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The Stanislavsky Acting System

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If you have taken or are currently taking a drama class, then chances are you are familiar with the Stanislavsky acting method. Constantin Stanislavsky gained prominence early in the 20th century both as an actor and a director. Known as the”Father of Method Acting”, Stanislavsky created an acting system that is founded on realism. Until today, this system continues to influence the various acting methods being used in America.

Imagination and Emotions

Stanislavsky believes that in order to achieve realism in acting, the stage actor must be able to believe the circumstances occurring in the play. Therefore, he must use his imagination. One effective method that you (as an actor) can use to achieve realism is by asking yourself the “what if” question: “What if this situation was really happening to me?”

It’s also not enough to rely on what’s written on the script about your character. It’s also a good idea to have a deeper understanding of your role by asking yourself some questions that can help you get to know your character more. “What does my character want?” “Where does my character come from and where does he wish to go?”

If you find it difficult to focus on your character’s emotions, it might help to imagine your motivation and objective instead. You can then translate your character’s motives into actions. For instance, does your character want to help or to sabotage someone? Or does he wish to chase or run away from a certain situation?

Overcoming Stage Fright

Stage fright is certainly one of the most common problems that a lot of beginning actors come across with. Even if you don’t have stage fright, there may be times when you feel tense performing in front of an audience. To help you overcome this anxiety, Stanislavsky recommends practicing to achieve “solitude in public”. You can start by picking out a small area in the stage and considering that as your private space. Gradually, you can start widening this private space until it becomes the entire stage.

Character-Building Exercises

Building your character involves more than just exploring his emotional condition. In the Stanislavsky acting system, actors are also encouraged to develop their characters from the outside. For instance, your character might have a certain way of walking or speaking. These seemingly little physical details can have a big impact on the development of your character.

What To Expect From The Stanislavsky System

Relaxation exercises are an important part of the Stanislavsky acting method. Once you have accomplished these exercises, you can then begin working on your concentration. For advanced actors, they can improve concentration through “emotional memory exercises” (also known as “sensory exercises”). These exercises involve re-creating the circumstances of the scene in his imagination. For instance, if the scene requires you to look guilty, you might want to recall a similar situation where you also did something terrible but did not want to admit to it right away.

As mentioned, the character’s physicality is also emphasized in the Stanislavsky acting system. Expect to spend a lot of time practicing your speech. You might also be required to take other performing classes that can contribute to your acting as well, such as singing and dance.

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DIY Acting Techniques

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DIY Acting TechniquesMost people have dreamed of becoming a famous actor at one time or another. For the majority of these people, it’s just a passing fancy—an entertaining daydream to pass the time. These people really don’t have the desire to seriously pursue acting. Then there are those people who give it a halfhearted attempt. They join a play or two, take some acting classes, but eventually give up when they discover how tough the acting industry is. And then there are those aspiring actors who cannot imagine themselves pursuing any other career. If you think you belong to the last group, then it’s time to see if you have what it takes. Before you invest in an expensive drama school or move to New York or LA, take a look at these DIY acting techniques that you can do by yourself.

Observe veteran actors

One of the easiest ways to learn acting techniques is by simply watching and observing actors that you idolize. If you don’t have a particular favorite actor, then try observing well-recognized or award-winning actors and actresses. Buy, rent or download the films which garnered them awards and study their performances. This will mean watching the film a couple of times. During the first time, watch the film as you would normally watch any movie. The second time around, pay close attention to the acting of the actor. Observe how the actor plays his character, and take notes if you must.

Mimic the performance of the actors

Another effecting acting technique would be to mimic the actor in various scenes in the movie. Not only will this allow you to try acting firsthand, but it will also make you aware of the many subtleties that are involved in acting. These subtle details go unnoticed most of the time, but as you mimic the actor, you will learn how simple details like a nod of the head or a half-smile can have a huge impact on a scene.

Try method acting

Method acting is one of the most popular acting techniques available. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson are Hollywood heavyweights that are also method actors. Method acting is basically becoming the character, instead of just playing the character. It will require you to be in your character’s shoes even when you are off-screen. A good exercise is to create a character in your mind. Make sure that you develop this character’s background, motivation, habits and everything you can know about him. For a few hours a day, imagine yourself as the character while doing the things you would normally do. How would your character eat? How would he walk down the street? Practice with many different scenarios.

Recall emotional experiences

If you have trouble conveying emotions in a believable manner, one of the things you can do is to recall your own real-life experiences. For instance, if the scene calls for you to be nervous, you can go back to a memory of a situation where you were really overwhelmed with anxiety.

