Acting is hard work – it’s about being prepared

Acting – be prepared! Have it, don’t show it!

Acting is not only about being prepared and memorizing your text. It’s about getting behind the story. Understanding the feelings of the character. Understanding the objective of your character, what does this character want, whats this persons goal?
What are the obstacles, what’s in her/his way?
What’s the strategy and the tactics to overcome those obstacles?
How about the other characters in the story, what do they want and what’s in their way?
Where’s the conflict?

There will be different tactics for each character to achieve what they want. When a tactic or a feeling changes, that’s a beat. How do you deliver those feelings to your audience.

I love what one of our teacher keeps telling us:

“Have it, don’t show it!”

Do you have an idea how difficult it is, not to overact? To make the audience truly believe the feeling you show is real! It’s authentic! WOW – its not easy!

The worst is to play a character with an own inner conflict, the character ‘acts’ or tries to hide something. So you have to act someone who is acting. Sounds insane. Is insane. Try to act as if you were drunk when you are completely sober. Try it. I am certain all of you can pretend to be a drunk person, and it will be funny to watch. But how many of you will really have it and don’t show it? How many will make it ‘real’? Its real, when your friends buy it! Try it!

The prep work starts with reading. Reading the full story and memorizing your text. As well memorizing partly your partners texts. You have to know, when their lines are finished.

If you don’t like to read, you shouldn’t get involved in acting. I used to ‘eat books’ when I was a kid, teenager and even my twentieth. Still love to read! Just don’t have as much time for it anymore, as I used to.

And even worse: in this crazy multitasking, 24/7 online world, I realized, I am not as concentrated anymore. I used to live in a story while reading it. It took friends and family quite some effort to get my attention, while I was reading. As I was entirely in the world of the story. I was in the book. I have lost that. And that’s not good. It takes me twice as long to get into the story. My mind is spinning, there are mostly too many things on my mind. So I believe to really get into acting, it is key to be able to staying focused. Focused when you read the play. Focused when you are working on preparing, to interact with your acting partners. Acting and re-acting. Not only sticking on your text.

I learned my first monologue for my current program on yesterday. You have no idea, how many little words I tent to forget, or mix up. My roommate and his girlfriend, both actors, gave me some very good advice, on how they memorize text. For example to write it down. When you write you memorize it better. Move, e.g. walk while memorizing. For me this worked quite well! I was walking in central park, reading and repeating my text. It was a little bit strange when I started, as I was talking to myself. But after a while, it was absolutely fine. Read one sentence then repeat it loud, without looking at your script. That one worked very well for me, too. Lie down and read. This I haven’t tried yet.

However, today, one days later, I had to present my monologue in class. I was truly surprised, how well I remembered, and how much I got into the scene instead of only repeating text. Teacher was satisfied, so was I. But he of course he had as well some great remarks:

“There is love in every story! Try to find the love in the story!”

Just to give you the background, my monologue is from “Women of Manhatten” a play of 3 women in Manhatten. I am Billie. She is an exotic, high-strung bird. She is well off, looks good, everybody confident she is happily married and has no problems. Well she has been beaten by her husband. And that’s what her monologue is about. He hit her right in the eye. Billie is not a weak, quiet, devote thing. She is strong and shining. So, well, put love in it, when the bastard just punished you right in the eye. But then, thats how life is. There is in most cases not only black and white. There is always lots and lots of different greys in between.

It’s a great play by the way. Read and/or watch it, if you haven’t yet. GGG highly recommends it!
Well there are 4 more dialoguese to memorize this week, 2 of them 4 pages long. I better get going!



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