Not sure if Clint Eastwood is the man who came up with the phrase ‘Analysis Paralysis’, but it’s
worth a read of this article to understand why I say, to over analyze a script may not help you much in the end, other than look very clever, but still not get into the role.
My training with the Impulse Theatre, really pushed the boat out on this ‘sacred cow’ of acting – analysing a script. I don’t. I now have a very simple exercise where I answer certain questions that centre around the facts of the script and then react to my fellow actor. It’s incredibly simple and incredibly effective. This works for singers as much as for actors.
I’m constantly saying to my students – keep it simple. Sometimes, I fear as a performer, that keeping things simple equates to being boring or not engaging enough. Simplicity is one of the hardest things to find sometimes for performers, as we want to be big and really connect, but having a ‘jazz hands’ moment of bigness doesn’t necessarily help me to connect with anyone, other than possibly my own ego or my hands! Not really what I find directors are looking for.
I find analysis, after the fact, is great, as it feeds my intellect, which demands a lot of attention, so I often will feed it with that understanding once I’ve started a run, rather than before. My experience has led to new discoveries because I’m not bound too much by ‘greatly prepared’ analysis of a song or play or whatever. I just let the words speak for themselves through me, rather than have the whole thing planned out.
The other problem with having it all planned out before, is it doesn’t allow me to live in the moment, as often happens in life, things go wrong or very right, if I just stick to what I’ve made sure will happen, then I miss the gift of what is happening now or seeing what I may need to do to make adjustments. This approach to my work I’ve found it risky, exciting and frightening because I just don’t know what will happen next, but who needs a roller coaster when I can just get up on stage night after night and ride the unknown of that evening’s performance, like it’s the first time for everything.
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I improvise my way through every night, I do what the director(s) asks of me, but I don’t go out there over thinking it. I just trust/know I will do what I need to do when I need to do it and I’ll get the lines as near perfect as possible. I’m not there to make it harder by ‘winging’ it with my lines, queues or staging for my director(s) or actor(s).
This to me is the wonderful achievement that Sanford Meisner talks a lot about of living truthfully in imaginary of circumstances.
If you’d like to read more on this, check out page 77, at the bottom of this excerpt from a book on acting.
I believe there are many roads to Rome, so I believe that my way is not the way for all people, so what do you do to help you find that truthfulness in your work? Comments welcome below: