Acting and Reality

by Joe Marinelli

Photo of alternate reality

Break down a scene and learn to imitate reality.

Acting is an imitation of reality, or a reflection of reality, or a heightened reality, or whatever metaphor you choose, but reality is almost assuredly connected to your definition.

In learning how to imitate reality some of us learned from the "outside - in," while others learned from the "inside - out." The choice of the style you use probably had to do with your success at it. What works for one actor, may not work for another. This choice is largely due, I believe, in each actor's individual sense of reality, matched with their specific teacher's view of reality.

I have noticed that many actors can break down a scene, know what they need to know about the situation their "character" is in, and perform with incredible insight into the human condition. I have also noticed that while most actors can use their respective techniques to break down the reality of a scene, they don't always reverse the direction and use their own acting... or reality... or philosophical techniques in their own life.

In the next few paragraphs I am not promoting any acting style, merely using my own choice of acting as the example. Please feel free to insert your own techniques and apply them.

For me, one of the strongest approaches to a scene is figuring out where I am, where I am going, and what I want. Now what I want is a wish which might not come true, so I also ask myself, "What is the opposite?" and there is the conflict.

Studying opposites has become quite a journey for me. It has lead me to research atoms, which have a positive charge (the proton), and always an equal negative charge (the electron). If all matter is made, and governed by these principles, it seems to follow that other forms of reality should too. I became friends with Peter Hofstee, a professor at Cal Tech, at the time this theory came into my consciousness. His father is a psychiatrist in Holland, and Peter told me that his father would ask his patients questions, and when the answers were given he would write them down along with the opposite of each answer. In this manner he would map out their minds, and have a more three dimensional view of them.

Peter and his father gave me tremendous confidence, for these intellectuals used a similar approach. I use to spend so many nights lying awake in bed, tossing and turning, while wondering if I would ever work again. My mind was a roller coaster manufacturing more fear as it went around each corner. My blood could not settle into slumber. Finally one night while looking out my window at a beautiful crescent moon, I looked back at myself as a character in a play and asked, "What's the opposite of never working again?" I laughed out loud, and couldn't remember much more as I fell into a deep sleep. That I night I had a powerful dream that I was a planet hanging in the heavens. The sphere symbolizes totality. I was one, and three dimensional. Since that night I have always used my acting technique to calm my soul, or help me make serious life choices.

When I was young I thought I was studying acting, but later I learned I was studying life. Many of us don't realize this. Our job is to understand our world, or our reality, but unlike a philosopher we act it out instead of just writing about it.

The reason I am compelled to share this, is because I love actors, and I see so many of us reach the boiling point. We get down on casting directors, the way auditions are run, the way we are treated, and on, and on. This builds a negative internal life when we don't use our own problem solving techniques on ourselves. Odd but it works. Your own study applied to yourself works. It is your answers to your reality questions, and when it does work you realize your acting is even stronger because you will be more confident in your approach to reality. This will give you a positive internal life making you stronger for yourself, thus stronger to help the world around you.

Follow your Bliss.
Joe Marinelli is a professional actor. He's had starring roles in numerous films and has appeared in dozens of television shows including "The West Wing," "NYPD Blue," JAG" and "ER."

Copyright © Joe Marinelli. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the author. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
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Reader Comments

Hi im silencd banda 4rm nelspruit mpumalanga 20 yearz of age male, i have not experienced any type of acting ather than school plays but i know and determined to learn about acting, i feel that acting does not come any els but naturally and expirience.

Posted by Silence (2011-11-13) 5127

My name is Valentina. Im 21 years old and 6'2 with dark brown hair and bluish/greenish eyes. I live in Lexington,KY but was born in Belarus. I dont have much acting experience other than stage plays that Ive been in when I was younger and an extra in an independent film called "Nightmare Fuel". I will do whatever it takes if given an opportunity to be on Law and Order SVU. I can memorize stuff easily and am not camera shy (have a great personality)
PS-Law and Order SVU is in my top 5 favorite shows!
Thanks so much,

Posted by Valentina (2009-09-08) 2061

hey my name is jordan, i am 14 years old, & will be 15 in november. i am just about 5'4 and i live in massachusetts. i have done school plays and acting classes but i want to be a professonal actress more then anything! law&order svu is one of my all time favorite shows. it would be incredable to have any type of role on the show just as long as im acting! please contact me back, thank you :)

Posted by jordan (2009-08-12) 1944

Hi, My name is Allison. I am 13 years old. I live in Danvers, Massachusetts. I'm Caucasian, 5'2. I am a hardworker very open minded and would love anytype of role in Law & Order SVU. I am not experienced any type of acting yet. Only a few school plays and acting classes. I am determined I would love to learn the acting business, acting does come naturaly to me. Thank you.

Posted by Allison McDonald (2009-07-22) 1816

My name is Kathy I am 21 years old I would like to be an extra for Law & Order SVU its my fav. show. I live in the tri state area. How do I go about doing that? Please get back to me. Thanks !

Posted by Kathy (2009-07-21) 1806

My name is Asia Marche and I am 14 going on 15, I am star material because I believe I can entertain America. I always wanted to be on television and I believe that I am a very good actress because I can make the character I transform into believable and I want the world to see what I can do.

