A Simple Tip for Acting Success
by Ruth Kulerman
Embrasing life, confidence and energy is the key to an outstanding acting audition.
In the George Gershwin song "Embraceable You," the "you" is the one being embraced. But for this article, let's make "you" the person doing the embracing. That is, you are one who embraces. So today we hold a mirror up to you, the actor, the person who embraces, the actor in the act of embracing.
AN IDEAL EMBRACER
Within the past weeks I have seen 30 actors enter a room to interview/audition. One -- yes, only one -- walked in owning the place. He spilled energy all over the room. He focused on me, not on himself or the impression he was making.
His "Hello" accompanied an ear-to-ear smile. He entered, greeted, smiled, and without saying anything except else sent a message: "I am so glad to be here. Isn't this just GREAT! I am GREAT! You are GREAT! The world is GREAT!" What a role-winning message! What an A+ initial impression! What an embrace!
His auditioning persona was a delight, especially after the actors who tippy-toed in, exuding silently, "Oh Zeus, is she going to bite me!" The man with the grin got an immediate vote by embracing himself, me, the situation with a contagious pleasure. The others embraced their self-doubts, their insecurity, and their expectation of rejection. What you are embracing is the first thing a casting director senses before you take three steps into the room. What really made the grinning man successful?
And then came the monologue
Free-fall elevator to the basement of utter boredom! He had the energy of a snail and the interest of a slug. What happened to the delight of his perfectly honed interview persona?
How sad, how disappointing, and what an utter waste of life it is to want to do something (act), to have a perfect "interview mentality," (a basic essential) and then shrink to a toadstool mumbling a monologue. HE DID NOT EMBRACE THE ACT OF ACTING. He did not embrace his audience during performance.
And yet he had raved about how much he loved to act. The difference between this actor interviewing and this actor acting was shattering.
But even worse were the actors who tried to disappear into the wall or crawl under the rug, hoping that a miracle would make them feel "comfortable." It is not the role of an audience -- or a casting director -- to make an actor feel comfortable. A hiding actor has perfected an unwillingness to embrace this thing he insists he loves: ACTING. And if he waits until he feels comfortable, he will be very old before landing his first role.
YOU vs. YOU
How do you stop the internal civil war that pits an actor against his dreams? GET SOME LIFE INTO THAT ACTING! EMBRACE IT! Let the world see that you love it. Walk into a room with electricity. Carry that electricity into your acting! Park yourself at the door. Bring in the actor. Create the role of someone who loves acting and SHOWS IT. That is the best role you will ever play. It opens the door to all other roles.
The curious thing is that the shy ones and the hearty one -- all of them -- performed their monologues as if they were reading a telephone book. Somewhere some place someone has taught impressionable would-be actors that "Real" = quiet, pulled back, pulled in, toneless, monotonous, dead voice, dead everything and that the only variety allowed is to yell occasionally. What audience can feel embraced by mumbling or yelling?
An early requirement to embrace the act of acting is to become converted to the notion that acting real is still acting, and that acting real includes variety, energy, vocal inflection, rhythmic speech patterns and an obsessive awareness of the ends of sentences.
Stop thinking of yourself, your psyche, and your comfort level. Think of the words. Embrace them. Embrace your listener for being there to hear you do the thing you love to do: ACT.
COMFORT: The Deadly Goal
Need to feel comfortable? Forget it. Performing is not comfortable. It is my strong belief that the emphasis on being relaxed and comfortable has produced a generation of ho-hum acting, the antithesis of embracing.
The greatest sin on stage is not forgetting your lines. The greatest sin is not making an incorrect entrance. THE GREATEST SIN ON STAGE AND SCREEN IS BORING YOUR AUDIENCE.
Those wonderful people want to feel embraced. Your love of the act of acting in some magic way touches them. They pay their money to be entertained or to thrill at a performance or to see a star. Your love for acting must pour out, not be dribbled or rationed as if a teaspoonful must last a lifetime!
TALENT vs. EMBRACING
I insist that talent is not the final consideration in casting. I just read an ad on an Internet site, proclaiming that when agents meet you they want to know who you are and if you can act. Oh yeah? Since when? Agents want to know if you can book jobs. PERIOD.
There is no surer way to book a job -- unless you look like Adonis -- than shouting from the rooftop with energy, with joy and delight in yourself, "Look, world, I'm an actor! Hallelujah! Aren't I grand! And aren't you all, every one of you, grand too!"
There is no confidence pill. Gaining confidence is a whole article itself, but the basics for gaining confidence are preparation, not thinking about yourself, allowing your love for acting to show through, letting your audience (audition committee) know you embrace acting and embrace them for giving you the opportunity to do what you love.
If it's strong enough, that love of the act of acting will force you to embrace -- everything. It will not only change your acting but in time it will change you. A definition to consider: Acting is an art whose culmination is the act of embracing. Embracing what? Life.