Please, Love Me!
Posted on: September 12, 2011 in category: Steve's Blog
You download your sides, you read them over and you realize that of the 8 total pages, 4 are full of descriptive stage direction.
And no matter how ridiculous the stage direction, one of the actors first questions is: "Do I need to do all that in the room?"
Given that 90% of what actors do involves trying to please other people in an attempt to ensure that those people will represent them, continue to represent them, hire them or continue to hire them, actors often acquire Pleasing Disease.
Pleasing Disease is contracted when one habitually ignores one's own voice and adopts a singular focus on making everyone else love them. Actors with Pleasing Disease believe that fame and fortune will rain down from on high when they manage to find the answer to the question, "What can I do to make them love me?" Once answered and executed, the logic goes, the job will be theirs.
What follows is an attempt by such actors to systematically perform every stage direction- every look, every smile, every dropped tear- precisely as it is written on the page. Once every base is touched, that actor will feel confident that the audition has been a success.
Of course, chances are it probably hasn't. It's just the disease convincing the actor that it has.
Acting, auditions and art in general are not mathematical. They are subjective. There is no logical formula for success that is true in all cases. Any acting coach who says otherwise is full of shit.
Every casting director is different and no one can say with certainty what the right way is, but I tell new actors and veteran actors alike that when it comes to miming stage direction in an audition, don't do it for anyone else but you. If it helps you to take a drink from a glass that isn't there, do it. If raising your hands and holding an imaginary gun on the perp while you're busting him helps you feel more in control then do it.
But don't mime any action because you think they need to see it. They've read the script. Hell, they may have even written it. They don't need you to show them what's there. You're better served by making strong, personal choices, bringing you to the world of that play and not worrying solely about what you can do to make them love you. The art of acting and the film and TV business can give you a lot of things, but if you're looking for a fundamental feeling of love and acceptance, you're looking in the wrong place.
Don't let Pleasing Disease affect your work or your life.