Posted by Asia (2009-07-09) 1747

Hello. I'm an eighteen year old Mexican female. I've been watching Law and Order:SVU for a long time now. I believe they are going to start shooting the eleventh season this July and I would love to be apart of the show, even if it was just in one episode. Mariska Harigaty is my ultimate rolemodel. I look up to her so much and it would be such a privlage to work along side her. I have no acting experince but I'm a very fast learner and a very hard worker. If you believe that I could possibly get an auditon please contact me. Thanks so much!

Posted by Ashley Sanchez (2009-06-15) 1579

Hi, I'm Nick, I'm 13, and have had acting experience. I have been in drama club for 2 years. I was also part of a video about emotions. I was also a part of an online webshow for 1 year. I'm about 5'9 and am average on the weight scale. I am a huge fan of acting and continue to do it. I live in Wood-Ridge,NJ and hope you can get back to me. Any part is good enough for me.

Posted by Nick (2009-05-26) 1497

hey my name is Jessica. I love law and order svu and i would love to be in the show. i have no acting experience but im a fast learner. other than being a detective when im older acting is something i also want to do. im a dominican-american. im about 5'5 or 5'6.i live in garfield nj. im 14 yrs old. cantact me if anything. i would do any role im asked to do.


Posted by Jessica (2009-05-09) 1432

I would like to be in law and order. Im 18 years old and afican american and hungarian. Im about 5'5 and average weight. I live in staten island NY and im a very good listener also i can learn roles very fast. Can you give me a shot i would appreciated it. Thanks

Posted by Ebony S (2009-05-05) 1409

hi my name is Jasmine, and I would love to be an actrees in Law and Order. I am currently with the John R.P agency so i have much experience. I have been acting for years and acting is my passion.
contact me
thank you for your future consideration!

Posted by Jasmine (2009-05-04) 1406

hi im ashlee huddleston and i want to act on law and order svu for soooooooooooooooo long...

Posted by Ashlee Huddleston (2009-04-27) 1354

My name is Emilie, and I am fifteen years old. I'm about 5'4, and I have brown hair and brown eyes. I don't have much acting experience, except for doing two plays at the Teche Theatre in Franklin. My cousin and I (Thirteen, brown hair and brown eyes) would love the opportunity to be on Law and Order: SVU.

Posted by Emilie (2009-02-20) 1036

HI!!i am 13 years old i am cocation or how ever you spell it and i have brown hair green eyes kind of on the short side and i wou LOVE LOVE LOVE to be on law and order svu i have only been in theater and church plays but acting is a natural gift to me so if yall need any character with my description PLEASE EMAIL ME!!!!!I AM FRE ANY ANY ANY TIME!!!!!!!!

Posted by rebekah (2009-02-20) 1035

I am almost 14 years of age caucasian slim build dirty blonde hair and abot 5'3 I have green blue eyes and I have also had expirince in the theater and on set I have been raised aorund all art and Law and Order Special Victims Unit is my favorite show on television

Posted by Fallon O'Connor (2009-01-29) 948

I am almost 14 years old slim build dirty blonde hair and abot 5'3 I have green blue eyes and I have also had expirince in the theater and on set I have been raised aorund all art and Law and Order Special Victims Unit is my favorite show on television

Posted by Fallon O'Connor (2009-01-29) 947

i love this show but other than that i love acting i am great at it and im not lying like some people to get on t.v if i could just be on the show i would show the world what i can do. i am determined to do what i do best

Posted by olivia (2009-01-19) 904

Hello, my name is Brooke Hall and I am 15 years old and I absolutely love TV shows. I have acted in school plays and I have directed 2 plays. I love to right plays and one day I hope to be a director and producer. Acting is really important to me, though. I have a very outgoing and funny personality. I do the best that I can to follow my dreams and I have succeeded in that task. I have written plays and put them into competitions and won. Please help me to to achieve my next step in following my dreams. Thank you for your time and have a wonderful day.

Brooke Hall

Posted by Brooke Hall (2009-01-04) 833

Hi, my name is Karina and I'm 14 years old. I'm Caucasian, 5'3" and I've always wanted to be an actress. I live in Ottawa, ON. I have the looks and the personality to be an actress. I am willing to do whichever part is necessary, whether it be an extra or an actual role. I'll be happy with any role I'm given. I just really want to have this great experience and try being an actress. It's something that I think I have talent for and could deliver my part very well. I'm very outgoing and love camera's and I am very convincing on screen. Please give me a shot,



Posted by Karina H. (2009-01-03) 800

I am looking for information on how to audition to be an extra or be in law and order svu. I been wanting to be an extra for awhile but never could find out how to audition. If anyone can send me information it would be much appreciated!


Posted by Natalie (2008-12-18) 691

Hi. I am 13 years old soon to be 14. I have not experienced any type of acting other then school plays and acting classes. But I know and I am determined to learn that acting business. I feel that acting does come naturally to me. I love acting, it's very hard but very, very fun as well.
Thank you for your time in reading this.

Posted by Alyssa Flores (2008-11-22) 604

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