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The Stella Adler Acting Method

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Stella Adler Awake and DreamDo you want to become a successful actor like Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts and Salma Hayek just to name a few? If you do, then you might want to study the Stella Adler acting technique. The famous actors mentioned are only among the many Hollywood stars who studies the Stella Adler method in order to improve their acting skills. Stella Adler was an experienced film and theater actress before she started teaching. Although she trained under the renowned Stanislavsky, Adler did not necessarily agree with all his principles. For instance, although Adler believes that imagination is key to becoming a successful actor, she doesn’t think that it’s necessary for the actor to go back to his own experiences to be able to convey realistic emotions.

Look For Actions

According to Stella Adler, a good actor knows how to translate his imagination into actions. She says that it’s important for the actor to be constantly doing something while onstage. This doesn’t mean that you should always be moving around the stage. It means that you should focus on the emotions of your character and translate them to the equivalent actions. For instance, is your character trying to plead, to help, to teach, to demean, to avoid, etc.? It’s important that you know the motivation behind every line your character says and every move he makes.

How to Develop the Imagination

Being a good observant is necessary for developing the imagination. You should always be observing the world around you, making sure that you focus even in the slightest details. You can then imagine these specific details and use them onstage as though you are really seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting these details. Once you have done this effectively, the audience will be able to see the scene through your eyes.

It’s also important to use your imagination and intellect when studying the play or the script. Of course, it’s not enough that you know your scenes and have memorized your lines, you should also understand the entire story of the play and the motivation behind it. It also helps if you imagine the social situation of the play. What is the story’s milieu and how does this milieu affect your character?

Some Acting Exercises

The Stella Adler Acting method requires acting students to perform a lot of exercises. One good acting exercise that you can do is selecting a single line from a play that you haven’t read or watched before. Now, try to imagine the motivation behind the character saying that particular line. What are the circumstances? What is the character trying to achieve? Make sure that the situation you choose is something that you feel passionately about so you can live the lines, instead of just memorizing and saying them.

The Stella Adler acting method is an ideal acting technique for aspiring stage actors. If you feel that your acting skills are still down to “role-playing”, then the Stella Adler method can also train you to hone your imagination so you make the circumstances of the play as real as possible.

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The Meisner Acting Technique

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Sanford MeisnerIf you are pursuing a career as a professional actor then you probably know that there are many acting techniques that you can use to master your craft. One of these techniques is the Meisner Acting method. Like many acting techniques, the Meisner method was influenced by the Stanislavsky acting system. However, unlike the Stanislavksy technique which involves plenty of mental exercises (such as the sense memory exercise), Meisner insists that an actor mustn’t just work “in his head”. Instead, Meisner emphasizes the importance of spontaneity and instincts in an actor’s training.

Doing and Acting

Unlike other acting methods which requires the actor to think extensively about his role, the Meisner technique also puts importance in the act of “doing” itself. Meisner believes that in order to become a credible performer, you need to be engaged in something real that is occurring onstage, not just in your imagination. Once you become committed to what is really happening onstage, it will be much easier for you to act using your impulses.

Focusing On the Moment

Focusing on what is occurring at the given moment also figures heavily in training under the Meisner acting method. Instead of thinking about your character’s objective and what will happen next in the scene, it’s important that you experience the scene as the present moment. After all, this is true enough in real life. Even though we do our best to plan and prepare for the future, the only tangible circumstance that we can deal with is none other than the present moment. Another way that you can concentrate on the present moment is by focusing more on the other actor/actors in the scene with you, rather than yourself.

Daydreaming vs. Sense Memory

Other acting methods such as the Stanislavsky method makes use of sense memory exercises in order to convey realistic emotions in a scene. What the actor does is recall his own real-life experiences that are similar to the situation in the scene. This way, he can re-create the appropriate emotions. Although this method works for a number of successful actors, Meisner believes that simple daydreaming or fantasizing is even more reliable than sense memory exercises. This can be particularly helpful if the scene involves a situation which you have never experienced before. For instance, let’s say that you are supposed to play a role of someone who has been betrayed by a loved one. If you haven’t had a similar experience before, you can imagine a fantasy instead. Say your best friend revealed a secret that you confided in her. You will probably feel a mixture of anger, hurt and other emotions. You can then play off these emotions during the scene.

