One scientific study has now found that actors shut down parts of their brain in order to transform into their characters. This is incredible - and shows the power of the imagination (a power I’m pretty convinced we barely are aware of).
One of the concepts which has come up again and again in training has been “returning.” And I’ve found that it’s the most powerful concepts and applies to everything from meditation to the spiritual life to exercise routines to… almost all human activities. But it is an essential concept in acting.
Essentially it’s this: whenever you get disconnected in a scene, reconnect. And when it keeps happening in a scene, you just reconnect again. And again. And again. And, as you keep doing it, you keep getting better at it.
There are various things that can help you reconnect efficiently: Sensory awareness and putting your focus on your physical senses (and away from your thoughts); thinking of your need in the scene and how that shows up physically in your body; reminding yourself of what your character/you care about in the scene and then placing that need entirely in your scene partner.
But the underlying idea is this: no actor is every 'fully connected’ for an entire scene, much less an entire play (that can happen sometimes, but it’s a minor miracle when it does).
Rather, being a good actor is precisely this skill: learning how to reconnect when you’ve become disconnected. Returning. Always returning.
Not getting in your head about what a screw-up you are, or why didn’t you do your homework on the scene better, or are your teachers judging you, or how you wish the scene was going, or your favorite part in the scene three lines ahead, but just returning. Again. And again. And again.
Returning until your brain and your mind start to give up on their distracting tactics a little bit and you come back to the present with force and power and freedom.
Now, there are lots of ways to prepare for this work. Warming up in the morning helps quiet the mind and helps you be present. Knowing the scene extremely well helps you have confidence in your understanding of what the ‘event’ of the scene it.
But the basic skill remains: returning. Always returning to the present moment. Always beginning again.
Tonight we start rehearsing again (Sundays are dark) and from here on out, we’re running entire Acts and the entire show! It’s exciting to see the show start to come together, the character start to be stitched together, and all of us having more freedom and play in working through the scenes.Read More
Headed to rehearsal with Storm Theatre, for "Ah, Wilderness" at the Sheen Center opening Jan 25th! Excited to see what magic we can make for the audience.
It's such an exciting opportunity to play Richard - making the most of it!
Tix can be grabbed here: https://www.sheencenter.org/shows/wilderness/2019-01-25/
I’m performing stand up comedy on November 30th at 7pm in Harlem. This is, incidentally, the first time I’m performing public stand up. So. I’m expecting to fall on my face. Hard. But that’s the point of it all, eh?
Looking forward to it - and thanks to Christian Goodie for putting the night together!
Last Monday I shot a short film exercise with a Columbia directing student, An Chu - enjoy!
Peter will be teaching physical theater and acting fundamentals to highschool students enrolled in the Acting Summer Intensive at Ave Maria University in Summer 2019.
He’s excited to get back to teaching for a wee bit, share some of training and development he’s made over the past year, and inspire another generation of artists and actors!
The camp runs June 16-28 in Ave Maria, Florida.
Last fall, Columbia made a much-needed video explaining a bit about our training program up here. In it, you can see my class - the class of 2020 - working with our various teachers: James Calleri, Susan Cameron, and others.
It is an incredible privilege to have this time to train, work on our art with other passionate artists, and develop my abilities before they are unleashed on the world.
Excited to be working with Noam Shapiro and his team on Measure for Measure this month, along with readings of The Importance of Being Earnest and Ah, Wilderness! It's gratifying to be involved in so many good projects as they gear up for full productions!