Acting is a natural process. We come into the world knowing how to act. As children we play, placing ourselves in imaginary circumstances in order to teach ourselves about life. As we grow, we are told that playing is for children, and most of us channel this particular energy elsewhere. Yet some of us maintain the desire to keep playing. Some of us grow in the desire to examine the world by placing ourselves in imaginary circumstances, by illuminating parts of ourselves that we might not get to experience in the ordinary nature of our days. These people are often actors and other artists of the theatre.
I believe that the study of acting has to do with learning to free the “player” inside of us, the “player” who has the spontaneity of a child and the sensitivity and sensibility of an adult.
Learning to free this “player” can be as simple and as complicated as learning to free one’s own breath. Simple, because when my body is free to breathe without unnecessary tension, I can respond freely to any circumstances, real or imaginary. I do not have to predetermine what these responses will be and I can trust my own creative instincts and impulses. Complicated, because to give in to my own honest responses and the emotional honesty I often censor in my own life is not always so easy.
Finally it is an excuse to be all of who I am! The whole process is a joyful one. The more an actor learns to recognize and trust his or her own creative impulses, the more the text can ignite the imagination, the more the play comes to life, the more the production and the audience are served.
Although you will be strongly encouraged in this book to work on and develop yourself, as you are the instrument of your work, you will also be encouraged to start from exactly where you are in any given moment. Where your voice is today is where it is today. Where your body is today is where it is today. Where your heart is today is where it is today and this is what we work with. There’s no striving to be something different from what you are or any need to communicate from any other place than your own heart, at any given moment. Your goal will be to tell the truth of every moment so that you can share the mystery of discovery with your fellow actors and your audience.
Breath technique teaches ways to accomplish this goal. We stretch our breathing muscles so that they enhance our capacity to breathe. We gain awareness of the boundaries of awareness so that more and more of our behavior becomes conscious as we define ourselves as seekers of the joy of our own experience as a way of creating truthful, spontaneous, text-based behavior in the characters we create.
By its very nature, your approach to your work is always changing and growing.