Daytona explored the Stanislavsky method of emotional recalling, which is essentially a technique where one uses their memories and experiences to directly draw on and access the emotions they felt at that time.
We started the session by finding a space where we could create our own bubble and calm out brains down to a focused and neutral state, so we couldn’t be distracted by others or by random thoughts, making it easier for us to fully engage in our chosen memories. We were then talked through the process of selecting a memory that would make us feel sadness and then visualising this memory and recalling on how we felt and how we reacted in the hope of this triggering our bodies and minds to produce this genuine emotion. I personally found it very difficult to concentrate on one thing so intensely without having the time to fully get into a zen and focused mental state and so my brain was still busy thinking of the day and sifting through potential memories rather than actually focusing on one memory that I could use. I have used a similar memory recall exercise before and I found it useful to play music that would compliment the emotion I was trying to summon, which I also found helped trigger my memories more vividly and also keep me in atmospheric and focused zone. However, when I tried the exercise today I found it so much harder to enter that place and successfully feel the emotion TRUTHFULLY. Although I was trying to feel the emotion I think I forced myself to react in a particular way rather than actually let the emotion overcome me. We then moved on to trying to recall a happy memory which as a class we all found far easier and more accessible. I think as a person it is much easier to concentrate on these emotions more instantly and without as much focus or zoning as it were. Perhaps, its because a person’s more emotional memories are stored further back in the mind and locked away as protect, whereas happier memories aren’t as much of a threat to a person’s wellbeing if they surface. I think as a workshop Daytona did a very good job of presenting the method and introducing us to the basics of how one would go about accessing the memories needed to trigger particular emotions – and the importance of having this skill as an actor, and being able to do this at speed and on demand. However, I think for a person to become disciplined and skilled in this technique, one would initially have to spend far longer zoning into the right headspace and allow themselves to fully experience the emotions in order for the exercise to work efficiently. Perhaps with more time to explore this technique method in class I may have had more success with getting the results I hoped for.
Tom explored the practitioner Uta Hagen, particularly focusing on her 9 questions. In Respect for Acting, Uta identified 9 questions an actor should ask themselves as they prepare. It’s all about being as specific as possible so the actor can create a backstory and overall well rounded and believable character both on and off stage.
1. WHO AM I?
(All the details about your character including name, age, address, relatives, likes, dislikes, hobbies, career, description of physical traits, opinions, beliefs, religion, education, origins, enemies, loved ones, sociological influences, etc.)
2. WHAT TIME IS IT?
(Century, season, year, day, minute, significance of time)
3. WHERE AM I?
(Country, city, neighbourhood, home, room, area of room)
4. WHAT SURROUNDS ME?
(Animate and inanimate objects-complete details of environment)
5. WHAT ARE THE GIVEN CIRCUMSTANCES?
(Past, present, future and all of the events)
6. WHAT IS MY RELATIONSHIP?
(Relation to total events, other characters, and to things)
7. WHAT DO I WANT?
(Character’s need. The immediate and main objective)
8. WHAT IS IN MY WAY?
(The obstacles which prevent character from getting his/her need)
9. WHAT DO I DO TO GET WHAT I WANT?
(The action: physical and verbal, also-action verbs)
Tom went round each member of the class individually, asking them to apply the questions to their own monologues, getting us to explore the answers as in depth as possible to help us create a sense of that character world. I personally found it really helpful and made me think about aspects of the character that I hadn’t even considered before, which made my character come to life rather than being 2 dimensional. For example imagining the specific details of my surroundings such as what objects are around me, is the room cluttered, is it a room that I am often in etc. I think it is so easy to simply decide you are in a ‘kitchen’ or ‘park’ and convince yourself that this is sufficient details as to the location, however from my experience this only creates the illusion of the place and fails to connect you to the circumstances of the character and their story. In a sense you as the actor can only play the character when doing this, but when you apply Uta Hagen’s technique in a detailed fashion you actually BECOME the character.
I think Tom delivered his workshop well, although it involved a lot of listening and theoretical thinking; still, I appreciate with a technique such as this it is difficult to actually put into practice with such a large group. He could only really tell us how to apply it to our own work by giving examples, with the expectation that we be able to reap the benefits practically.