Some Meisner Technique Exercises

If you will be studying acting under the Meisner acting method, you should expect to do a lot of exercises. For instance, you will be doing some exercises to help you learn your lines mechanically, without focusing yet on pauses, intonation, tempo, etc. This will allow you to become spontaneous when you are actually saying your lines in the scene.

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Acting Technique: How to Memorize Lines

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How to memorize linesLearning and memorizing lines is without a doubt one of the most common problems that many actors experience. If you have found yourself many times stammering onstage or in front of the camera, racking your brain for your next line, then don’t worry: you’re not alone. Many actors have trouble memorizing their lines. Unfortunately, memorizing lines is one of the nonnegotiable aspects of acting. Even though you will sometimes hear famous actors talking about how they would improvise, you can guarantee that they started out memorizing their lines as well. Here are some tips to help you learn your lines better:

Repeat and repeat again

Repetition is not only one of the most common ways to memorize your lines, it is also extremely effective. Of course, you don’t want to just repeat the lines in your head, you need to say them out loud repeatedly. If you’re a beginning actor, the best thing to do would be to say your lines as you would say them during the performance itself. Some advanced actors say their lines out loud in a mechanical manner. Only during performances do they add the pauses, silences, tempo, intonation, etc. This helps them become spontaneous in their acting.

Listen and communicate with other actors in the scene

Many actors make the mistake of listening to other actors in the scene, just so they can hear the cue for their next line. This might help you say your lines on time, but it will certainly disrupt your performance. Keep in mind that to become an effective actor, you need to believe the situation or the circumstances happening in the play or the film. Obviously, you won’t be able to do this if all you’re thinking about is your lines. When you listen attentively to your fellow actor, you get to contextualize your lines, which in turn helps you remember them better. Your acting performance also improves since you become more “natural” in saying your lines.

Get moving

Studies have proven that movement can help you remember your lines better. So when practicing your lines on and off the stage, make sure that you perform the accompanying movements as well—whether it’s pacing around or just making simple gestures.

Rehearse on your free time

Although there are plenty of rehearsals and read-throughs before the actual performance, these may not be enough for someone who needs to exert extra effort to memorize lines. If this sounds like you then you need to take the initiative to practice the lines on your own. Record the lines and use your MP3 player to listen to them on your free time. You can just choose to read the other actors’ lines and leave yours blank so you can supply them. Practice your lines while driving, working out at the gym, washing dishes and other everyday activities. By the time you are about to go onstage or in front of the camera, chances are you have memorized your lines so much that you can say them in your sleep.

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Milton Katselas – My Acting Approach

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Milton KatselasActing, Attitude, and Administration – these are the broad areas of my teaching. Acting is of course the craft, the technique, the process by which you create your work. By Attitude I mean the viewpoint and feeling of the artist towards his life, towards himself and what he creates, towards his fellow artists and all of the people in his life. Administration – this is the area where the actor, through specific choices and specific actions that are then carried out, puts this talent and attitude effectively into the world, and so moves his or her career forward. I believe that in order to create a complete actor, a real artist who can function well for the long haul in this business, each of these three areas, inextricably linked to one other, must be cooking. A long-term career is a constant dance between the three. Let me dive in a bit further on each:

Acting:

When I was a young boy, my father said to me, “Know thyself.” It sounds even better in Greek, and more imposing when you have a guy like my father standing over you as you hear it. I think acting affords you the best opportunity to know yourself. Acting is a noble and respected field of the arts, and in my opinion the most personal. It gives you the opportunity to understand your fellow man through the depiction and experience of living even a fraction of his life. There are essentially two ways actors go about this journey – two different intentions: One is that of the poser, the indicator, the phony, and the other is that of the honest actor who tries in his or her own way to live the experience of the character. My approach is geared to the latter, toward helping that honest actor develop a very personal experience.

There are many choices an actor can make to create a very personal connection, including using his imagination. But I’m really interested in the Greek actor in ancient times about whom I read – he had to play a scene, and this actor brought an urn to the amphitheatre and placed it on the altar onstage – an urn filled with the ashes of his own son who had died. In an unflinching way, he brought to his acting one of the most personal and painful objects in his life, to help fire him up as an actor. That certainly turns me on as a teacher, that quest for a personal connection to the role.

It’s easy to look at Marlon Brando’s work and identify it as acting I’m interested in – I truly believe his work is a high mark in the field of acting – always human, personal, always intelligent, and often filled with unexpected humor.

