Meryl Streep’s word of advice to aspiring actors.
And it feels so damn good.
Had a very successful acting class today. I’d been a little worried that I might’ve emotionally worn myself out in the process of figuring out my character and wouldn’t be able to “go there” when the time came. On top of that, I was exhausted. Didn’t get much sleep the night before so I felt like a zombie. I would’ve way much rather have crawled into my bed than go to class. On top of THAT, it was a scene from a movie that I’d watched the shit out in the past, which makes it harder for me to make it my own rather than mimicking how it was done in the film.
((I am really tired though, so not everything I write may make sense! Formulating sentences is quite the task right now, but I know I have to get this out tonight cause it just won’t be the same tomorrow.))
Knowing all the above, I told myself on my way to acting class to relax and not to psych myself out with a bunch of expectation. Expectations of getting the scene ‘right’, expectations of it playing out a certain way. Expectation kills creativity, after all. And I’d done my homework so I knew the emotions were there, it was just a matter of whether they’d surface or not when I needed them- and sometimes they just don’t! Sometimes the elements just don’t line up. You can’t be too hard on yourself if you know you’ve truly done the work.
Before my scene went up, I did a quick meditation- if you could even call it that. It was more like a deep breathing exercise (eyes open) to ground myself and find where I’d left my character. To find her sadness from within. I still wasn’t sure if I’d be able to go there, but at least I had the tools. One of those tools, by the way, having a good listening ear. Really listening to what the other actor is saying to you. How can you react to something honestly if you’re not even giving yourself anything to react to??
So before you know it, I’m starting my scene and everything falls perfectly in place. My voice is strong, the emotions (betrayal, sadness, desperation) surface in all the right places, tears are falling freely, and I’m really listening, connecting with the other actor. Eyes were glued. Compliments were showered.
I’m not really one to toot my own horn about these kinds of things. Something within me just doesn’t allow that or feel comfortable with it. But the point is, I nailed it. 100%, no regrets. And that feels freaking good, especially when I didn’t think I’d be able to get there at all. I surprised myself and that’s awesome.
Just goes to show how far grounding yourself, really listening to the other actor and doing your homework goes. Homework to me is:
1. Knowing your lines to a tee. At the very least, the essence of the lines. What is your character trying to say? So that even if you forget your lines and don’t get it word for word, you still get across the same meaning. Plus knowing your lines means you aren’t scrambling for them, thus freeing you up in your body and performance.
2. Really analyzing and embodying who your character is as a person- who are they at their core? What drives them? What makes them who they are that makes them say the lines that are written?
3. Understanding what their role is in the scene. What was the story the writer wanted to tell in this scene, and what part does your character play in that?
I’m sure there are many other things as well, but that’s the majority of it. And I’m pretty sleepy, so if I think of anything else that’s important I’ll write about it in a new post. But seriously guys, if you’re doing all those things and whatever else you consider ‘homework’, then you’ve got the magic formula. All you have to do is trust that everything you need is already set up there for you.
You’ve just gotta open yourself up to it.
Sweet dreams, all you lovely people. xox. I’m going to pass out now.
The Aspiring Actress.
I’m sure most of you already know this, but for those of you who don’t, this is one worth remembering.
DO NOT CONSUME CAFFEINE BEFORE AN AUDITION.
Not even 4 hours prior. Just. Don’t. Do. It. Trust me. Would I lie to you?
And this is coming from a girl who can fall asleep after a strong cup of Joe. I know it smells so good and it’s so tempting in the morning, especially if you’ve had a long night or week. But to be honest when it comes time to it, the adrenaline from auditioning will be enough to energize you through your audition without the additional help.
See I’ve found that this miraculous thing happens before an audition..where any trace of caffeine in your system will somehow find its way to make merry friends with your nerves. The end result? Disastrous. And no amount of
meditation in the world is going to save you from that situation.
The immediate energy you give off when you walk into the audition room will be: crazy, jittery, nervous, all over the place. Whereas, of course, you want to go in calm, collected with high but steady energy.
You end up tripping over lines because your lips can’t catch up with your brain, or vice versa.
OR nailing your lines…at the speed of lightening.
The only time I would recommend it is if you’re going in for a sitcom-y role. Then have it all you like. I personally still wouldn’t do it though. But that’s just me.
And there you have it.
Do you have any funny over-caffeinated/over-excited audition stories to tell?
I’d love to hear them.
The Aspiring Actress.