“The Warner Loughlin Technique” Quotes

I recently read “The Warner Loughlin Technique” by Warner Loughlin. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like them, buy the book here.

“Master the character first, and then put the character in the circumstances of the scene.” (19)

“That is how you make a strong choice. Give it an emotional reason to exist while making sure that it is both appropriate to the character and the story.” (57)

“Unless the screenplay lays out for you the events that happened in the character’s life, you will want to invent them. You can’t truly know someone unless you know their ‘life story,’ so to speak.” (57)

“The darker the material and characters are, the darker your choices can be… Let the life events you choose be dictated by the material.” (63)

“Choose excellence, vow to practice it consistently, and soon excellence becomes habit.” (88)

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” -Frank Outlaw (91)

“To oversimplify: The Base Human Emotion is an emotion caused by an event that leads the character to perceive the world in a certain way. When he perceives the world in a certain way, he then reacts to the world in a certain way.” (97)

“The interesting thing about Base Human Emotions in characters and in real life relationships is that people will often choose a partner who soothes their Base Human Emotion.” (98)

“Here is where a child will make a choice. He will choose a behavior in order to cope with the situation and his emotions. Will he choose to stay away from those awful bullies and bury his head in the books so that at least the teacher will like him? Or will he choose to be the class cut-up so the other kids will accept him? Choosing a behavior determines a path. One of these chosen paths could produce a world-class physicist. The other might produce a stand-up comic.” (100)

“A character’s behavior, particularly patterns of behavior, are the best indicators of what the Base Human Emotion might be.” (103)

“When your imagination is in full gear, you are drawing from an infinite well, as it were. When we limit ourselves to our own singular experiences, we draw from a finite and limited well.” (105)

“Create events and scenarios, placing yourself – as the character – n this moment and experiencing this event in the present time. Avoid creating the event as if it’s a character memory. Instead, you, as the character, are living in this moment, experiencing the event as it unfolds and all the subsequent emotions that arise from it. You’re not watching this movie – you’re in it.” (106)

“To begin creating the character’s world, start out small and expand. I find it helpful to start out imagining an object that the child is holding in his/her hand. Then my imagination will justify why “I” am holding this object at this particular time.” (110)

“Create for your character fresh, new and imaginative details that are not exact copies of the details from your personal life experiences.” (118)

“Don’t command yourself to “feel” something. Just live in the Emotion with Detail, moment to moment. It’s only then that you will feel. Don’t try to chase the emotion. Anything you chase flies away.” (126)

“We never want to “play at the scene.” Instead, we are able to create nuance and texture in a character by building the life, experiencing the life and then dropping this fully formed life into the circumstances of the scene. Just like real life works.” (193)

“For auditions, read the scene as if you have all the time in the world and are not in fact panicking. Read it from an objective viewpoint, avoiding at all costs thinking about how you’re going to play it. I know that’s hard, but you can do it. Determine what kind of scene this is and what is central to making it work. Is it a relationship scene? A break-up scene? A fight scene? A deep revelation? What’s the relationship that lies at the core of this scene? Is it with a lover? Brother/sister? Parent? Friend? Take time to do some quick Hows of Behavior to determine specific character traits, paying attention to patterns of behavior that emerge. From those patterns, quickly pick a Base Human Emotion, and stick with it. Then build a loose and quick Core KNowledge. Create several brief Emotion with Detail events that explore the central elements you’ve identified.” (199)

“For auditions, ask yourself, “Why did casting choose this scene? To show what aspect for the character? What books this job?” Then choose those aspects of the character to focus your limited time on.” (200)

“Find the emotional differences at the top of the scene versus the end of the scene.” (201)

“Remember that when you are acting, you must be thinking character thoughts rather than personal thoughts during the scene.” (201)

“Take care not to memorize your lines before developing your character.” (201)

