Philosophy of Acting

By Cori Russell on October 31, 2016

Acting is for everyone. We all do it – we can’t help it, if we are alive. The world is our stage, and we are the players.

 

1. Everyone is Acting

The acting bug bit me when I was young. At the time, I thought it had bit everyone, but I kept to myself about my itchy feeling because I had also been bit by the social anxiety bug. I longed to be on screen and to be in the action. This was not a longing to be famous or have my face shown to the world – as I am now learning is my least-favorite part of the whole experience, but I wanted to interact with the world in an intense, passionate, and playful way. I wanted to be in my flow at full force.

Instead of acting on my dream, I kept it tucked away – neatly preserving it for a life that I’d never obtain.  What I didn’t realize as I pushed my aspirations aside for more obtainable ventures, was that acting is what has been closest to me all along. Professional acting is the business of acting, the technical aspects of acting, and the money-making possibilities of acting. Acting, itself, is a mindset. This mindset is what I crave, the act of acting merely facilitates this mode and focuses a sharp lens on the skill.

Being in the moment is arguably the key to happiness…

Being in the moment is arguably the key to happiness – just ask an existentialist. The heart of acting is being vulnerable, momentarily decisive, aware – perceptive, and connected. This mindset can be achieved through silent meditation (i.e. breathing), active meditation (i.e. finding flow), and through conscious awareness.

 

2. Watching is Inspiring

Every week, at least once, my young father would escort my sister and I to the local movie theater, where we would indulge in our snack senses and fantastical escapism. When the movie was on, I was gone. Either I was in analyzer mode, assessing the script, acting, editing, cinematography, and score – or I was so enthralled in what I was watching that it took all of my common sense to fight my teenage energy when I became overwhelmed with the impulsion to run out of the theater, in the middle of the movie, because I was so imbued with passion that I had to go do – something.

 

3. Doing is Natural

It wasn’t until I had graduated college that I took my first acting class. Besides the acting skills I had learned peripherally from my dance recitals, camp counselors, professional actors’ performances, videos with friends, and from surviving high school, I had not immersed myself in my training – or so I thought. So I joined a class as my birthday gift.

I later learned, however, that I learned as much or more about acting from living than from that class. I learned about the business of acting from the research (i.e. watching YouTube videos of interviews and professional advice) I’d spent countless hours conducting, which has helped me to promote myself and get paid to work – but the art and science of acting can only be learned through experience, and it can become useful for anyone.

The heart of acting is at the heart of action.

The heart of acting is at the heart of action. Everything you do serves to answer one question – why? Why are you speaking to your boss? You want a big raise. Your fiance? You want him to feel the love and respect you have for him. Your Creator? You want to be forgiven. Every interaction, even or especially unspoken interactions, are guided by an internal insight that allows you to relate yourself and your intentions to your external world. You want to affect your surroundings, so you do something – you act.

The same is true for real life actions as is for acting on the stage or on screen. You first observe your surroundings, then you have an internal intention, you perform an action with the hope a certain reaction. If you get the reaction you are hoping for, you may feel happy, and you may act happily. If you don’t get the reaction you are hoping for – you may feel jaded, and you may act apathetic, depending on your character and circumstances.

 

The spotlight may not be for everyone, but we all land a spot in it at some point, even if it is to merely wave at a neighbor or shake a colleague’s hand. When we interact with the world, ourselves, and those around us, we use our energy to intentionally or unintentionally produce an effect – a change. Whether we get the reactions we want, well, that is somewhat out of our control and takes consciousness and practice – but when we do want to see a change in the world around us, all we have to do is act.

Cori is a dual major undergrad at George Mason University, in the wooded hills of Northern Virginia. Her interests vary widely but include cooking, science, art, family, religion, and nature. Her creative writing is often contemplative and based on direct observations or experiences. With her future, she plans to move to Hawaii, swim with dolphins, as well as becoming a mother and starting a family.

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