You Cannot Act If You Are Tense! by Hollywood Actors Studio founder Eric Stone

Context and premise: we all can easily conceive that the craft of acting is a game rooted in make-believe. The practice of a game is not serious in essence but like any other game, it has specific rules. The paradox is that one plays a game “for real”, but the game is not real in essence. At the core, the desires to act and speak both belong to the context of game which is a form of communication which also establishes relatedness.

It is also a kind of celebration of the fun and joy of being alive. Acting is a game. It is rooted in make believe. The practice of a game is not serious but like any other game, it has rules. The paradox is that one plays a game “for real”, but the game isn’t real in essence. The desire to act belongs to the context of game which is a form of  communication. It is also a kind of celebration of the fun and joy of being alive. Acting, viewed from this perspective, acts as a pretext to explore, learn, entertain and communicate. This understanding gives meaning to our practice and it elevates and illuminates the spirit.

The premise that acting is a game rooted in make believe allows us the freedom to explore its creative possibilities. The ability to make a fool of oneself becomes a valuable talent, ally and a source of creative freedom. Pride and self-importance dooms the creative activity and ruins the fun as well as the game. The instrument of the actor, the body, mind, imagination, and so on, need to be relaxed and free of tension and self-importance to function properly.

Tension and self-consciousness breeds attachments to positional points of view on life, people and especially oneself. A tense actor is self-conscious, righteous, worried, insecure, cerebral, uptight, often depressed or sad, unimaginative…to name only  a few.

Relaxation or rather the need to work in a relaxed manner is the most important responsibility of the actor. Relaxation of the body, mind and emotions opens new dimensions and offers considerable creative advantages. Genuine creativity resides in higher planes of consciousness. Tension can be related to and thought of as a state of mind, a holding on to old patterns of thought and behavior and a clinging to certain painful emotions for lack of better understanding. Tension resides and expresses itself in the body on a physical plane. The actor is a physical organism first. It breathes, moves, sees, touches, smells,…etc. Tension paralyses spontaneous physical activity and robs energy. The aim of practice is to learn how to let go of the grip that the mind has on the body. We view relaxation as a gradual surrender to that higher plane of consciousness and creativity. The aim of training is also the giving up of self-importance for richer, freer and broader horizons.

Working in a relaxed way is eighty per cent of good acting because the direct impact of a relaxed instrument is a natural return to our ability to child-like make believe. Authenticity of emotion and reactions in a given or imaginary circumstance is rooted in relaxation. It is much harder to teach a tense actor to relax than it is to communicate to him or her the technical demands of a particular scene. Lesser skilled actors are easier to work with than skilled performers who carry a lot of tension and therefore a lot of self-importance and ego who are unwilling to let go and trust the director and the process.

Working in a relaxed way will give you a sense of ease and will help make your acting seamless, effortless and a delight to watch. We offer twenty+ different techniques for relaxation which represent a body of tools to be used daily. Some require little time and others are deeper and more time consuming. We are in the process of compiling a manual strictly focused on relaxation techniques.

If you need coaching or know someone who could benefit from honing these skills or you wish to comment, feel free to contact me directly at (310) 205-9219 or go to my contact page by clicking here!

About Actors_Studio_Hollywood

Eric Stone also known as artist Philippe Benichou first studied privately in New York with Herbert Berghof, Uta Hagen, Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, William Hickey, Tony Allen, Austin Pendleton & Bob Mc Andrew from the Wynn Handman Studio. Eric is well versed in most major acting techniques and ideas of the 20th Century including the Meisner and Russian actor and director Michael Checkhov Techniques. Michael Checkov was famous playwright Anton Checkov's cousin. Eric Stone was made an Honorary member of the famed New York Actors Studio in 1981 and was accepted as a student in Uta Hagen's highly acclaimed scene study class that same year. In addition, Mr. Stone was privileged to work with Judith Unland in New York. Ms. Unland had been a private student of Michael Checkhov. "Michael Checkhov's breakthrough work in freeing the actor has greatly influenced me and still continues to amaze me." Eric Stone Eric Stone first began teaching in 1983 and has contributed to the growth and success of many actors and performers including some well known stars in the US and abroad. As his acting, directorial and coaching skills began to represent a potent body of distinctions, Eric realized it was time to make his discoveries and love of acting more public. He founded the Eric Stone Studio in 1989 in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara and began touring with weekend workshops around the country. An ongoing program was designed via classes, privates, intensive workshops and seminars. His sheer passion for artistic expression and his relentless pursuit of freeing the actor led Eric to establish a permanent actor's studio. A safe, clean, non-gaming, healthy, creative and empowering "arena" for people to hone, discover and challenge their spirits to more desirable heights of experience. This approach is focused entirely on training the individual artist not delivering a general system to a group or mass. It is the strength, success and competitive edge of this training. By aiming straight at the individual, it becomes easier to understand the actor's specific needs, talents and possible problem areas.
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