The unexpected. I like that in an actor. I generally prefer sports to acting, because in sports you just never know what is really going to happen. In any sport, no matter the odds, there is always the possibility of an upset, the last second shot, the hail-Mary pass, a wild play that leads to the unexpected failure of the better team, the underdog comes out ahead – these possibilities keep me glued to a good game. A fine basketball player will discover the open man at the last second – that split-second discovery is key to the excitement. So part of my approach is to give the actor tools for creating an acting experience filled with discovery, spontaneity, surprise, and freshness.

If I were to bottom-line it, I would say that I want the acting to be real. I want its foundation at the very least to represent life as we know it. When an actor is doing something on stage, I want him really to be doing it, or at least a damned good likeness of it. If an actor is on the telephone, I want to feel that the particular character to whom he’s talking is on the other end. Specifically. If he’s playing a butcher, he should know how to carve the meat so that any butcher in the audience believes him.  If the characters are in love, I want to feel the intense affinity and feverishness that love can inspire. And not the cornball fake swooning stuff – I mean the real deal, so that I believe they’re really in love. Shakespeare said love is a disease, and I want to see that – if it’s the kind of love that the Bard is talking about, where obsession rules, let’s experience it – go for it.

But simple reality isn’t always enough. It’s the foundation – and without it you’re going to have real problems most of the time. But moving past a baseline reality, we come to the imagination of the actor, an expressiveness, an intelligence, the unexpected moment, the use of irony and humor to deal with difficult situations. Definitely humor, so that even those naturalistic coffee-shop scenes are elevated to a new level – as in When Harry Met Sally. Or the way Cary Grant cracked me up – even in the tense Hitchcock dramas, he maintained that charm and irony. Look, I admire Lucille Ball and what she did on that television show. It was hilarious, madcap, but had at the root of it a reality, the reality of her relationship with Desi Arnaz. Maybe there are not a lot of people who would put Marlon Brando and Lucille Ball in the same sentence, but both of them interest me and I like both of their work. So I’m not just about serious acting. I love to entertain, and be entertained. I’ve assigned some of my most talented and serious students to do some pretty madcap stuff in class.

But if you held my feet over the fire and insisted I succinctly describe my approach to acting, I’d say I come at it like the director I am. I ask all sorts of questions. What’s the story? What do people do when dealing with events like these? How do they respond? What’s their behavior? I want a real-person, real-place, real-behavior approach to the work, not a sketch, not a skit, not a glib attempt – I want the real deal. And then of course, imagination, humor, surprises, irony, intelligence – the whole enchilada.

So how do I get actors to do this kind of work? I’m sure the question goes around the acting community – what kind of teacher is he? Is he a Meisner guy, a Strasbergian, an Adlerite, a Hagenist…? I’ve been fortunate enough to work with and closely observe all those very talented teachers, as well as apprenticing as a young director with Josh Logan and Elia Kazan.  I’ve observed the masters, and I’ve worked with actors myself for almost half a century. Through all that, I’ve developed my own way of teaching, but it derives a lot from my career as a director. As a director I frankly don’t care how the actor does it. I have limited time, limited money, the sun is going down, we’re losing our light, and we have to shoot, we have to get film in the can. If I discover that an actor does a fabulous job every time he jumps rope before a scene, then I’m buying that guy a rope every time. I don’t care what thoughts he has in his trailer, what exercises he is doing or not doing in his dressing room. The star working opposite that guy may have her own way of working, quite different from the other actor, and I need to understand that and communicate to her differently – she doesn’t jump rope and buying her a rope will do nothing for her. That’s directing. My job is to find out how to communicate to this actor in front of me, discover the language that will best help each individual understand and believe in my vision of the story.

In teaching, it’s still very individual. I look at the particular actor in front of me, and try to deduce what he or she needs, try to find the language and images that will lead them to understand acting better. It’s very individual. I have certain exercises you will read about, and different actors may need to work with them in different ways. But across the board, I would say I look at this individual actor, and when working on a script – whether a play or film – I try to get them to understand the story. What events are associated with this story, what is the specific nature of this character, what happened to them before this scene, what is the behavior associated with the scene, and how can this particular actor, with all his or her uniqueness, bring it all to life in an organic, personal, human way? What would a real person do in this given circumstance? Those are the things I emphasize to the actor. It’s simple. It’s hard sometimes to see the simplicity in acting, and the actor often wants to make it complex, which then makes acting more difficult. So I try to keep it simple, and clear.

