And the Private Moment Exercise

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“Acting and living, and everything else, for that matter, is compassion.
What Lee and Stella [Adler] and Mira [Rostova] and Herbert [Berghof] were all espousing was compassion, an amplification of humanity, which is all that will save a scene or a play or a relationship or the world.
The world is so inordinately tiny not geographically, but spiritually. We shuffle along, happy to do the least amount of work, the least amount of exploration, perhaps because we feel we don’t deserve all the riches that surround us.
Movies and plays and art and music and interaction with other people who sought compassion and understanding saved me. They will save us all. What is at the heart of.The Method is compassion, empathy.
Go into your private moments and private spaces and realise all that you’ve felt and all that has been given to you and taken away.
We will never murder; we might never give birth; we were not Napoleon. But within us are similar emotions, drives, feelings that can place us within an adjoining heart of. aanmurderer; of Napoleon. Of anyone.
What the teachers were telling us, what Lee was telling his students, was to empathise with your own history and to merge with the histories of others.
Art means nothing if it does not connect with an audience, even it might be an audience of one. Honesty with our emotions will find a connection with the honesty of someone else with their own feelings.
Otherwise, it is performing, which is not to be confused with acting. Call it Method, call it acting, call it art, it is the painful, glorious compassion that joins us all, shared in one anspace at one time.”

Marlon Brando

“Download my top 5 Method Acting Sense Memory Foundation Exercises Free. The Acting Training Exercises Developed by Strasberg and inspired by Stanislavsky. Use them on your journey to Mastering the Acting Craft”

An Actor’s compassion in the willingness to embrace all walks of life, all types of character and the deep motivation to truly understand the hearts of humanity reaches beyond the boundaries of imagination.

Embracing life as an institution where acceptance and compassion are essential for inspiration, insight and growth reveal the yet many hidden treasures in living.

Honesty is vital. Only when we genuinely connect with our feelings and emotions can we connect with others. Actors are willing to stay open and let themselves be affected by strange circumstances which they can only access via internal pathways. Thus, making the business of “others” personal sometimes to the point of obsession.

Private Moments in Method Acting

One of our group’s go-to focus exercises for when one struggles with committing their whole being to the role is “Private Moments.”

Method Acting

Creating a Private Moment grounds you in the present, providing freedom of movement and thought by eliminating the pressures of performing. As a result of carrying out the private moment exercise, you’re able to unselfconsciously accomplish all that’s required physically and emotionally for the role. Some people are already unselfconscious, committed, and engaged in-the-moment, so this exercise may not be critical for their development. But we live in times of distraction. We are experts at being distracted and self-conscious.

We go into private moments to regain concentration lost due to becoming self-conscious due to the audience and their judgement on our performances. We use this exercise to minimise the ability the audience has to influence the actor.

We aim at removing the audience’s power over an actor’s performance. With the Private Moment exercise, the actor can shed self-consciousness with ease.

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Exercise Example

Chose an activity that you do at home, something you usually do with no one watching, for example, singing aloud and embarrassingly off-key to your favourite song on Spotify. You might be embarrassed to do this in public since you might not be the best singer.

Practice the activity at home and then bring it to class. There, you can sensorially reconnect to the experience you had at home and perform this activity, singing loud and off-key, just as you would in private. You usually are self-conscious about your singing. But, with this exercise, you have trained your mind on the activity, and put aside the judgmental eyes of those watching.

The concentration that it takes to have a private moment in public will empower you to bring a higher level of attention to your character since you become less afraid to do something embarrassing, ridiculous or uncomfortable. You become less self-conscious.

Stanislavsky on Public Solitude

“Public solitude”, the actor’s ability to appear “private in public”, is a concept that Stanislavski wrote about, and for which Strasberg developed the exercise above based on Stanislavski’s reflections. The chosen activity should appear private to the public.

When an actor can create privacy, they forget about the audience. They don’t go out of their performance to join the public and wonder about their judgement, the very contrary happens: the audience comes to join the actor and finds itself submerged in the performance, captivated.

This exercise is of no value to actors who don’t need it because they find it easy to sustain full concentration throughout their performance.

There’s a difference between “private” and “personal” although some things a person may do are personal, the person may not stop doing them when someone comes into the room, e.g., writing on a journal, and may at one time or another share the personal thing with someone. Whereas the private activity is not to be shared and the actor would stop doing if someone walked into the room.

Private moments can be as simple as dancing a certain way or singing with abandonment, picking your nose.

You will be practising at home, make sure you become aware of the sensory aspects of the room, and the personal behaviour associated with the private activity.

When performing it in front of your audience you sensorially create the same room, concentrating on recreating it on the stage.

Ref: The Method Acting Exercises Handbook – Written by Lola Cohen. Exercise Originally devised by Lee Strasberg. Inspired by Konstantin Stanislavski

Sylvia Love Johnson is a Vivid Dreamer, Inspirational Writer, 7th art lover, Filmmaker, Writer, Award-winning film Producer, Award-winning Entrepreneur. Actor, Acting Coach, Method Acting Tutor.

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