Drawing from the diverse skills I was learning in Wonderland, including mime, ballet, modern dance, and tumbling, as well as vocal training and an astounding series of masterclasses,... drawing on all of this added to my ongoing training in Gestalt Therapy, as I created curricula and techniques especially for each group or individual, I came to see ever more clearly how learning of the art of acting can be transformational.
First of all, in a very real sense, if you're breathing, you're acting. [If you'd like a glimpse of a kind of classical acting training I adored as a teenager, click here.] When we move from the spacious idea of Actors' Training to the moment you realize that your name is on the Cast List and maybe your audition didn't stink as badly as you thought, when your heart pounds for a little while as you try to focus on the rest of the casting decisions.
The whole time your monkeymind is chattering, "What?!? Me play the lead? Why me? Can I even learn the part?...etc etc."
Of course you're glad.
Your best friend shouts out, "You rule! You're perfect for that part!"
Yikes, you think, how can I be convincing as this other person when I don't even know myself?!?
Okay, I'm dramatizing a bit extravagantly now, aren't I? But you get my drift. So what is the challenge of acting a part? On the one hand, that challenge is ENORMOUS: reading, listening, discussing, questioning, memorizing, moving, voicing, always seeking. On the other hand, you are simply making believe in a sustained manner, creating a new reality as you go.
Along the way, it helps to de-couple acting from the whole idea of being false, fake or "unreal." Impersonating someone in order to gain advantage from another is, no matter how well acted, a crime. But that doesn't mean that dressing up, adjusting your voice and gait, and even speaking a playwright's words add up to something ersatz.
When you start working on a role, there's no best way to proceed. In addition to receiving guidance from the play and the director, you are doing an important part of the work all on your own. And to find what is your best way of beginning (each time anew), you are required to have done and to continue to do some careful introspection. In my view, great acting is born of hard won self-knowledge.
The intersection between acting and introspection is my topic for next time.