Over the last three years I have speculated that there are probably about THIRTY identifiable myths about acting. But in fact thus far I have actually identified ELEVEN. And I have only written about SIX. These are the first myth-conceptions …
Acting has to be ‘small’ for television. Inexperienced actors are constantly told they are “… too big for television. You have to bring it back.” The reality is there is no such thing as “too big” for a screen performance. Actors can be as big as they like on the screen as long as they are truthful.
There’s a right way to deliver a line. Actors who believe this myth think that they have to work out how a line has to be said. This completely ignores the fact that the way we speak in life connects directly to the way we have just been spoken to. An actor who can’t adapt the delivery and meaning of a line to respond to the way they have just been spoken to, will always look like they are acting AND NEVER LOOK REAL.
The actors’ job is to display emotion. The most constant task an actor will be engaged in is making decisions for their character. That’s why it is called ‘ACTING’ – it’s about doing something. If the most important task was to show the character’s emotion they would be called ‘Show-ers’ not ‘Actors’. Acting is about dealing with the problems the character has to face. Acting is about doing the things the character has to do.
‘Sub-text’ is everything that is NOT said. This is an over-simplified explanation of the term, which mostly leads actors in entirely the wrong direction. The important thing about subtext for an actor is that it relates, always, to the character’s unconscious or hidden desires.
The actor must be ‘in the moment’. Actors who believe this myth constantly quest ‘living the part’ and feel disappointed if they don’t succeed at that goal. The reality is actors don’t have to live the part – they just have to look as if they are. What’s important is the audience believes that it is real, it’s not essential that the actor does. This does not mean that acting is a cynical exercise, but there needs to be a balance between the intellectual and intuitive elements.
Acting is about saying the lines and not bumping into the furniture. Many actors believe the myth that delivering lines is their primary task. In fact, LISTENING is the actor’s primary goal. The lines won’t make sense if the actor hasn’t listened to what has just been said. But, it is generally a good idea to avoid bumping into the furniture.