The Only Rule in Acting

Have you ever stopped to contemplate the full implication of the life you have chosen? Stumbling dangerously many times along the road to success- Do you ask yourself, “Should I continue?” The hardships of the profession have broken many a brave contender, but those who persevere, no one or nothing can kill their spirit. They have learned that the survivor is one who keeps on creating, inventing, believing, changing and renewing.

A continuum of practicing and training our craft is one of our most powerful weapons. Reading biographies and autobiographies, not for the chronological events of the actor’s life, but to use as models to help build your own career- Recognizing you are so very fortunate to be a contributor to culture through your creativity can be a strong motivator- Seeking exchanges of criticism in order to grow as an artist- Risking to avoid the conventional to discover new and exciting experimental art forms.

Your art exists in the realms of truth, creativity, imagination, belief, passion and generosity. Perhaps the only “rule” in acting is to honor the human being you are playing. Care enough to create a person with the purpose that other will also honor that human being. You trivialize humanity if you think acting is about learning lines. Acting is about Life and Death- Needs and Wants- Masks and Personas- Tragic Flaws- Actions and Objectives- Conflicts- Crisis- Resolutions- Circumstances- and much more. The human being’s words, who you are playing, enters the actor through the actor’s heart, soul and veins first, and then the brain, along with all of the senses.

Nothing in art has anything to do with rote memory. Actors, beware of anyone who reduces your art form to just learning the lines! Forgive them, for they know not what acting is! The profession of acting is difficult, complicated, complex, but an intriguing way to build character- yours- and other human beings.

Always in the Art,

                          Susan Batson
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One comment on “The Only Rule in Acting

  1. voiceactions says:

    I love this Susan, especially coming from you and always so “on time.” As a teacher/coach of voice-acting with focus on voice-overs for now 21 years, people sometimes think VO is a “cheap” form of acting, they are impatient and demand to be immersed on the microphone immediately…it is totally akin to your reference to reducing things to “just learning the lines.” The varied applications I use to give voice-over its contemporary life, embracing the actor’s life, the time for improv and improv games and vocal exercises are imperative week by week, as the ease, grace and even “cutting-edge” on “mic” unfolds for the student.

    With the passing of the great Maya Angelou who talked of how “Miss Flowers, down the road” helped her heal from a severe abusive act through discovering the love of poetry (when a very young Maya was a selective mute as a result), let us remember her advice. “To savor the words with relish, let them role off the tip of your tongue;” this is not superficial, it is part of the nuance, the icing on the subtext we have dissected, often in joyfully mighty class exercises, individually and collectively!

    Just as for actors, your Blog today encourages we teachers who have the courage to prevail, trust instincts, subtly re-invent, and mentor in a safely challenging space, sublime talent who can soar beyond our wildest dreams for them.

    With Appreciation and Respect,

    Robert-Allan Arno
    The Soul of the Voice, Ltd.
    NY, NY

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