This is a follow up to a post I saw in a voice teacher forum today.
Acting is NOT emoting. If you are showing the audience or the casting team your feelings and emotions while performing, it will never be real.
Actually, true acting has nothing to do with emotions. If you focus solely on emotions, it will be fake and forced.
Emotions are reactions. Reactions to the situation or the actions that have been taken to get to that situation. You must let the reaction happen. It’s the only way for it to truly be honest in the moment.
If you stub your toe, you feel pain. Action, reaction.
This is key: Don’t plan your emotions, plan your actions.
Why? That’s what we do in real life! We plan to convince someone of something. We plan to ask someone something. We plan to figure something out. All things we know how to do that cause moments for us to react.
No one honestly plans their emotions. Even if they do, they either don’t work or they are fake.
You know how when you ask someone how they are doing and they smile and say “I’m fine” but you really don’t believe them? You know they’re lying?
That’s what it’s like when you act emotions.
“You can not tell an audience a lie. They know it before you do. Before you even open your mouth.”
— Elaine Stritch
Acting is not about creating facial expressions or hand gestures. It is about honesty. It is about taking the information you have learned in your life and the information you have about your character and making informed decisions on your character’s behalf. Those decisions may be right, they may be wrong. Believe me: when your character is allowed to make the wrong decision, that’s where the real magic and - to be honest - the vulnerability happen. We as humans are never perfect, why should we expect our characters to be?
If you want to care about your emotions, cool! Do what we do in real life and hide them, conceal them, avoid showing your emotions at all costs. That’s the real way to play emotions.
Oh, but did you notice all those actions: Hide, Conceal, Avoid... Things you can actually DO. See actions are key even when it comes to emotions.
The emotion is the result, it’s the answer. Show your work. Let us see you get there and how you got there. Otherwise, its cheating. Just like in math.
Signed, Your Friendly Neighborhood Actor’s Coach