ACTING, IMPROVISING & HUMAN WELL-BEING
The most convincing and effective techniques, disciplines, concepts and principles that skilled actors engage with when improvising and acting on stage and film, are in fact also LIFE SKILLS.
This is the first of a series of blogs that describe the correlations and how learning about ACTING and IMPROV, one can greatly increase one’s chances of joy and success in life.
“Growth as an actor and growth as a human being are synonymous.” Stella Adler
1. IMAGINATION & CREATIVITY – How do we create the world we live in? How do we effect and impact the environment around us by the choices we make? Do we have a choice?
“You can live quite some time without food.
You can live less time without water.
You can’t live very long at all without air.
Without imagination, you are already dead.” George Ivanovich Gurdjieff
In extreme situations, for example, solitary confinement and long term sense deprivation, prisoners have kept themselves alive with their imagination and visualised memories. Memory and imagination run on the same neural circuits. So, how we choose to see things and what we choose to hold in the forefront of our memory, shapes and creates the world around us.
Just like on stage. The actor is what s/he chooses, selects or is directed to imagine and remember. It is a skill, when practised, greatly enhances one’s possibilities for survival and success in real life.
The actor learns to create and control the state of being they are in, by choice and focus. Sad, happy, angry, afraid, etc.? In real life, we think we have no choice in this matter.
It is a very interesting fact that a human cannot be both depressed and angry at the same time. Depression rapidly transforms to something more creative, if the depressed or oppressed person expresses their anger about the situation they find themselves in. The anger is then no longer turned against the SELF, but directed outwards. The actor learns to take control. In this was we can take control in real life.
Fear and anger are also confusing opposites. If we realise that fear can be turned into anger, then our response turns fight/flight, instead of freeze. We are abled, instead of disabled. This might be a more useful response in real life?
Many humans are fearful of showing anger, especially women, but also many men. We learn that we are supposed to be a ‘nice’ human being, but lack of self-expression can turn to self-harm and depression. Self-expression and depression are also opposites. The actor empowers the SELF by learning that we have a choice as to what state we choose to be in.
“The greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” Steve Biko
Practising any ART FORM, be it painting, writing, playing an instrument, improvising or acting, is a form of SELF-EXPRESSION.
However, it can be argued that learning to ACT is the most all encompassing creative human art form, because it develops the art of self-expression, in many different ways, which dramatically includes all other forms. Actors also learn to develop their voice, body-language, imagination, focus, all six senses, concentration, empathic responses, listening abilities, vocabulary, communication skills… and much more. We call this the ACTORS INSTRUMENT.
Thus the actor creates the world s/he lives in, like the magician juggles with all the tools in his/her hands, through the power of choice and self-direction.