Saturday, October 30, 2010


Lately I've become obsessed with the whole act of how people communicate to each other. As an actor, our job is to tell the story to the audience through our body, words, emotions, actions, and point of view. Sometimes we're really good at it, sometimes we just plain suck. It's not just what we communicate, but how we do and what we intend and accidentally do at the same time.
We get in our own way. Actors don't trust our audiences. We try so hard to show them what they should be hearing and feeling. By doing this, the only thing they feel is "My God, this is bad acting". Because of the training I'm involved in now, I break down communicating and responding to its simplest form. The easiest way to do this is to think about how you communicate to your closest friends and family members. What's the difference between a happy couple and a couple that fights all the time? The ability to understand what the other person is trying to accomplish at any given moment. I see couples fight on campus and it always comes down to two things: either they just can't understand what the other person is trying to communicate to them and they get frustrated or they are receiving the communication and aren't having anything to do with it. That's all anger is. A level of emotion that erupts because you have a feeling inside you that has lost. Anger is a losing product. Once anger is introduced to a situation, no communication will be received from that moment on. We resist listening when someone gets angry and blocking them out. Watch a show or movie, is the actor just yelling at the other one? Boring. Are they trying to get something and using every tactic possible to get the other person to understand? If so, good job.
On the flip side, watch a happy couple. Actions given and received with hardly any effort. It's because the communication is understandable, accepting, and specific. Even if it's not specific, the receiver gets the general idea and knows what to do with it. That's why inside jokes and bits between people work so well. It brings up a comfortableness that tells the other person, hey remember those feelings when......
Holding hands. Just looking in someone's eyes. A hug. Laying down with someone and just cuddling. Million of messages are sent every second when two people understand each other and accept what is given. That's what we want as actors. Instead of working so hard, we should just be able to be neutral vessels that respond honestly and actively at every given second.
Why do people become best friends? The communication between them is at a level where everything is flowing between them and it's accepted unconditionally. As friends, if the communication is not understood, they have the bond that allows them to communicate to the other that their communication is fuzzy and by communicating like adults, it can be resolved.
What are fake friends? People held together by false pretenses will fight because the other person does not genuinely communicate well or are resistant to the other's communication. How many people fight at a bar. Why??? Because the alcohol has inhibited their ability to communicate and think rational. That's all it is. I see people who I know I would hate going out with because every night is going to end in a fight. You know those people! Why? Think about it. They get selfish. Want everything their way. Hate everything that other people do..... in other words.... lose all ability to communicate.
Why is someone a great artist? They have found a way to communicate whatever they are trying to do in a way that the masses understand. In a specific way. In an unusual way. But all of them are able to communicate and thats what makes them so popular. Know those artists who say "no one understands my art!!!" Yeah, because you haven't found the right way to tell me yet. It's still inside. It isn't able to get out.
In studio, we are finding ways to powerfully communicate in simple ways like breath, blinking, a turn of the head, a tension in the wrist, walking tempo, a pitch in the voice, or a certain body posture. Of course those are wonderful things to know about the body, but sometimes communication can come in beautiful mediums that speak volumes like a text that says "hi". A postcard from my mom that says "I hope you're doing better". A hand on your back when you put your head down in disgust. A hug. A shake. A kiss. Stroking someone's hair with the intention of "I'm here for you and everything is going to be fine". A smile. A smirk. Eye contact from across the room that has enough subtext to write a novel. These all work because the giver is in full command of what they are trying to communicate and the receiver has full availability to receive those actions.
So does that make sense? It doesn't? Well I've communicated myself perfectly. You must just suck as a listener!

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