The more you bring to the party, the better you play, the deeper the fun.
You Can Never Get It Neat
“Life is crystallized sharply in theatre as in no other art form.
The reason … it’s the art of presence; it’s the art of a person in the round in front of you, living in front of you, and if he ceases to live
— that is, he ceases to be real, there’s nothing there in the play.
Because it’s ephemeral, because it’s of the moment, it’s deeply moving when it’s alive!”
The great director, Harold Clurman, founder of the Group Theatre spoke those words.
Because performance art is alive and life is in a constant state of movement, it is never predictable.
When actors break the bonds of their preconceptions to experience themselves as fully alive in the moment in front of an audience,
they can "Never Get it Neat!”
Whether it happens in a darkened theatre in front of an audience or in front of a camera operator in a cramped room,
performance art is alive. If you try to tidy it up, you will kill it.
Throughout human history, the stories we tell ourselves reflect and define not only who we are and what we wish for;
they also influence what we become. In theatre our highest aspirations and deepest dreads are put before us,
binding us in mutual recognitions that, if we are lucky, result in awakenings.
I love this quote from Lillian Gish in a speech she made to a group of producers:
“You have to remember that a movie is not an innocent thing at all. And that when you go into a film and you
sit there and you watch, somehow all the little molecules in your existence are rearranged by what you see and understand.
So when people come out of that theatre, they’re slightly different. And you’ve either taught them something
that they shouldn’t have learned or you’ve taught them something really quite great. So watch yourselves.”
In her indispensable book, Acting is Everything Judy Kerr states her belief that “We must accept responsibility for our actions and choices” and that
“Without a developed spiritual life and fundamental values/beliefs, we will not experience real joy.”
Paula Russell’s Definitions Of Acting
Shortest: Acting is having an intimate experience with yourself in front of other people.
Short: Acting is having an Intimate Experience with yourself as fully alive, in the present, in front of other people.
Medium: Acting is having an Intimate Experience with yourself in front of other people and expressing that experience through the Given Circumstances
of a character in a written text, and working through that experience Moment by Moment with the audience.
Long Definition: Acting is going through a process In The Now of seeking and exploring intimate personal truths about yourself in front of other people.
Within the discipline of the Given Circumstances of the text, the words of the play are a code for the emotional life of the Actor/Character and must be
experienced in the present by actors who both Commit to and then Surrender to the Magic ‘As if’ and Let Go of controlling Results.
"Let yourself laugh.” Joan Darling
Acting is “a unique, individualized way of expressing the universal.” Ellen Burstyn
“YOU CAN NEVER BE TOO WEIRD.” Phillip Seymour Hoffman
“When you are accepted, your anxiety drops. You feel whole. You become creative and are reborn. ….My feeling is that creation, inspiration and dedication
are all the result of being triggered by another person who unconditionally accepts you.” (Dr. Ben Weininger, psychologist)
Unfortunately most of us are used to criticism that tells us how wrong or dumb we are. If you are one of those actors who expects to hear how bad you are, you are out of luck in this workshop. Growth comes from nurturing, not poisoning. The more you hear what you are doing that’s Right, the more you’ll do it! And you will never be lied to about your work. This work is designed so you can’t fail!
In Paula’s philosophy there is no such thing as boredom.
It is a non-emotion and a non-specific word for something else that is happening or failing to happen because it is being blocked.
“Remember that overcoming boredom means learning to take risks … basically, the risk of feeling the full range of human emotions …
The reward far exceeds the effort and risk."
“Boredom may be characterized as a ‘substitute’ problem. Very often it represents an avoidance of something other than the immediate ‘boring’ situation
or task. Many times it offers a way to avoid active wishes we’re afraid to risk in the real world and over which we have no control. Sometimes it allows us to escape wishes that frighten or shame. Boredom’s discomfort comes not so much from the absence of excitement as from the irritation of an unconscious drive… [Boredom} draws us away from our active, creative energies … it is a non-solution, like going on a sit-down strike in quicksand. …
A stultified mental state can sometimes be dispelled by physical action.”
“On Boredom” from Greening and Hobson, psychotherapist and social anthropologists
© 2015 Paula Russell.