Ask A Healer Creativity Series
The Actor's Emotions - Expressing Freely. Online Acting Class for Emotional Expression
Acting Lessons by N J Howell
Suggested Reading: Method Acting vs. Chekhov
Choosing a Monologue
Exercises to help the performer create emotionally rich characters for film or stage. These exercises are part of the part of the Power Connection Online Acting Class.
If you have reached this acting lesson directly, from a search engine search or link, please read acting exercise 4 - the actor's emotions first.
It may also be helpful to start at the beginning of the power connection Free online acting class, complete the intro and first 3 lessons before doing this one on emotional accessibility for the actor.
One of the most valuable teachings I received during my time in Los Angeles, came from Lisa Dalton of the Chekhov Connection. I had done a scene and afterwards, Lisa asked me what I had wanted to accomplish. I said I wanted to make the audience feel the emotion in the scene. Lisa suggested that perhaps each person in the audience might feel something different and how would it be if I allowed them to have their own experience? It really shifted me as an actor.
I had an epiphany about performing and the journey an actor takes with their audience. I realize that I could not manipulate the audience into having a specific emotional experience. They have to take the journey with me and it's a far richer journey for them if I am not beating them over the head with what they should be feeling.
This very simple exercise can begin to help you learn how to locate your areas of emotional restriction as a performer, breakthrough resistence to full emotional recall and expression, and create emotional reality that can help your audience suspend disbelief.
EMOTIONAL RECALL ACTING EXERCISES:
Featured for actors:
Cure Stage Fright
a. EMOTIONAL RECALL
It can be tempting to just skim through acting exercises such as this one. To do so will be cheating yourself as an actor.
I advise setting aside time to be alone and undisturbed and also, repeated practice.
Reach a state of receptive relaxation.
Look at the list of emotions or states:
This time, recall every event or experience you can, where each emotion was felt.
Review the circumstances and your reaction to the situation.
Notice, in your memory, how you dealt with what was going on.
Notice in particular any extenuating circumstances that might have changed the way you initially wanted to respond. For example, were you ready to confront a friend over a matter of conflict but, at the last moment decided not to, because of something your friend did or said? Were you told the way you should act, and did you accept it, even though your impulse was to act a different way?
By asking yourself specific questions such as this, with each memory than comes up, you begin to see to what degree you respond from programming or past circumstances, instead of spontaneously and in the moment.
This is not to say that you will never use your old programming in an acting role; to the contrary, your own idiosyncrasies and limitations provide excellent character development material.
However, if you can only function within your current restriction and oddities of character, it will severely limit the roles you may successfully undertake, whereas if you work to release limitations any physical, emotional or vocal tunnel vision in your personality, you are then free to envision totally different ways of responding while still being quite able to pull from old habits and ways of being, should the need arise.
For example, let's say that you become aware of a tendency within yourself to be suspicious of people, to withhold intimacy out of fear of being hurt. That would make you perfect for the role of a character in the same situation, because you could identify with the feelings. However, it would make it almost impossible for you to play someone who is extremely open to intimacy and who risks emotional vulnerability quite often.
This will no longer be a problem when you have mastered your limitations, since a thing learned is yours forever. You are not likely to forget the way you were; you will just choose to be open to new ways of being.
Expand your range by moving, speaking and thinking differently with these exercises!
b. ALLOWING EMOTION
Next, decide on different responses to those past events and enlist the help of your body and voice to express them. This can be a very freeing exercise because it creates a sense of power through emotional flexibility. Try as many different reactions as you wish, being as outrageous as you wish! Have fun with it; throw coconut pie in your Mother s face or transform yourself into Genghis Khan to deal with your agent. Every emotion that you allow becomes accessible, to your work, and to the extent that you allow it.
To evaluate what you've learned from lesson four, journal the following:
Which emotions were hardest for you to connect into and which ones were easier?
Can you trace the ease or lack of ease in expressing specific emotions to situations in your past that may have shaped emotional response?
Continue with the class.......Acting Lesson Five - Whole Brain Acting