Acting Tips – Creating an Action from an Emotional State of Mind

by on December 16th, 2010
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Throughout your work as an actor, you will encounter scenarios and characters that may be difficult to convey through your scope of talent. This isn’t to say that you aren’t talented, but rather you must delve deeper into yourself in order to perform a character that is realistic and not drenched in stereotypical behavior and reactions.

One of the most vital acting tips I’ve cultivated throughout a decade of working in the business is learning how to create an action from an emotional state of mind. This type of acting delves deeper into the “doing vs. being” acting technique.

As with any acting technique, you must spend time practicing this transformation of emotions into actions; however, once mastered you will be able to create a sincere character no matter what the scene calls for.

The Creation

When you’re given a scene, you must first locate the emotional word within the script. Even if the script doesn’t necessarily provide you with an exact word, you must locate the primary emotion within the scene and use this word or phrase to build your actions.

For example, the emotional state of mind of your character is spiteful. Let’s say that within the scene you are dealing with a co-worker who continues to steal your lunches or eat your favorite snacks while you’re away at your desk.

Since the emotional state of mind is “spitefulness” the actions derived from this state of mind must be aligned with the objective of the scene. Let’s say your objective is: “I must teach my co-worker a lesson for being so selfish and rude.” Thus, the actions you perform to obtain this objective may be to place a spoiled piece of meat within the sandwich or add laxatives into the yogurt he loves to steal so much.

When performing these actions, you must keep the objective in mind while incorporating the emotional state of being spiteful into your actions. Use your entire body to convey this emotional state and don’t be afraid to take chances with your movements.

As an actor, you must be able to think in terms of objectives and actions. Because of this, you’ll likely hear a director continually yell, “Don’t’ play the effect of the scene, but rather play the action.”


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