Controlled Psychosis

A very long time ago when we all lived in the forest and I was veryvery young, I went to acting school. Not just acting school, but THE acting school: The Stasberg Institute in Los Angeles. I went for less than a year before real life got too weird (I also decided that there were too many actresses out there who wake up one morning to discover that they are fifty-year-old waitresses and opportunity has never knocked). It was a hard, but rewarding experience.

(Tip: never admit that your greatest fear involves singing in front of people. You just might find yourself up on a bare, wooden stage with thirty people watching you as you sing Happy Birthday over and over again. With tears and snot running down your face. Until you want to die.)

I’ve always been fascinated by the process of acting (the method, if you will) – how someone can get inside the skin of the person that they are playing, until it is totally real. It seems almost like being able to slip into and out of a psychotic state, in a sense. For that moment, you’re someone else, you’re seeing something completely different to the reality of the stage where you are. It’s magical, and a bit scary. Good actors have power…I am reminded of one of my favourite acting moment, from The Silence of the Lambs. Anthony Hopkins, caged, passes a bundle of papers to Jodie Foster, and his finger slightly caresses hers. It’s subtle, gorgeous, and it gives me shivers every time I see it; he’s a master. It says “I could take you…but I won’t. For now.” There is such power in great acting.

The clip below is another of my favourite moments, from a much less famous actor, John Hannah. The poem is designed to make you cry, it’s over the top. His delivery is real, restrained, and it makes me cry every time. I love it. His job is to make you sob during that scene, and he delivers. It doesn’t matter that he’s acting – he’s torn and hurting while he’s doing it. Marvelous stuff.

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