In a previous article, I introduced the concept of method acting, where the actor assumes to be the character. He takes on not only the behavior of the character, but also the mental frame – the assumed internal dialogue this character might have.
This is known to come at the risk of becoming the character and losing touch with your ‘real’ personality. Now, it is considered a risk because it is an undesired effect. For the actor, playing the part is a paid job and the character is designed by a writer and director. But what if you would method act a role that you feel you are bound to be? Because is that not what any form of self-development is about, to become the real you?
Step 1: Defining the role
Suppose this would indeed work, how would you define that role? Would it be someone very successful in business or perhaps a savior of the world? Would you be more confident or someone who’s perceived better looking or even both? Be specific. For example, if it you would be the happiest person in the world, describe which things add up to that happiness.
Step 2: imaging the character
Alright, let’s get into the method acting now. First, imagine the character you defined as the offered role from a producer that you are going to consider. This requires some imagination, but why not play along, just for fun.
Step 3: becoming the character
Once you can imagine being an actor considering a role, you do then do what an actor would do: you try it out. As a start, you picture the image of the character. Imagine how it would behave, look and sound. Once that is clear, step into the skin and imagine you ARE this character. You are not playing it, you ARE it, including the internal dialogue.
See yourself walking in that skin and feel how you imagine it would feel to be like that person. Imagine how it would feel – which is different from thinking – to be perceived like that character and to perceive those perceptions like that character.
Using the experience for your benefit
With this particular role, you are likely to feel some nervous excitement. Why? Because you’d already be more like it if it wasn’t for this funny feeling. But that is possibly not all to it. There might also be a feeling of being an imposter and perhaps also of not being able or worthy of being like this.
This could mean three things:
1. It might be fear of changing to who you are – the responses it generally creates
2. There might be some trauma that requires resolution before you can feel safe to change
3. The imagined role might not be authentic but a compensation for things you prefer not to face
Working with the discomfort
In all cases, it might be useful to adopt another exercise actors use, which is a simple practice to expose yourself to something uncomfortable and keep your cool. This can be eye contact in silence, but another is the chicken test also used for honorary guards.
The more you can be comfortable with discomfort, the more truthful your feelings and conscious thoughts will become. You will know if either the role needs some adjustments or it requires some practice from your side.
Either way, play around with the excitement of assuming this role. Perhaps try it out in places where nobody knows you and see what happens. And try out all sort of roles, from those close to your real you to the complete opposite. Have fun, on stage and in life.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”
P.s. how real is the most authentic role you derive? Read about it in part 4.