“When you memorize lines in a rote fashion, without emotional fuel behind them, prior to character exploration, you are forcing your brain to store those lines in the rote memory section of the brain. This is a different section of the brain than the section that stores images, concepts, and memories to which you are emotionally connected.” (201)

“When you anticipate an emotion, chances are you’ll rarely feel it in the moment.” (204)

“In a Prior Instant, you are literally switching off a personal thought, and switching on a character thought. You can’t think two things at the same time. The Prior Instant is comprised of the precise thoughts and exact words the character is thinking in this moment, as if you’ve spoken the thoughts out loud, yet they are silent. I call this exact character thought, in the character’s own words, a “hard” inner monologue.
If you know exactly what your character is thinking, your mind and body will follow. A Prior Instant gets you out of the gate, so to speak, in exactly the way you need. Just make sure you are not anticipating what is about to happen in the scene; the actor knows what is about to take place, but the character does not.” (205)

“Don’t strive for the perfect take. Just be willing to go on the journey of the character.” (208)

“Think a character thought about anything, and you’ll be back in the scene. You cannot be in two places at one time. So choose to be in the character’s mind rather than in your own head beating yourself up. Seeking to have character-related thoughts at all times during your scene is hugely important. If you think it, camera reads it.” (210)

“All of your research and character work should be done before you set foot on the lot or location… having the character deeply inside you allows you to mold, shape and change on a dime according to what your director says… There’s nothing you can’t do if you have a firm grasp of your character.” (212)

“There is no right choice. Simply give the object an emotional reason to exist. This will help ground you in the moment. For example, the ruge is not just a ruge; it’s the rug your beloved dog used to sleep on at the foot of your bed. Or perhaps it was handed down to you when your sister’s room was redecorated; yours wasn’t, and you resent it. When you give objects an emotional reason to exist, they become clearer in your mind. You have made them specific.” (227)

“Walk into that audition room to give something – never to get something.” (227)

“Think of auditions as collaborative meetings.” (227)

“When it comes to homework on your character, it is most important to know how he or she responds to the other characters in the scene and to look for patterns. Is there a type of person that seems to tweak your character’s Base Human Emotion repeatedly? Or perhaps a certain behavior on the part of another character is always a trigger.” (229)

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“On The Technique Of Acting” Quotes

