Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Like a roller coaster

  Sometimes, life is like a roller coaster. There are your beginnings, your endings, your long, slow climbs. Sometimes there are corkscrews or loops when you're so turned around you don't know what the hell is going on. Then, there are the plunges. Those glorious plunges when you're in freefall and you're screaming, you're laughing, crying.
  Right now, I'm just about at the top of a good climb. I can see the crest, and I can see a long, steep plunge coming. The anticipation is high, the nerves are tingling. What's going to happen? Will I be able to stand it?
  I realized last night at class that I was about to reach an acting pinnacle that I've anticipated for many years. I knew one day I'd be faced with this challenge, and I became even more aware of it when I finally started getting some real training. In two weeks, I have to break down emotionally for all to see. I have to crumble. Fall apart. Cry. It's a "sense memory" exercise, and one by one, each of us will have to take the stage and live out this very private moment in a very public way.
  I've had to cry once before in a film, but I cheated. I have never had to go from nominal to broken in front of people. I don't even cry in private. It's not a macho thing; I just don't do it. I have been molded, by neccessity, into somebody who is emotionally closed. To be overtaken by these feelings, especially publicly, goes against everything that I am. Beautifully, that's the point. "Private in Public" is one of Stanislavski's most well-known principals of acting.
  You can't just sit down and "make" yourself cry. It doesn't work that way. You have to take yourself there, and let yourself be overwhelmed with a physical response to emotional stimuli. For this assignment, we're supposed to each bring in an object that is connected to some event that will act as an emotional trigger. We are supposed to talk about it, though not in a narrative way, and let it take us to where we need to go. Ultimately, excercises like this are supposed to give us the tools we need as actors to find the emotion in a character and truly feel it on stage.
  This in itself is going to be a major undertaking, but I also am terrifically excited about it. To me, it represents the real "meat" of acting- the emotion. I've waited a long time to get this kind of training, and I really feel like a lot of things are converging here. This class, the voice lessons, the upcoming auditions in spring. It's the crest, and I can see the plunge just ahead.

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