I love looking at human behavior, isolating a behavior and then codifying it to teach to actors. It’s a big part of what acting teachers do. When you examine a real behavior that people engage in daily, and then apply that to your work as an actor, you can find a deeper connection to truth – A truthful connection that brings you closer to a real, spontaneous human experience.
Visualization is not a new acting technique. Lots of folks have spent time on this one and it’s one of my favorite trips to the tool shed.
Here’s how it works…Ask someone to describe someone else in detail. Ask someone to describe a place they visited last year. Ask someone to describe how they wish they were spending their day today. Ask someone to describe their plans for next weekend.
It doesn’t matter if they’re describing something in the past, present or future – it all works the same.
In every case, when a person goes to think about these things, their eyes will immediately begin to search for the details. They’ll look all around their periphery, they’ll look down and up, to the side and straight forward. They’ll soften their gaze and the details of their thoughts will form in their mind’s eye.
Kids do it. Adults do it. I do it. You do it.
And with acting, it can be incredibly powerful because when a skilled and practiced actor on the screen does it…it provides clarity. As an actor, when you see people, places and events and in your mind’s eye, it helps the audience also see what you see.
This isn’t unique to acting, it’s actually a really important part of how we communicate with each other as humans. It’s a part of how we “read” each other. This simple non-verbal communication can reveal so much.
Ready to take a look at an example of an actor using this tool? Take a look at the brilliant Robert Longstreet in the Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House, Season 1, Episode 7, at around Minute 26. Robert does a monologue and I’ve watched it so many times. He sees the people, places and events with such clarity (in his mind’s eye). His work makes his (fairly complicated) story clear to me. His work communicates details and vulnerability that I wouldn’t see in words, alone. His work inspires me to See It Before I Say It.
Until next time,