Work, Not Technique

Acting is a discipline, and like most disciplines, there are a variety of techniques for the performer to produce compelling and authentic work. However, some actors get so caught up with technique that they end up limiting themselves with the theories and methods, resulting in a myopic approach to their work.

The techniques that you learn are there to serve the work. As award-winning actor Raphael Sharge once said, “It’s about the work. Period. A pure, honest expression of one’s humanity, without specific strategies or techniques to manipulate or indicate what it’s like to be a person in the world.”

As actors, you have to be ready to stand naked and true in front of an audience who are there to watch you take risks, stay vulnerable and bare your soul. You will experience moments when you will find it hard to perform well, bogged down as you are by illnesses, relationship problems, criticism and financial woes. But as much as you should learn from these experiences, remember to forgive yourself for them too. They are not an indication of your talent but a series of unfortunate external circumstances that test and challenge you. From them, you will eventually learn to survive and fortify yourself before entering the rehearsal room or going on stage to perform. In other words, use these experiences to bring you forward, instead of falling back on theories and methods as a failsafe.

Acting, for the most part, is a solitary journey. It starts when you walk into an audition by yourself, feeling the pressure of having to prove your suitability for a role. It will be daunting. But the more it happens, you will find yourself handling it better. To help you get there faster, find a place where you feel safe to express yourself and make mistakes. This place should allow you to fail (and gloriously at that), while challenging you to be the best that you can be. In other words, the place should have a community that encourages you and your growth.

With a right work approach to work, acting and surviving in the industry can be less terrifying and more satisfying. After all, when you act, you express humanity. And what’s more human than you, as a person, without being weighed down by excessive techniques?

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