Nobody likes overacting. Actually, let me rephrase that—nobody likes acting.
The more time I spend in the acting studio the more I realise there is zero joy in watching someone pretend to do something. It is unattractive and off-putting, and as I glance around at the other people watching on it doesn't look like anyone else wants to watch either.
In contrast, if someone is really doing something and allowing us to watch them, it is almost a struggle not to watch. We find our eyes fixated on the performer, our body perched on the edge of the seat and our heat beating out of our chest.
In some weird way the vulnerability of the performer captivates us and takes us into an imaginary world where we can feel and experience what the character feels and experiences.
This is what 'acting' should be—really doing something and giving people permission to watch us as we do it. As artists, this means we are really doing, really feeling, and really experiencing. We are vulnerable, exposed and have no place to hide.
But all too often we feel that simply doing something is not enough and feel that people will find it boring, so we add things in and begin to act. And our scenes die a fatal death.
You are enough
If I take away one thing from my time in the acting studio, I hope it is this:
You are enough.
Again and again my acting teacher says this.
Again and again I have the privilege of sitting in the studio and watching as performers discover the art of leaving themselves alone—just being truthful under their imaginary circumstances and allowing the audience to watch.
As I stand there as a beginner performer being told to leave myself alone and just be, to me it has sounded like the death of my scene is just around the corner. It has felt to me that if I literally leave myself alone and don't do anything extra that no one will want to watch and that my performance will be boring and disengaging.
But the results are staggering as one by one each of us students in the studio have the opportunity to explore this for ourselves.
We crave organics
I don't think the craze about organic products is limited to vegetables and shampoo, I genuinely believe that people gravitate to things that are real. This is the only explanation I have for what I have seen in the acting studio.
People like genuine, authentic, organic, raw, real things. In a world of commercialisation, the smoke and mirrors of marketing, and the overwhelming abundance of mass-produced products, we crave reality.
As a performer it might sound boring to just leave yourself alone, be real and truthful and vulnerable, but I am increasingly more aware that it is exactly what we need to do in order to connect and bring the imaginary world of our characters to life.
Discover the key
Just like our felt need to add bells and whistles to our performances as actors, the world tells us to add bells and whistles to our everyday selves.
We are told to:
Apply this lipstick and your lips will be simply irresistible.
Wear this jeans and heels combo for this spring's X-factor.
Purchase this phone and you will have the world at your fingertips.
If all this is true, then who are we when we don't have all of these things?
The key to being comfortable in who we are as human beings is to simply realise we are enough. We are not just enough as our characters, but also as ourselves.
Yes, there are lots of nice things in the world that make life more comfortable, entertaining and tasteful, but these never change who we really are. And what you are is enough.
I want to see people stand in confidence, realising they don't need anything more or do anything extra to qualify them as interesting, or beautiful, or worthy of attention.
I want to see people realise they are simply enough.
I want to see people realise that they are interesting, and beautiful and worthy of attention without doing anything, simply because they are a human being and the creative product of a Divine Artist.
So, as I ponder on these words—You are enough—I want to try and remember to first apply them to myself as a human being, and then apply them to myself as a performing artist and practice letting them reshape the way that I live and the choices I make.
Charlotte occasionally steps into the imaginary shoes of fictitious characters to bring them to life, training and working as an actress. 'Like' her page on Facebook: Charlotte Goiris to receive regular updates.
Charley Goiris' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/charley-goiris.html