I recently read “On The Technique Of Acting: The First Complete Edition of Chekhov’s classic To the Actor” by Michael Chekhov. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. As always, if you like the quotes, please buy the book here.
Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 6.07.16 PM“When criticized that his notion of Kobe was not what the playwright intended, Chekhov replied that he went beyond the playwright and the play to find Kobe’s true character.” (xii)
“The idea that an actor can “go beyond the playwright or the play” is the first key to understanding the Chekhov Technique and how it differed from Stanislavsky’s early teachings.” (xii)
“Chekhov’s performance was based not on recapturing the experience but on a feverish anticipation of the event.” (xiii)
“Chekhov’s Technique dealt primarily with images, especially visceral ones, that short-circuited complicated and secondary mental processes. Instead of telling the actor “to relax,” Chekhov asked him “to walk [or sit or stand] with a Feeling of Ease.”” (xvii)
“We soon find that we have only to consciously illuminate two or three light bulbs before a chain reaction begins and several more light up without our ever having to give them special attention. When a sufficient number of these light bulbs are shining brightly, we find that inspiration strikes with much greater frequency than before.” (xxxvii)
“This longing for knowledge makes the real artist brave. He never adheres to the first image that appears to him, because he knows that this is not necessarily the richest and more correct. He sacrifices one images for another more intense and expressive, and he does this repeatedly until new and unknown visions strike him with their revealing spell.” (6)
“When one hears an artist say, “I have built my art upon my convictions.” Would it not be better for an artist to say that he has built his convictions upon his art? But this is only true of the artist who is really gifted. Haven’t we noticed that the less talented the person is, the earlier he forms his “convictions” and the longer he tenaciously clings to them?” (6)
“The real beauty of our art, if based on the activity of the Creative Individuality, is constant improvisation.” (19)
“People often want to experience something other than that which they need to experience.” (21)
“The audience became for Vakhtangov the transmitter of public opinion. He listened to it and kept pace with his time, but was never subservient to it.” (22)
“Do the Psychological Gesture and the acting alternately, until it becomes evident to you that behind each internal state or movement in acting is hidden a simple and expressive Psychological Gesture that is the essence of the acting.” (65)
“The nonactor reads the play absolutely objectively. The events, happenings, and characters in the play do not stir his own inner life. He understands the plot and follows it as an observer, and outsider. The actor reads the play subjectively. He reads through the play and by doing so he inevitably enjoys his own reaction to the happenings of the play, his own Will, Feelings, and Images. The play and the plot are only a pretext for him to display, to experience the richness of his own talent, his own desire to act. The nonactor reads the liens while the actor reads between the lines, sees beyond the characters and events of the play.” (71)
“Choose two simple contrasting psychological moments. For instance, one of them can be the word “yes,” pronounced with wrath and power. The other can be the word “no,” spoken softly and full of pleading. Pronounce this “yes,” and then continue to act without any previously thought-out theme, knowing only that your final aim will be the pleading “no.” Allow your soul to make a free and unbroken Transition from one pole to the other.” (73)
“All the lines, all the situations in the play are silent for the actor until he finds himself behind them, not as a reader with good artistic taste, but as a n actor whose responsible task is to translate the author’s language into the actor’s.” (77)
“As soon as the actor becomes aware that the Psychological Gesture is an incessant movement and never a static position, he will realize that its activity is inclined to grow and its Qualities to become stronger and more expressive.” (81)
“Each character on the stage has one main desire, and one characteristic manner of fulfilling this desire. Whatever variations the character may show during the play in pursuing his main desire, he nevertheless always remains the same character. We know that the desire of the character is his Will (“what”), and his manner of fulfilling it is its Quality (“how”). Since the Psychological Gesture is composted of the Will, permeated with the Qualities, it can easily embrace and express the complete psychology of the character.” (90)
“The actor should never worry about his talent, but rather about his lack of technique, his lack of training, and his lack of understanding of the creative process. The talent will flourish immediately of itself as soon as the actor chisels away all the extraneous matter that hides his abilities – even from himself.” (155)
“Chekhov would then being to ask questions; the first was always “Is this predominantly a ‘Thinking’ character, a “feeling’ character, or a ‘Will’ character?'” (160)
“When acting, it is quite valuable to know whether you are working with a character who has strong Will forces and relatively little intellectual power or one who has a strong Feeling life but little ability to take hold of his Will forces.” (160)
“Chekhov would further inquire, “What kind of Thinking does your character have?” Thinking can be cold and hard, like a little black rubber ball, or quick and brilliant, traveling in flashes. It can be fuzzy, light, slow and ponderous, sharp, jagged, penetrating – the types and qualities of Thinking are almost unlimited.” (161)
“The same holds true for Feelings. “What kind of Feeling does your character possess?” The character can have a Feeling life that is intense and passionate, lukewarm and lugubrious, or basically bitter like a lemon. The character can have predominantly heavy Feelings that drag it down, or light sun-filled Feelings that easily radiate to all other characters. The variety is endless.” (161)
“Mischa was also very insistent about our knowing at every moment what our characters wanted. He often said, “Art is not like life. Art cannot be like life, because in life most people do not know what they want. But the actor must always know what the character wants. The character must always have clear-cut Objectives!”” (161)
He said, “For the actor, it is not enough ti simply have an Objective – nor even to feel a tepid desire for something. You must visualize the Objective as constantly being fulfilled. For example, if your Objective is ‘I want to escape from this room,’ then you must see yourself escaping, perhaps in many different ways – through the door, through the window, etc. It is the vision of the Objective being fulfilled that creates the impulse for a strong desire. This is what will bring your role to life.”” (162)
“Chekhov consistently encouraged me to discover the differences between the character’s personality and my own. “it is the differences which the actor must portray, that is what makes the performance artistic and interesting,” he said. “The similarities will be there by themselves!”” (162)
“Don’t try to mentally justify it. Just do it.” (163)
Read the script silently as many times as possible
Describe the plot of the script to a friend
“Baptize” the emotional sections
Make a list of your character’s physical activities
Make friends with the set
Make friends with the camera
Make friends with the audience
“Read the script silently as many times as possible.
Resist the temptation to say your lines aloud for as long as you can. Do not try to analyze or even consciously think about the script or the part. This allows your creative unconscious the greatest possible freedom in bringing forth a truly original interpretation of the role.” (167)
“Baptize” the emotional sections.
This means to find successive sections in your script and name each one according ot its principal emotion, feeling, or sensations, so that from the emotional point of view each section will differ form the next ones.” (167)
Make a list of your character’s physical activities.
Include those that are given in the script and those that you may wish to invent for this part.” (168)
“Chekhov believed that it was important for actors to be aware of how much they really need and love their audiences. He said that when actors are not conscious of this love, or are ashamed of it, they are in danger of becoming jaded and patronizing toward the audience.” (170)
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“The Art of Acting” Quotes

