When we’re not really Engaged, we tend to Illustrate our ideas about the scene. We know what the writer is trying to say about the character, or the relationship, and we find some obvious way to portray it. Either with a line reading, or gesture, or a piece of business of some kind.

It works okay, but it isn’t really a pleasure.

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Once, I asked a young actor if he thought he could be a professional athlete. He was silent for a moment. Then his eyes narrowed and he spoke in a serious tone. “If I really set my mind to it,” he said, “if I really committed, I think I could still do it.” How would you start, I asked. “I’d get up tomorrow at five in the morning and work out twelve hours a day.”

Was he working this hard as an actor?

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I like the term, “Suggestibility.” It sounds a bit like “Vulnerability,” and reminds me of hypnosis. It makes me think of dreaming while I’m awake and taking actions.

Everyone’s suggestible. You had a guest for dinner last night, remember? And she ate too many of those olive appetizers you set out. She loved them and ate nine or ten.

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Honest Animation

When an actor is genuinely engaged, her facial expressions and gestures come from her inner experience. I call this Honest Animation. It’s not imposed from the outside. It’s not just the actor’s natural performance mode. The expressions seem to spin from the inner agitation. The actor genuinely feels the desire and frustration of the character’s predicament and her gestures and facial expressions pop off of that Engagement.

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Additional Resources

Need a vocal coach for singing? Speaking, accent reduction or dialects? Need a good headshot photographer?

Here’s are some of the best:

I do not receive kick-backs from any of these professionals. I recommend them because they get dramatic results.

– Robert McCaskill

Kimberly Stern – Singing Teacher / Vocal Coach

I’ve been sending her actors for years.

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