Within the question is the answer. Presence onstage or screen is determined by one’s ability to be fully in the moment. But what does this mean, to be fully in the moment, to be present? What are you doing when you are just being? It is not a passive endeavour. It is, in fact, the conscious act of listening.
Listening, really listening! Not just hearing sounds and other actors talk. But listening with all of your senses and paying attention to everything you are receiving onstage or in front of the camera.
This week, turn the sound off on the TV and see if you can “listen” to what the actors are saying without actually hearing the words. Or watch strangers in a café; what is their body language saying? And what does their behaviour and the way they interact tell you about what they mean to each other?
Finally, become aware of how your friends and family are speaking to you; listening to the tone and intonation of their voice. Does the meaning of their tone match the meaning of their words? For instance, can you hear in their response to “how are you?” that, in fact, they are not “fine.” What else can you hear in the tone of how others respond to you that is different to the meaning of the words they speak?
These simple exercises are the beginning of your ability to really listen, to really pay attention, and to be truly present.
We each have a responsibility to tune in, not only to our surroundings but to the subtle difference between observing what is going on and judging others. The point is not to find fault, blame, or ridicule in others, but rather to honestly work off “what is”.
Visit The Wellington Actors Studio at www.wellingtonactorsstudio.co.nz for more information on classes, workshops and coaching for actors.