I am hoping that title either outraged you or challenged you.
It was a trick to get you to read this.
The truth is your understanding of the script structure is accurate and sensible. It makes total sense for the scene you’re auditioning for, or about to shoot.
Only problem is, no one wants to be a spectator to your interpretation.
The art form of acting is in the midst of a major shift.
Have you noticed, what used to work no longer works?
A bravura performance that had logic used to be king.
Likewise, a calm “naturalistic” performance that sounds really real used to be king.
Nowadays that same kind of acting feels like a manipulation of the actor and a waste of time for the audience. This of course applies to anyone who has to give a talk, or is in a live meeting maybe with one of those top acting agencies.
Here’s what’s going on.
We live in an era where there is an extremely low tolerance for manipulation.
People are hungry for truth. We want something real, dammit. We want something unplanned and spontaneous. (Thank you Rick Perry for giving us all of that in the last debate.) I’m back.
Face it, we live in a youtube culture where people are drawn to watching a drunk woman fall of a table.
That shit is real. A couple million clicks on that vid.
Compare that to someone staging a fall.
That vid would maybe get a few hundred clicks. Maybe.
Now, you don’t have to ride your bike off your patio – but you must offer your truth to book one of those great acting jobs, giving that presentation, or on youtube for that matter.
When actors first start working with Committed Impulse they tend to present their script analysis in class.
Yes, it makes sense. That’s what they were taught in that top acting school. I can’t argue with their idea of the scene. But the experience for those of us watching is kinda dead.
Here’s how the process needs to go to spark the audience’s imagination and spirit.
Read the script, come up with your intellectual interpretation of the material, and then turn your interpretation into organic matter. Yes, you must turn your ideas into spontaneity. You must transfer the ideas so that your body comes alive.
Truth, wisdom and imagination live in your body (not in your thoughts).
You must tell the truth fully while you create.
If you lie, manipulate yourself in any way, the ritual of acting will fall flat.
Remember, this is a physical art form, not an intellectual art form.
And here’s a fascinating truth, when you create from the honesty of the moment – your interpretation comes through beautifully. Kinda magical.
The beauty of Committed Impulse, or any other approach that holds the truth above anything else, is that the truth is always available to you.
You don’t have to dig around for anything.
You can stop manipulating yourself.
The audience only wants to see your experience in the moment of creation.
Yes – there are Committed Impulse tools we explore in class to alter your body information to support your intellectual ideas – but then you must tell the truth about that alteration.
If you are not creating from exactly where you are the audience’s imagination will not spark.
If you spark the audience’s imagination you will be a steadily working artist.
Again – everything you need, you already have.
Trust it, offer it, have fun.
Thanks for reading.
Be a part of this next wave. This next movement. This thing called CI.
Pop the share button, tweet this, tell your friends. Let’s make a revolution of truth.
Love this Josh- an artistic battle cry. I’m in!
Adam Finelli says
Thanks for this post Josh. My name is Adam Finelli and I study Chekhov with a studio in Boston.
I’d like to get a better idea of how working with more spontanaeity as you talk about it in this post could tie into working with my imagination.
I am reading Uncle Vanya in preparation for scene work and I am reading it slowly enough to allow descriptive words to affect me emotionally in order to then see the scene. For example, one of the first descriptive words in Uncle Vanya is “cloudy.” I can easily picture Marina and Astrov having tea on a cloudy afternoon and the atmosphere to me is melancholy. Im not analyzing the play as much as I am plain seeing it. The atmosphere present in the scene informs my strong sense of how each line is spoken.
So you’ve spoken about creating in the present moment as an alternative to intellectually analyzing the structure of a scene (I.e. Script analysis 101.) Now I wonder how the tool of creating in the present moment can be used with imagining the scene’s atmosphere as I’ve described above.
about how audiences respond to spontaneous creation instead of picture the characters on a cloudy day.
“…no one wants to be a spectator to your interpretation.” Adam, for me as an audience member, that statement sums up the whole thing.
What if your interpretation wasn’t near as important as the interpretation in the audience member’s mind?
They can’t interpret truthfully, and allow themselves to then be fully moved and inspired by what they see and feel, if you attempt to plan and digest their feelings FOR them.
If I pay my money to sit in the audience, I want my OWN feelings honored during my experience. I can’t have that if you won’t present your truth.
You cannot PLAN your truth, but you can show me what’s real in the moment. Let me feel and interpret THAT because that’s what will really move and engage me.
…and that’s what I paid for!
@Adam – I remember a director i worked with once saying ‘the audience create the character in their minds, so it’s not up to you worry about what they perceive’. let go about worrying what you’re putting across. live in the moment – respond to the other actors, to the props, even focus on your breathing, rather than get caught up in ‘imagining’ or aiming to make real an ideal in your head. act as if the scene you’re in IS real, because it is really happening, in the present…
<3 yr posts Josh!
Love that Sarah.
Yes, we want to trigger the audiences imagination.
And attempting to manipulate a mood will prevent this ritual from sparking.
Your interpretation is valid Adam, now try what Sarah suggests.
I know this doesn’t seem logical. Your mind won’t want to trust the truth of the moment. But your truth is what will bring the piece to life in the audience’s imagination. That is art.
I’d love to hear from others about this.
Especially those of you that have direct experience with this via Committed Impulse.
Love the discussion
“Read the script, come up with your intellectual interpretation of the material, and then turn your interpretation into organic matter. Yes, you must turn your ideas into spontaneity. You must transfer the ideas so that your body comes alive.”
