Thursday, August 25, 2011


That's Robert Pattinson above. I couldn't find adequate pictures to illustrate this post, so on a whim I decided to illustrate it with pictures of my daughter's favorite actor. She's a fan of the Twilight movies.

Regarding acting, I thought I'd talk about Harold Guskin. He wrote a book a lot of actors read called "How to Stop Acting." Guskin's famous students include Holly Berry and Kevin Klein. He seems to be good with actors who have to play roles they may not be suited for, but which were too good to turn down. That's a common occurrence, and I imagine Guskin has no trouble filling a class.

Guskin believes that traditional methods put too much stress on perfection and deep understanding.  That makes it hard for an actor to be natural and believable, and nearly impossible for him to have fun.  He says actors ought to do exploratory readings rather than thought out roles, even when they're on stage in front of an audience.

His advice for an audition:

Ignore the casting description. It'll limit you to handling the role in the same boring way that everybody else handles it. Surprise the director if it feels right. If you do what feels right you'll deliver your best performance.

Don't memorize. If it feels right, and you understand what the writer is trying to get across, you should improvise a bit to make the emotion your own.

Spend more time worrying about other characters' lines than your own. Get a feeling for the word music you're both creating. Listen to what the other guy says, and don't sneak a peek at your script while he's speaking.

Dress to feel the part, not look the part. Never audition in costume.

Come with your own agenda. Come with ideas and choices that interest you, but be prepared to be influenced by ideas that are thrown at you in the room.

Attack your fear the moment you become aware of it. If you're afraid your voice won't carry, then shout. Afraid of being quiet? Whisper the line. Afraid of moving? Make a bold move. Afraid of standing still? Stand dead still like a rock.  After you attack take a breath then go somewhere else...anywhere you're not stuck in the same place. The best way to deal with fear is to attack it!

Finally, take control of the audition. If a chair's not where you want it to be, then move it. If people don't understand why you're moving it, that's a good thing. Make the auditioners try to figure out what you're doing, because if they don't have to do that, you won't get the part.

Fascinating, huh? What's my take on this?  I like the kind of acting that's focused on voice training, the kind of thing Cicely Berry writes about. Even so, I have to admit that there's some good practical advice here.

BTW: here's what the author looks like (above).


Stephen Worth said...

That author should get all the pores in his face airbrushed out. Then he can audition for Twilight.

Steven M. said...

God, Pattenson looks like a dirty hobo.

Regarding the advice, sounds interesting.

JohnDoe123 said...

Interesting stuff, a lot of that does make sense having now heard it. Solid theory for sure.

talkingtj said...

rob pattenson stop acting a long time ago! lol!

Anonymous said...

Have to say based on the picture I do not want to punch Guskin in the face, which is much more than I can say for most people who write how to act or write screenplay books who put their pictures on the cover.