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ImagePerfection is a very common trap for any Artist.  I believe that we, as Artists, are born into this world with a clearer sense of perfection from the ‘other side’, and spend our lives trying to re-create that perfection here on earth.  But this plane is imperfect by its very design (except in nature, of course).

Case in point: I had the great privilege of seeing my dear friend, the masterful Mark Nelson, star in the off-Broadway production of “My Name is Asher Lev”, this past week.  There was a young actor, Ari Brand, who did something so revolutionary, so simple and so real . . . that it quite literally took my breath away.  At the start, he walked to the lip of the stage to address the audience.  I’ve seen many actors do this before, but I never saw anyone do what he did. He didn’t speak.  He stood there and looked at us for the longest time, with his heart opened, daring us to open our hearts.  In the presence of this beautifully opened heart, our hearts naturally desired to be open.  From that moment on, he had us. 

Why do we not try this in an audition situation?  Instead, we want to be perfect and adored… and as a result… get stuck in our heads. We are there whenever we future-project or wallow in the past.  It is not a very pleasant place to be. 

However, when we are in our hearts, we are in the present moment. It may feel happy or sad (or everything in the feeling spectrum) – but always alive and yummy.  The breath is the pathway to the heart.

Think about it. If we ever could create the “perfect” character, by its very definition, he or she wouldn’t be human! Humanity is imperfect and messy and flawed, and thankfully that’s what makes most of us so loveable.  Allow yourself to be imperfect in your work.  Factor into your work the truth that not everyone likes everyone else.  Do you really believe that People Magazine does a survey around the world to come up with its “25 Most Beautiful People” issue?  Some people will adore you, and some will be confused by you.  But if you are lucky, you will have at least revealed something of what it is to be like you.  And that beautiful sense of who you are is not centered in your head, but in your heart.

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The brilliant and respected casting director/director/coach Risa Bramon Garcia came to my class last week and blogged about it. Although I can’t reprint her blog (wouldn’t be right…) – I can direct you to her link at Risa’s Blog about me . Thank you, Risa! By the way, all her blogs are brilliant, so keep reading.

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Self Protection

I was recently pointed in the direction of a wonderful resource for actors called “Hollywood Happy Hour” by my lovely friend, world-class casting director Marci Liroff . While there, I saw the following question by a generous actor, Devai Pearce, who has so kindly given me permission to print our exchange. I have edited out a few extraneous paragraphs. This is the fourth or fifth time I’m been asked how to deal with this issue. I always get this question from actors who aren’t studying with me. Perhaps they might want to reconsider…..
Devai wrote:
Hi comrades,
I am working on an intense scene that involves sadness ( serious grief ) and anger, and some times after I do the scene, I end up with a migraine headache, due to the intensity of the emotion. In feeling this scene fully, a headache is often the result. Any thoughts on this? How to remedy it? I tried various forms of meditation afterward to no avail– well, it did help me cope with the pain, changing my attitude toward it, but ultimately the pain triggered by the scene sometimes remains, and even gets stronger. Any thoughts? Anyone lift weights to counter the aftermath of an emotionally rigorous scene?
I welcome your thoughts.
Thanks,
Devai

I responded:
Dear Devai,
I understand your question. In fact, I suffered a similar headache trying to figure out how to respond to your question. I have two very simple, yet profound suggestions for you to consider. In order to clear whatever emotions that the circumstances of the character or the material bring up on:
a )the physical plane – make sure that you make a ritual of putting on and taking off the characters clothing (especially their shoes). NEVER wear the same clothing that your character wears. Also washing your hands and drinking some water afterwords proves to be very helpful.
b )the Spiritual plane – Say a prayer, affirmation, whatever you like to call it before entering the emotional state. Remember, we as actors are entering a form of trance or self-hypnosis. If you set the intention prior, along the lines of “Spirit, I am about to enter into some dark and painful territory. I ask that you protect me as I use my body, mind and senses to embark on this journey in order to heal myself and anyone who may witness my work. Please protect me and return me to radiant health and well being upon completion of______. Allow only that which is for my highest good to remain.” Or just surround yourself with White Light before working.
I have found both of these techniques to be very helpful for my students and myself.

On a personal note, I find that pain usually comes from resistance and holding back. I urge you to really let fly with whatever comes up IN THE SCENE – so there is nothing residual at the end.

Please feel free to visit my website at www.jeffreymarcus.com.
Best,
Jeffrey Marcus

Two days later, I got this….
Thank you all! I rehearsed the scene today (as a mother of a recently deceased son) sans headache! Woo hoo! I will re-read all of your fine suggestions too, just to see if there’s something I missed! You guys are the best!!!

Told you so….

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