Michael Beckett, renowned acting teacher of New York City's HB Studio, investigates the many mysteries of the noble art of acting. Compiled from live recorded transcripts from his invitational experimental master class, the actor's craft is studied through deep inquiry into the actor's psyche. Emotional blocks, insecurities and universal concerns of the beginner and advanced actor are observed with the intent to unravel the entanglement of mind itself. Zen stories and esoteric principles are explored as life lessons to shed light on the actor’s understanding of human nature.
Universal concerns of the actor's process are explored from a perspective that goes far beyond technique. Conversations cover such topics as the joy of being confused, working from emptiness, playing the action not the concept, turning yourself on, loving the character as yourself, and dealing with self-consciousness and performance jitters. For example:
Student: "What do you mean the actor has to have an empty mind?"
Teacher: "There are two ways to listen. And in acting, one of the ways is listening to the person and to the inner conversation one is having in relation to the expectation or condition one is setting up for that person. Another way of listening is coming to it with nothing, with no expectation or condition. It's a very different kind of listening – the way you listen to a great piece of music, or the way you listen to the wind in the trees. The actor wants to listen in relation to a condition that he sets up, an expectation."
Teacher: Know yourself. Make mistakes. Run risks. Any place where you're challenged, even threatened--it's good. And if you get pissed off and upset, that's a good sign. it means something's getting to you. Watch--usually when you're being "gotten to," there's a lot of negativity that starts surfacing because you start to defend your position finding reasons to stay protected. And it's very easy to find justifications. But when you don't go that way--when you surrender to all of it and don't defend yourself, you can learn something about yourself. Why am I pissed off? Why am I angry? it's got nothing to do with what's going on out there, it must have something to do with me.
About Michael Beckett
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Published November 25, 2012
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