To Adam – you know that sudden change you feel when you are inside all day, and you walk outside and it’s dark, but you were expecting it to be light, or vice versa? Or cloudy vs. clear.
Previously, because of a feeling in your imagination (which is in your body, Josh always says), you could have sworn it would be light out. It doesn’t really take any thought, let alone “work” or “upkeep”, it’s just kind of a feeling you downloaded.
I feel like that’s what it’s like downloading the info from the script. You don’t need to work at experiencing them — they’re already there.* So much so that if you feel it, and then step outside and see it’s dark not light, you feel a radical shift in your body and imagination.
To me, trying to “hold” a feeling in my imagination/body actually does me a disservice — it keeps me distracted for one, and for another, it blocks me from experiencing that inevitable shift when things change — when I step out there and things are different than I expected.
Hope this was near the mark what you’re talking about. When you’re done in Boston come down for CI! or come down for a weekend, they’re awesome. I’ve been doing it for years and LOVE it.
*If an actor isn’t downloading the script/ the moment, if something is in the way or creating a block, I suggest physical work. Clears it right up so they can keep their focus on the moment.
Susan Stout says
I can understand what Adam is talking about. For me it’s the constant wrestling match between my brain and my body. I do the “work” upstairs on the analysis and the blocking and the intentions and the relationships and the environment. Then I need to trust that my work is there, so I can be fully present physically in the moment to respond to whatever happens between me and my partner (or me and the universe if it’s a monologue.) I seem to suffer from a downloading glitch when I then open my mouth.
My brain’s interpretation doesn’t easily transfer to my body, where the fun begins. So I feel constantly stuck in a hot gooey mess. Moments are happening in front of me but because I have ‘an interpretation’ that I am glued to, I miss the discoveries that are unique each time I do a scene.
What CI is helping me do is to teach my brain and body to be on the same page, that it’s ok each one has a different part of the puzzle and neither of them has to ‘win’. My brain is a terrible back seat driver. I’ve never experienced such joy and freedom when they both play well together- when I can throw myself into the unknown, be ok in that scary panic, and just swim in the magic of being in the scene. I can start with my first idea of what I want to do, and then feel my impulses play with what is given to me. When I watch others do this well, there is magic and energy that I can feel as an audience member. You can see the actors making discoveries right in front of your eyes and it is breath-taking.
It’s a great ride~ Susan
So Adam, as if you haven’t had enough responses to your question, I offer more…..your imagination of the scenery/environment, etc. is not a bad thing….the challenge is to get to a place where you are no longer “imagining” but rather “experiencing,” or “seeing the world” vs. “presenting how you look to the world.” and the scary/brave part is that once you “get into your body,” and TRUST enough to let your mind let go of your idea, then it is effortless. I’ve only experienced this a couple of times and hope to experience it more and more…..AND it may seem like a contradiction, but I love what Josh says, “The more you can increase your tolerance for discomfort, the more invincible you become.” So the effortlessness (is that a word?) comes as a result of letting go of the intellect at a certain point and trust your body (and soul, dare I say) will do the work if you let it tell the truth. And then trust that the souls and bodies listening will create their truth from yours.
I am right now about to press delete cause I am unsure about whether or not this is accurate, cause I’m quoting the teacher on his blog….yikes. here goes….I’m back!
i loved what you said – so i guess, there is already one who is happy, that you did not delete 🙂
interestingly enough, the things we think we should “delete” also from our acting, singing or whatever art form are often precious ones or doors to something, we would have never expected…
for me preparation is crucial (i m a musician), but in the moment of a rehearsal it is like gliding into the water and swim…
…i just had one…and i feel more real than befor 🙂
@josh: thank you for this wonderful post – it was so timely. i love it. a lot. 🙂
Fantastic post Josh!
Fuck analysis. Wait, I’m back.
Do the work– I truly think that is most important. You have to know where are you are in order to allow yourself to get where you’re going. then take the work you’ve done and throw it away and trust it will be there to inform the scene. If you hold on to your ideas of how the scene should be played out, all impulses will go out the window and you’ll be lost in a sea of knowing. Don’t manipulate your thoughts to what you think is right.
a great man once said “be where you are and jam with it” ( the josh.) and thats the most exciting work i’ve seen done. and since you are fully present with the moment and whats happening, it always ends up working for whatever the scene may be. Not only working…it is the most effective scene work there is.
trust yourself, trust the moment and have fun. So inspired by this work!
ps- YES GET PHYSICAL!
John Wehrman says
@Adam, I can understand your desire to want to hold onto that kind of head work. I still got wrapped up in that desire. Wanting to play the analysis, is simply wanting to play your idea of the scene and not the truth. Mamet said it best, “Don’t mistake the map (i.e. the analysis) for the territory”. For me, the analysis is simply a starting point to spark my imagination and get my guts boiling. It’s a map meant to be thrown out. Having taken Josh’s class as well as others, it all boils down to action and the other person’s behavior. The easiest way to get out of your head is to pour your attention on the other person. Allowing the other person’s behavior to really affect you, is more important than any brilliant analysis you could ever come up with. Hope that helps dude
Athena, Sarah, Josh, Ben, Susan, Patty and John,
Thank you for these helpful responses,
Love the discussion.
And certainly analysis has it’s place. But it may not be on stage or in front of a camera.
Love the Mamet line, John, “Don’t mistake the map (i.e. the analysis) for the territory”.