Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Religious Order for Actors

Originally Posted on March 18, 2011 HERE Was eventually completed on April 1, 2011

Yes and No.

With a lot of controversy surrounding the whole thing about Tom Cruise and his ties to the Scientologists, the average audience member watches on with certain assumptions of their favorite performers in regards their respected spirituality. Actors are an uncanny fickle bunch. I should know, I fall into the same category as most actors. If someone was to inquire about my own personal view on spirituality, I'd simply give them a generic answer: "I'm Christian." Sure, I've seen and heard a more general response such as "I'm spiritual." (What the hell does THAT really mean?)

Posting about my faith and theology is for another future time. It's difficult to really separate my beliefs versus my experiences within a religious setting, and that is a challenge that the average person wrestles with in regards to spirituality. So therefore I'm gonna attempt to build a 10 foot pole to touch the topic in the near future.

I'm not really talking about that anyways.

I observed the last ten years while pursuing, training and working on various acting productions that the actor tends to create their own sort of religious order to a lesser degree than a fanatical follower when it comes to the technique of their craft of acting. I'm not talking about fundamental craft knowledge such as voice, diction, movement/dance though people will separate themselves along the various disciplines there too. (Linklater vs Fitzmaurice vs Alexander ect) I'm referring to the various schools of techniques in regards to achieving the performance state of "being in the moment."

Since my performance background began in doing stand-up comedy, I gravitated towards the improvisational based forms of acting when I began my formal acting training. I was lucky enough to learn from someone who was versed in VARIOUS schools of improv acting, so there was no hard-core loyalty insistence. Coming from San Francisco, Theatersports and Johnstone has a heavy presence in the improvisational scene. Elsewhere in L.A., N.Y. and Chicago, Second City and more Spolin based improv dominate the scene. As ridiculous as it sounds I've come across improvisors who refused to work with other improvisors not trained within their discipline. (Theatersports trained folks won't work with Improv Olympics or Spolin based Improv, and vice-versa)

On the other end of the spectrum, acting methods are split accordingly also. The average person has heard of "The Method," when it comes to acting. There just isn't ONE method per se. Almost if not all "methods" that's known is based directly and indirectly to theories on acting created by Stanislavsky. I look at the various schools and methods on acting the way I observe church and denominational splits. In a lot of ways, a new acting method created is normally the result of a split from another school of acting.

Now a new form of "Method" is taking shape. Known as "Contemporary Method," it evolves on a more eclectic approach. In addition to taking a little of Meisner and a little of Strasberg, ect, they'll add something such as "energy work, past lives," and other forms of pseudo-psychology. I would love to say that because of their eclectic nature, they have no qualms against other schools/methods, however that is normally not the case.

Why the split? Why the chasm between all the method/school/approaches to acting? All could be linked to the one common denominator: the "Guru." The acting coach/instructor/teacher ect in a lot of cases holds more power over actors than the actors should permit. Largely that is due to what belief and/or attachment the actors hold in respect to the desired results they're getting in relation to their coaching. A friend of mine who transplanted to L.A. from S.F. concluded that all her earlier acting training "sucked ass" as compared to the audition coach she currently and religiously trains with. (She also emphasize that L.A. training is far superior to S.F. training) The reason being was prior to her training w/this coach, she did not book herself in any major productions. After booking a role in a Keanu Reeves film, she's spellbound by this coach.

This is not an unusual situation. Ask any actor why they gravitate towards a particular coach or school or approach and they'll explain how much they benefited. That's all the actor wants: to be able to do the best job they can possibly do as an actor, period. If you told another actor that you booked your last major role as a result of following a coaches advice to inhale through the left nostril and exhaling through the right while delivering lines, SOMEONE will attempt that on their next audition.

Take it outside of the actor's context. If you're a single guy, and your friend who was known in the past for being incapable in meeting women suddenly shows up with multiple women on his arms, would you not inquire about the change? If you're struggling with your weight and your best friend who was overweight the majority of their life shows up lean, trim and fit, wouldn't you want to know what they did?

So Actor A and Actor B attends most of the same audition, and Actor B tends to be given the role. At other auditions Actor A notices that Actor C tends to book those roles. Actor A learns that Actors B and C are from the same acting training. Guess what the next training agenda is for Actor A. If Actor A lands a role shortly after they begin that particular training, that training becomes a new religion for Actor A until that training no longer works, and Actor A begins this cycle all over again with another form of training.

So as a student of personal development, as a former missionary, and as a working actor, I've decided to follow in the tradition of acting gurus past and present: I have created an acting training approach. What makes my training stand out is that it's open to actors and non-actors alike. All are welcomed. No one is turned away for lack of talent. Now lack of funds, different story. Payment must be made on time. Remember that once you begin your training, any positive incidents, results, or events that happened in your life was a direct result of ME and MY training!!! Because of that, anytime your family, friend, or colleague inquire about your sudden fortune of positive stuff, make sure you refer them TO ME. We (I) will grow this training to new heights. You will no longer need to goto church if you attended church. I AM your new church. I AM your new god. All good things in your life came from me and what I taught you. NOW KOWTOW!

...Happy April Fool's Day!

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