Creating Emotional Flexibility for Performance
by N J Howell
What is Personality Acting?
Crying on Cue
What is Subtext?
One-on-One Acting Coaching
This is acting lesson number 4, of the Power Connection Online Acting Class. If you have reached this page directly, from a search engine search of link, you will need to visit the acting class information page first and complete the intro preceding acting lessons before doing this one on emotional accessibility for the actor. An actor must have ready access to any emotion that his or her character may need to convey in a powerful, truthful manner. If there is emotional constriction in the actor, there will be emotional constriction in the character as well.
Acting Techniques for Emotional Accessibility
This e-class, byN J Howell, all right reserved
The exciting thing about The Power Connection Process is that, once you have mastered the physical and vocal exercises, you will automatically have an incredibly expanded emotional accessibility.
Remember that, if you have a problem expressing an emotion, it is never because you don t know how. You may no longer use the excuse that, because an emotion is outside your actual life experience, it is inaccessible. Whether you are playing a serial killer or a saint, the emotional truth of that can be available to you. You know how to produce every known emotion, every subtle nuance of feeling, no matter how far removed from you daily life it may seem to be.
As a child, you effortlessly went outside your own experience on a daily basis. Remember how easily you created new worlds from your imagination? Can you remember the emotional richness of that world? I do. I used to play "Panther Girl" and hunt for panther meat. It was dangerous and I felt that danger as I ran from tree to tree, hiding from the big black cats.
You have access, by virtue of being human, to the core of all existing knowledge. I mean that literally. Anything that has been felt, ever, is available because everything experienced is also recorded. This phenomenon is known in metaphysical circles as The Akashic Records, which some can liken to an impossibly vast library. The internet is a third-dimensional representation of the Akashic Records. There are no limits to what you are capable of feeling. Your willingness to consider this possibility of unlimited knowledge starts a process whereby new knowledge will become available to you.
To begin to grow in your emotional accessibility for acting, try accessing a fresh viewpoint about anything at all; you may be surprised at the ideas that just seem to pop into your head. You may awaken in the middle of the night, as have many creative geniuses, to a completely new approach to a problem. This kind of relaxed, creative flow in creating a character can make the writer and producer both think ... wow, I would never have seen that character that way ... and it works!
One reason many actors have a problem in expressing certain emotions is that there is an underlying, personal revulsion to that particular feeling, a fear of looking foolish or of being vulnerable. Regaining access to blocked emotions requires a safe atmosphere - this is one of the best reasons for attending a good acting class and the very best reason for walking out of one that makes you feel, in any way, emotionally unsupported.
In a progressive class, an actor can work on specific problems without the pressure of performance. The only way I ve found to clear an emotional block is by confronting the limitation and working through it. This requires courage and is one mark of a dedicated artist.
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The Force of the Familiar: We tend to get very comfortable with our limitations. I call this self-imposed comfort zone "the force of the familiar" and it can be so innately built on bad performance habits that we don't even realize we are in that comfort zone. Someone once told me that the hardest thing to do is change what you're doing now. I recognized that this was true in my own life. The very areas I wanted so to change were also ones I had unconsciously gotten used to and comfortable with.
To free the emotions, you must dispose of any fear that removing your limitations will damage your work in some way by making you less interesting or intense.
There is actually a theory that neurotics make the best actors. However, I find it more stimulating to watch a vibrantly healthy, balanced individual produce the intensity of a neurotic reality (or whatever the part may require) from their own creative instincts, rather than watching the deterioration of a soul for entertainment as I'm aware we have done in the past. There have been stars who were clearly neurotic and their intensity and obsessions were fascinating to us as audiences.
Anyway, back to the task at hand - releasing fears and moving beyond your personal comfort zone. Starting from zero (by letting your unconscious restrictions in body, voice, emotions and mind drop away) will force you to rely on true ability instead of simply manifesting your own neurosis. Oddly enough, the former may seem more difficult than just expressing inner angst or one aspect of your personality, but to be a true craftsperson, with unlimited flexibility and depth, it is worth the effort.
The difference between taking your own page to the stage or screen and starting as a blank slate for the character to be painted upon will be that of one artist, who paints only with red, compared to another who has access to every shade of every color. A great personality actor can make a major career of it. If we like them in one movie, they become familiar and we're pretty sure we know what we're getting with them. Nothing against it at all; just like to explore and create more.
Through doing the physical and verbal exercises,you have probably already identified the emotions that are less accessible to you. It is on those you should focus now. Here is the time for looking at personal memory and how it has shaped your perception of what it is acceptable to express.
Ready for the next acting lesson? Go to acting exercises for freeing the emotions