Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Little Meisner for a Grey Wednesday

Reviewing Sandy Meisner and his performance technique is a pleasure. One of his tenets: the foundation of acting is the reality of doing.

"Acting" here is taking all the walls away from being yourself in front of other people.

OK, it sounds obvious -- and simple. But how many people do you know who are great presenters? Here's a little more that will demonstrate the connection I'm making between professional performers and business people trying hook an audience at a conference.

Meisner says,

" . . in most professions, every practitioner uses the same tools and techniques, while the actor's chief instrument is himself. And since no two persons are alike, no universal rule is applicable to any two actors in exactly the same way." (Sanford Meisner's On Acting)

This is as true when presenting information that you've written as when it's material a playwright has concocted.

What exactly does it mean to be "yourself"? In front of people?

You either do what you're doing (eg explain -- really -- "the reality of doing") or you play AT it. Who cares what the content is? You're genuinely talking TO listeners (or talk AT them). As we all know from sitting through presentations, the second ends up being very dull.

Both are characters purpose-built -- but one is much more effective than another.

I have a nice example of Lloyd Davis in the reality of doing. He plays a great ukulele, too.

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