How to stop acting like you are ‘Acting.’
It can be a terrible feeling to be on auditions or at work and think, “Holy moly, there’s so much acting going on”, or “I’m not doing enough”, or “Reign it in!” These thoughts can be detrimental when trying to get on the floor. Sometimes, it’s just that something doesn’t feel right. There are many reasons this could be. However, the feeling of “acting” rather than being present in the moment is largely due to three factors: preparation, attention, and nerves.
Preparation is everything, ladies and gentlemen. Preparation is key to success. You can trust and rely on your work the more preparation you do. It is more common for me to get a callback when I feel confident that I have done all the necessary work to prepare for auditions. Yes, there have been times when I rolled up to auditions feeling a bit shaky and unprepared. But it is usually because the role was right for me. These are rare occasions (literally, once in 11 years!) Maximizing your preparation is the best and most reliable way to go.
Acting is akin to being an athlete. How you prepare for your game is just as important. Your preparation will be erratic, unfinished and indecisive. You’ll feel in the room like you’re’pretending_ or doing lots of acting. Casting directors and producers can tell within seconds if an actor is not properly prepared.
They are anxious and uncertain, and when they have the chance to make bold choices, they choose to stay safe. This is where the key lies: getting to the scene’s heart. It is important to get down to the scene’s roots and find the truth within the text. Don’t you know where to begin? Don’t you know where to start? Check out this article about scene analysis. Learning lines. Objectives. Then, practice it all in our online scene group.
Declan Donnellan states in his seminal book on acting, The Actor & the Target:
“Without a target, an actor cannot do absolutely nothing, for the actor is the source all his life.”
He refers to where your attention is placed and what you focus on while you are immersed in the scene. If you feel like you’re ‘acting’, you’re thinking about yourself and what you think of at the moment. How can you get back to the present moment? Take your attention completely off yourself and place it on the other person.
There will always be nerves. A Gallup polling 2018 poll found that 41% feared public speaking. Even for the most experienced professionals, performing in front of people can be nerve-wracking. Performers are always faced with a lot of pressure and anxiety. You might avoid acting out if you’re anxious or stressed. What can you do to help?
First, prepare as I have already mentioned, and then trust that you have done all the work necessary to succeed. You will be exhausted when you get to the audition or the job. Worrying about how much preparation you did is not going to help. Now is the time to believe in yourself. Be confident in your preparation, and believe that you can accomplish what you set out to do. Rely on yourself. You should believe this and feel relaxed.