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Tag Archives: Tilda Swinton
Back in September when I was in New York, I asked the students (as I always do when I’m assessing a class) what they felt were areas in their work they still were developing. The answers, although different for each student, also were very similar.
Like everything in acting, the things we most need to develop are the areas that have their own corresponding equivalent in our own personal lives. Since acting is, as Academy Award-winner, Tilda Swinton, says, “all autobiography,” then what we’re constantly going to be pulling from and coming up against and trying to explore more of is . . . well . . . our life.
And where we have withholds, fears, tensions, resistance, judgments, secrets, denials and avoidance of things in our own life, we’re going to come up against them in our acting. There’s just no other way. But they’re there for a reason.
It’s OK to have these things. In fact it’s necessary, because the art of self-exploration (and ultimate self-realization) allows us to uncover areas of our lives that hold us back, keep us locked in fear and anxiety, and prevent us from being really, totally free.
To not explore them and uncover them keeps us locked in their prisons, where we never actually experience their benefit and what they have to teach us. But to have awareness of what and where they are and gently unravel them, then gives us access to latent potential and possibility that wouldn’t be there without them.
So for sure, they’re a curse (in a way), until they become the blessing.
And I don’t think we ever fully overcome them. Academy Award-nominee, Joaquin Phoenix, recently said in an interview that he’s been in the business for 30 years and he still feels fear when approaching the work.
So it never ends. But having the awareness that you feel fear and then pushing through it to discover what’s on the other side is what brings you to a place of pure creativity. You come face-to-face with yourself and what’s possible for you.
You realize that all the things in your own life are actually there working for you if you but allow them to.
You want to access your potential? You want to be a great artist? You want to tap into your creative genius? You want to book a job?
It’s simple. Get out of your head.
Again and again and again.
In the New York Times bestselling book, Imagine, a Johns Hopkins University Neuroscientist, Charles Limb, is interviewed for the research he’s been doing with jazz musicians and the activity of their brains when they improv.
In what I refer to in acting as a “let go,” or a “surrender to the moment,” Mr. Limb also found in musicians that there’s an explosion of energy in the medial prefrontal cortex – an area in the front of the brain associated with self-expression.
Limb refers to this area as the “center of autobiography” – which suggests that when a jazz musician improvs, he or she is actually playing notes that reflect his or her own personal style.
As actors, when you do what you do in the moment, you’re imprinting your style, your personality, your instinct, your self onto the form or structure through which you are creating. In acting, this would be a scene. In jazz, it would be the musical line.
Academy Award-winning actress, Tilda Swinton, says acting is, “All her,” and it’s, “All autobiography.”
Do you see a pattern here?
During the brain research, as the musicians began to riff in the moment, there was also a dramatic shift in the brain’s nearby circuit – known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) – which is most closely related to impulse control.
It’s your inner censor that keeps you from acting out on impulses. “I can’t do that!” “That would look stupid!”
But what was amazing about the study was that before a single note was played in the improv, each pianist exhibited a deactivation of the DLPFC.
That’s right. The brain silenced that circuit. Your censor can shut up!
But it takes practice. It involves lots and lots of training to develop that muscle that can overpower the inner critic.
When people come to audit a class, they often ask me why I don’t let actors memorize.
I discovered something years ago when I first started training artists that memorization actually inhibited the accessing of their intuitive, creative impulses.
And now, again, the science proves this.
In the brain study, when jazz musicians played a memorized tune – guess what? The DLPFC remained active. In other words, the censor was alive and kicking, keeping the musicians (and actors) from being freely, wildly, dangerously expressed.
That’s not to say you won’t memorize pieces. That’s not to say musicians won’t play memorized tunes. You will, but from a new vantage point. One without a censor.
The implications of these studies shows that we can access our creative potential by working a methodology that scientifically and artistically creates a new muscle to supplant the inner critic.
Get out of your head. Get into your body. Lose your mind. Regain your senses.
So, when it comes to creating, say goodbye to your DLPFC! Let go in the moment and turn that censor off.