could be. Every six weeks we worked on a new life, a new place, a new time, a new history, a new person. We would choose shoes for this person and work to understand them so much that we could defend their lives honestly and with conviction. To me that was exciting. Constantly learning, constantly being exposed to new things, Constantly thinking about what is like to be other people, and in the process finding out what it feels like to be me. I have returned to acting class my whole life because as I grow in experience, I have to keep my acting skills alive and always challenged. Acting isn't easy. People on television make it look easy. And sure, there are some who will say it is. I guess they know something I don't. My experience tells me that great acting, the kind that moves people, that burns a story into your mind, that triggers your suspension of disbelief, that kind of acting is hard to do because it requires vulnerability. I'm going to write a whole other blog on vulnerability, so check that out too. But for the purpose of this blog, vulnerability is tough for people like us. We have been raised in a culture that teaches you to be polite and hide the way you really feel about most everything. We play some of our cards very close to our chest. Some cards, we've held on to for so long, we don't even know they are there. By cards I mean memories, emotions, ideas, beliefs that we keep so secret we forget that they ever happened at all. Often in stretching to play a character that is unlike ourselves we access our own memories or emotions. This can be as exciting as it is scary.
So why do you come into acting class? Maybe its to focus your mind, test out your skills, learn something new, do some thing daring, or following an dream you've had for a long time. What ever brings you in, in the end you encounter yourself, a whole integrated self that is free to create.
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