As actors, we expel so much of our time and energy into preparing for a role. It’s an important practice that often leads to great success. However, sometimes during a performance we can focus so much on calling upon our research and objectives that we forget to stay present. This is a shame because in acting (and, heck – in life!) one of the greatest joys is to live in the moment.
Here are ways to stay present as an actor (that apply to life too):
It sounds easy. Adults have probably barked the word at you throughout your entire life. As simple an action as it is, listening is often suffocated by our intrinsic impulse to go inside our own head. If you’ve fully prepared yourself – memorized your lines, defined your character’s goals etc. – then stop thinking! You’re ready to simply look into your scene partner’s eyes and listen. The moments when an actor is actively listening to someone else speak are often the provocative ones. Focusing on someone else not only keeps you present, but also allows you to stop thinking and releases you from your own head.
2. Focus on the Space.
Aside from focusing on your scene partner, place an emphasis on every setting your character is in. This is especially helpful for soliloquies. Try really living in that space. Know what’s around you, from that looming maple tree to your right, to the glistening riverside ahead. Take a moment to see, hear and feel it all before you speak, even if it’s right before you step onto a stage or set. The absorbing will do wonders to keep you weighted in your character’s reality.
If you’re doing the previous two tips, this one should be a breeze! The fact of the matter is that every stimulus a person takes in creates a natural reaction. That’s why when you spend hours online you often walk away with a headache – Your brain is processing a ton at once! To use this human process to your benefit, you must know your character inside out. Understand what their initial reaction would be to a certain stimulus and then, let it rip!
Overall, if you have a passion for acting, sinking into another world and letting your emotions shine through should feel right. It is your responsibility to let go and truly “be” in another world. So, stay present and enjoy the ride!