Attitude:

I’ve found over the years that attitude monitors talent, just as the aperture on a camera lens monitors light. A small aperture – marked by attitudes like hostility, a chip on the shoulder, the monotonous whining sound of a victim, a spoiled “I don’t wanna work” viewpoint  – allows very little of the light, namely, your talent, to come through. And so a negative attitude can very much affect your performances, your auditions, your relations with the people important to moving your acting career forward. But open up that lens with a good attitude – enthusiastic, willing to learn, cooperative, charming, full of self-esteem – this will affect every moment of your life, and let more of your acting talent come through. This is why you observe the phenomenon that actors who may not be the most talented in the world, but who have a great attitude, a wide lens opening, often can have very rewarding careers, while those with the most talent, but with a bad attitude, a small lens opening, can become embittered and seemingly stuck.

There are, of course, innumerable reasons why any person can have a negative attitude of one kind or another. In instances where I can spot it, I will try as best I can to help the actor deal with the attitude, get them to realize they can change it for the better. I try to listen, get their point of view, and then use charm, humor, toughness, whatever is needed to help them make that change. But I can’t always be there to help in this way, and my job is to train actors to do it for themselves – the acting work, the attitude, everything. My real interest is in persuading my students not to use their psychological problems as an excuse for not working at the top of their game. I learned this from the great director Josh Logan when I worked for him. He described to me an experience he had with Janet Blair, who was getting ready to star in the road company of South Pacific, in the role that Mary Martin had originated on Broadway. Martin was the be-all and end-all of musical comedy performers, and Janet was intimidated by her, and it was affecting her ability to bring the role to life. Josh told me how he went to her room and simply spoke to her about her talent, asked about her life, her family. He said she was soundly changed by the conversation, felt more confident, and that this became evident in her performance. And that was when I realized that properly assessing and dealing with the attitude of the actor was an important aspect of being a director. That hadn’t been covered in university.

A good attitude is really about enthusiasm, which at its Greek roots means “energy from the Gods.” Actors can often be a notoriously moody bunch, full of insecurities, hostility, and 31 other dubious flavors of negativity, and I for one want to change that whenever I see it. I’m looking to rehabilitate that energy of the gods. An actor with a good attitude has the ability to handle his fellows, solve problems, using a positive manner to make every set and stage they’re on a better place to be for everyone. I feel attitude is a crucial component in the actor’s overall health and potential for success – many actors have been hired and re-hired simply because it’s a pleasure to have them around for the strenuous and lengthy hours of work that are demanded by theatre and film projects.

Administration:

An actor in tune with his administration is an effective, proactive artist who makes smart choices to enhance his career and its potential for development, as well as his very life, and sees to it that these choices are carried out. I believe the actor is the true manager, the true administrator of his or her career. Skilled and dedicated agents and managers can help along the way for sure, but my observation is that too many actors take a back seat when driving their own car. So once I have an actor on my hands who I believe does consistently good work, and whose attitude is aligned with that talent, my next question is:  What choices are you making about your career, and are these choices moving it forward? Are you taking the actions you need to put your talent and your good attitude into the world? Do you write letters to directors whom you admire, congratulating them on their latest project, or keeping-in-touch notes to people you’ve auditioned for or worked with in the past?  Are you up to date on the tools for promoting yourself on the internet? As I’ve written in my book Dreams Into Action, administration can also include having a clean, bright happy place to live, a real desk of your own where you can work, and handling your finances so you aren’t stressed by that issue. It includes the actions you take in the real world to keep your attitude in check – if you know a morning workout puts you in a better frame of mind for the day ahead, then that is part of your administration. “Admin,” as it is referred to by my students, includes the scheduling of your busy life to ensure you make your rehearsals on time, getting enough sleep, doing well at your day jobs. It’s knowing about fashion, looking good, not using drugs and alcohol, going to art galleries, deepening your knowledge as an artist and a person. All of these choices are just about being smart, doing the right thing for your life and your career. More artists have screwed themselves up by lack of administration than by lack of talent. Unlike composers, writers and painters, the actor cannot be discovered after he dies. So I want you all to be working actors now, and administration plays a key role.

In my classes you will find that actors have formed “support groups” or “admin groups” – wherein 5-10 actors will get together once a week outside class to check on one another, if necessary to inspire and cajole one another, regarding completing actions for their career. It has been a very successful tool – it gives the students a group of peers to whom they are accountable, and they inspire one another to make the right choices for their career.

