I WANT it. I NEED it!
Which one are you truly willing to fight for? The Want or the Need?
I Want that red Corvette that just passed me going 95.
I Need air because my air tank has just run out and I’m 60 feet below the surface.
Which one of these 2 scenarios will illicit the greatest commitment, the greatest effort, to getting satisfied? Unless you’re crazy, or have a death wish, I wouldn’t hesitate to say Scenario # 2.
So, given that you are actually living (for the moment) through Scenario 2, what else might you be thinking about? Where to go to lunch on Sunday…When can you find time to mow the grass…Did you remember to pay your credit card bill on time…Or, how about none of these? How about…Can I make it to the surface in time, because I NEED AIR!!!
Do you really think your attention would be focused on anything other than getting AIR?! Do you think you would spend even one part of a second wondering if you looked good in your bathing suit? All of your thoughts and actions would be trained upon one and only one outcome…GET AIR NOW!!!
Now, that’s a NEED…a little extreme, maybe, but I’m making a point. And that point is…when you have a Need that is life and death, or one that just feels that way, do you think you’re going to spend any time thinking about yourself…any time being SELF-CONSCIOUS? I doubt it, seriously. All of your attention is going to be FOCUSED on getting your NEED SATISFIED.
So what the H— does this have to do with acting? Oops, I mean Being…alive in the life of the scene? Given that when your attention is focused on yourself…when you are being Self Conscious, you’re only thinking about yourself…duh! And when you are thinking about yourself, you are NOT interacting with the other character(s) in the scene. Which means you are in the scene with yourself…paying attention to yourself, judging yourself, trying to make the lines work…never really in the Moment, which occurs exactly midway between you and the other character(s) you’re in the scene with. If you are not meeting the other character(s) halfway, you are not in the moment, not in the present, which is where Surprises occur, that most interesting of phenomenons. Instead, you are trying to make the scene work…the way you had planned for it to work, which has absolutely NOTHING to do with what is really happening NOW! And it is so tempting to make a plan for how you, the actor, sees that the scene should go. Like a wary circus performer working with a net. Only the true artists work without a net. Which do you choose to be?
So, the bottom line is, Focus of Attention determines whether an actor will Act or Be in the work. The preferable state, of course, is to Be…that’s where Surprises are born. And what determines Focus of Attention is what’s important to the actor, to the character. Is it a Want or a Need? Is it a red corvette…or is it the air you breathe?
Next week: I’VE CHOSEN A NEED. NOW WHAT?