Auditions: Bypass ‘Thinking’ and Start Discovering!

We’re going to switch it up a bit, just to give you a little breather from the past couple of weeks where the focus has been on emotional change in the moment when you least expect it. You’ve had a real workout. Are you ready for a breather?

It has been intense, hasn’t it?

At any rate, it has been really great. So, just as a reminder, when the demand is there, you deliver. The demand was heavy the last couple of weeks. You had to bring it. You had to create it, and it was big time and it was on the spot, and there was not a moment to think about it. And by not “thinking,” you bypassed the usual routine of hiding in the moment and instead were creating spontaneously with amazing impact bringing humor and emotion when least expected.

So, number one, thinking doesn’t help, right?

When you don’t think, and you just have to be there and respond, things happen. Those things then create more demanding situations; not the normal “play it safe” type of situations, right?

Okay, then things can surface that you would never predict. So, as a result of doing that, you start to see that when you get an impulse, you should follow it and see where it leads you. And, if it doesn’t take you anywhere, it may open up a door to something else. It can also eliminate this need to say, “Well, here I think she would do this. There, I think, she would feel that,” which is just producing a response, which isn’t necessarily organic, or truthful, or interesting, or funny, or emotional. It’s a decision rather than a discovery.

I just wouldn’t start out by assigning emotions like anger here, sadness there. I would explore and find out what does occur for you rather than putting a label on it. Do you follow what I’m saying? It’s fine to have notes in the margins that will trigger things for you, but the less you rush to nail it down, the more surprising things can be in a way you never would have predicted. That’s what’s been happening in the work over the last two weeks. New demands to respond in the moment have brought new surprises to your work. Sometimes these changes occur so quickly that afterwards it takes a moment to let it settle and understand what just happened.

So if something started to happen and you stopped to think or question it, what occurred? The impulse went away while you were debating and the wheels came off the car.

Thinking hangs you up. Do you understand that concept? Thinking. I’m thinking about doing this. What does that mean? I’m on the fence. I’m not doing this, and I’m not doing that. I’m thinking about it. You ask somebody, “So, what did you decide about such and such?” “I don’t know, I’m thinking about it.” It’s equivalent to sleeping on it, right? I have to go unconscious before I can, actually, make up my mind about this. I’m going to sleep on it. And then when I’m unconscious, I’ll come up with something brilliant.

Discover without thinking?

Okay, so without the thinking, you’re operating more on raw talent, or instincts, or impulses. When you’re rehearsing a scene for class now, make it more about discovery and less about nailing down a result and feeling secure because you did that. Real security is when you’ve discovered new information, new feelings, and are well prepared for anything that can happen.

When the demand is there to discover, it will take you to a new level in your work. It’s like when a car falls on somebody, and you have to lift the car off of the guy, or he’ll die, the demand is so great in that moment that you perform—you lift the car. You’ve heard of this, right? Because the demand is there, you don’t stop and think, “I can’t lift a two ton car. What will I do?” You see that somebody’s life is on the line, and you lift the car. It’s crazy, right?

So when the demand is high, you perform. When the demand is low, boredom sets in, or we start to get a little comfortable, or we start to just go on automatic, and the work goes flat.

Last week you didn’t have a chance to think. You were in there. You were brilliant, seriously brilliant. So, if it’s easy, there tends to be a performance that isn’t very inspiring. I don’t think that you’re necessarily inspired or excited when it’s safe. It isn’t that it isn’t good, but is that all there is?

So, if demand for discovery is high and both people come to play, then things will happen creatively and in an exciting way that will thrill you and those who are watching. Demand improvement and be surprised.

By Lynette McNeill
Acting Coach & Director

Lynette McNeill - Acting Coach

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