Creating Powerful, Real Emotion in Make-Believe Circumstances: An Actor’s Guide

Many actors get scared, distracted, or frustrated by the desire to create powerful, real, TRUTHFUL EMOTION  in make-believe CIRCUMSTANCES.  Stanislavsky said, “Don’t worry about the flower, just water the roots.”  He spoke of Relaxation, Mind, Will & Emotionrelax the body, occupy the mind, motivate the will; and “release” the EMOTIONAL LIFE.  Emotion is elusive and fickle. Stanislavsky said, “Disaster has struck many an actor who has tried to force an emotion through his system.  Emotion is not subject to command.  Emotion must be coaxed out of hiding, not directly accosted.  If we reach for it, it will run away.  But if we relax and concentrate on something else, something that magnetizes our mind and will, it may come along with us.”  Actors who are afraid of technique, nervous that somehow it will rob them of “their magic” are losing out and leaving that magic to chance.  Just like a natural athlete or dancer or musician, technique only supports and intensifies your talent.  Technique helps you consistently access your personal, original, ‘like-no-other’ talent, even when you are blocked or stuck, or just challenged by material.


Sometimes a fierce “Objective” or “Intention” will stimulate feeling (imagination), sometimes a powerful “Imaginary Circumstance” will start emotions flowing (imagination flowing); sometimes a Vivid Image (imagination) will arouse sleeping emotions.   Often, simply choosing an exciting, internal “Action” will bring feeling alive (“I want to terrify him”).  A “Personal Object” (your mother’s necklace, your grandfather’s watch, etc.) can animate your emotional life just by being on set or in your pocket.  Your interaction with the other actors will stimulate feelingbut only if you are open, relaxed, listening, watching, focusing on everything but yourself and making yourself feel things!  Develop and explore these Intentions, Circumstances, Images, Memories and Actionsin rehearsing your material for auditionsand on the job.

The tried and true technique of “Emotional Memory” and it’s counterpart“Sense Memory”ask you to recall specifically, meditativelyin great detailonly the physical circumstance in which your real emotional experience occurred.  Do not focus on producing the emotions of that memory or eventfocus on everything around it.  Then emotion in your present moment will have fertile ground in which to grow and emerge.  Technique helps you water your roots.  Your flower will bloom with your magic.

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Adam Lazarre-White Adam Lazarre-White grew up in NYC, graduated from Harvard University with Honors, started at QB for the “Crimson” and played in the Harvard Jazz Band. He is known for roles on Scandal, Heroes, Ocean’s 13, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, The Temptations, Living Single, The Parkers, and starring on The Young & The Restless. Adam’s writing and directing have become equal pursuit in recent years; and he has owned his acting school in Hollywood, ALW Acting Studios since 2000. For info on Adam's classes, acting, writing & directing visit his website at

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