So we have these three areas of work – Acting, Attitude and Administration. I meet up against them in class every day. Over there is an actor full of hostility, a chip on his shoulder the size of Colorado, but I’ll try to charm him, befriend him, get him to smile, and just talk to him about the acting. For him, I feel the answer is that personal connection, and the craft – getting detailed, and real with the work itself. Next to that guy is a young actress whose talent is unbelievable, but she’s withdrawn and insecure, and if she could just lighten up and be more charming and believe in herself a bit more, the talent would explode – and with her I do talk about that attitude issue. And behind her is the dark horse, the underdog, the one you would never think could be successful, but he quietly writes a great letter to a known director, gets a meeting from that, and lands a part – he passes all the other students on the freeway from administration alone. That’s how I did it.

But I don’t want you to think the class itself is 33.3% Acting, 33.3% Attitude, and 33.3% Administration. The foremost emphasis is acting – the development of the craft, the technique, the ability and creativity of the actor. I speak of attitude and administration only to facilitate and enhance the power of a skilled actor to do his or her work and get it out there into the world. All the attitude and administration in the world will be for naught if we don’t have actors who know what they are doing.  In the end, the craft, the work – that’s what’s most important.

**Excerpted from the Beverly Hills Playhouse Acting Class book, Acting Class: Take A Seat. Copyright 2008: Milton Katselas. All Rights Reserved.

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Acting Class: All You Can Be

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Be A Movie StarBy Milton Katselas

Don’t minimize your acting because of your life. Please try not to justify that you can’t do something in your acting because of what you can’t do in your life. Don’t use your psychology as an excuse for not being able to execute something in your art. Instead, use acting to do that which you can’t do in your mundane life. So, in a sense, to hell with psychology. Go for the art. Get interested in art, and who knows – maybe the psychology will improve. In your art you can bound over and beyond anything that you believe is limiting you.

Art is not just about you, but about the possibilities of you. It’s an odd part of my teaching acting classes in Los Angeles, but sometimes when a student in a critique offers up some personal fear or insecurity as a reason the role was difficult, here’s my answer: “No one cares. Not a single person. No one in this room. No one in any other room.” It sounds a bit harsh, but, unfortunately, it’s true. No one cares about how your problems limit your art or your life. We’ll only care if you take a problem, like your fear or insecurity, and turn it into Joan of Arc’s courage. We care about how you surmount that problem. It’s possible that some actor, less talented than you, but without the excuse of having this particular problem, will snatch the part right from under you, and pass you on the freeway. I don’t want that. I want you doing the passing.

This is where I am, this is who I am, therefore this is all I can give. No. Too limited. Instead: This is what I have in my fantasy, this is what I have in my imagination, this is what I can give. Not what I think I am, but what I dream I can be. What I truly want to be. I live in my art through my passion, my fantasy, not my mundane reality. The gossip is that Frank Lloyd Wright was at times petty. But he wasn’t petty when he sat at a drawing table. Are you going to study his rumored pettiness or are you going to study his drawings, his buildings? An inflammatory pop biography portrays Picasso as an egomaniacal monster. Just look at the humanity in the body of his work.  His painting, his sculpture, his pottery were all sublime. Alec Guinness lived a quiet, conservative English country life. Put him on stage in a dress and he was wildly imaginative. So they tell you Martin Luther King is alleged to have done this or done that; who cares? I don’t care if it was true; I don’t care if it’s untrue. What I care about is that he was one of the greatest speakers and spiritual leaders of all time. One of the greatest that has ever graced our planet. It was his dream that he followed, not the mundane reality of the world around him, which he was actually seeking to change.

An actor in my classes once said to me, “I’ve always been the second banana.” As we talked, he spoke to me about having been the gofer for Marvin Gaye: “Go for coffee, go for sandwiches.” I replied, “Jesus, you’re a powerful, sexy man. You’re no gofer.” Something seemed to shift within him. Two weeks later, we played basketball together and he played very differently: Tough, in a new winning way. Immediately his work as an actor took an enormous leap. He ended up becoming a wonderful talent, quite successful in films and television, and later even developed into quite a powerful teacher in his own right. Second banana, see ya later.

As a teacher, I look at everyone not as they are, but rather in terms of what they’re capable of being. I don’t ever see before me some struggling, self-centered actor wrestling with his or her career or day-to-day problems. I just don’t. I see artists. Powerful, influential artists. And I will only relate to you on that level, the level where you should consider yourselves to be. I’m aiming towards and only interested in who you can be and what you can create as an artist.

**Excerpted from the Beverly Hills Playhouse Acting Class book, Acting Class: Take A Seat. Copyright 2008: Milton Katselas. All Rights Reserved.

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