Tips on Tuesday

This post is a compliments of a blog by Brian Timoney, a fabulous method acting teacher out of the UK. Please be sure to visit his site, if this post interests you!

The simple answer is yes, they do. 

Every one of us has what psychologists call conditioning. Conditioning is the effect that our culture, environment, the people in our lives and our life experiences have on us. 

No two people are alike and the way we perceive the world is different. For example, if two people see a car crash, each will experience it in a different way. Why? Well, one may seen the accident from a slightly different angle, one may be physically fitter than the other, which affects their sensorial perception of the incident, one may have experienced a car crash themselves, one may have lost a friend in a car crash and so on. All these different elements mean that each individual will perceive things differently.

So, how does all this tie into your acting, and what is your parents’ role in shaping your acting ability? 

Well, our parents pass on their fundamental beliefs, many of which you will have consciously or unconsciously adopted. 

This affects your acting ability.

 Let me give you an example. Say someone has to play a scene where they cry. If the actor has grown up in an environment where parents have said that he or she shouldn’t cry, or no one in the family ever cried, it will be harder for that actor to suddenly cry on cue for acting purposes.

Now, this is not to say that actors cannot change this, because they can. They just need to be aware of their conditioning and how it is affecting their acting. Actors can then use particular exercises to address the issue. 

Here is another example of conditioning. When Sharon Stone walks into a room do you think casting directors have any trouble seeing her in the sexy diva-type role? No, of course not. Why? 

Her natural conditioning supports this type of character. However, if she were to play Mother Theresa then she would need to address her natural conditioning and change it for the audition. 

You just have to be aware of your conditioning and any limitations it has placed on your acting ability. Then you can start to address them. In some cases your conditioning will be extremely helpful and will help you play a role better…something you can thank your parents for.

Best wishes,

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