I recently finished “The Art of Acting” by Stella Adler. This book focused a little too much on classical theatrical acting, which I’m not that interested in but there were still some quotes I found useful.

stella“The thing that makes you say, “I want to do something” – that is the beginning of talent.” (12)

“No actor is a success unless he feels inside himself, as long as he lives, that he is good. If you don’t feel you’re good, no money can give it to you! No applause can give it to you! No symbol of success can give it to you!” (12)

“When you stand on stage you must have a sense that you are addressing the whole world, and that what you say is so important the whole world must listen.” (22)

“My husband used to say that in our time ten years had been added to life. But not at the end. We didn’t add the ten years to maturity. We added them to adolescence. We’re still “kids” when we’re 28.” (23)

“Take an idea, paraphrase it, write it out in your own words, then come back here, stand on the stage and give it to us.” (25)

“Truth in art is truth in circumstances, and the first circumstances, the circumstances that governs everything is, Where am I?” (35)

“You will only fail to learn if you do not learn from failing. Falling flat on your face will uplift you!” (38)

“One primary reason many actors feel uncomfortable on stage is that they don’t work from the circumstances. They start with the words. The words can tell you about the place, but it’s the place that will tell you how to act.” (80)

“Knowing what it’s like on the stage, you would never trade that to be in the audience.” (82)

“Whatever you reconstruct from your emotional memory is no substitute for putting your imagination to work.” (83)

“If you leave the house without putting your clothes on, you have every reason to be nervous. Going on stage without having built the circumstances is the same thing. You’re naked. You have no protection.” (84)

“When we study a script, we’re trying to find what actions it requires of us.” (86)

“If two people simply agree on the stage, then we’re finished. There’s no play and nothing more to say. The modern theatre is based on our ability to consider two points of view.” (97)

“You think your beauty will help you. It won’t help your art. It’ll help you get ahead, but your art comes from somewhere else. Either what we do matters or it doesn’t.” (100)

“You can’t go on the stage unless you’re filled with things that give you life all day long.” (102)

“There are no small stories, only the actor makes them small.” (116)

“Stanislavski said, “throw out 99 percent and you still have 100 per cent too much for the theatre.” (117)

“Once you feel your talent working, there is a good side and a bad side. The good side is the pleasure of knowing your talent. The bad side is that this knowledge will be the big experience of your lives and you’ll never be satisfied with anything else.” (124)

“In life, as on the stage, it’s not who I am but who I do that’s the measure of my worth and the secret of my success.” (131)

“If you don’t justify your actions, you’ll be caught acting.” (135)

“Actions are doable, and if you do them correctly, they prompt the feelings.” (139)

“Every action consists of many little actions. If your overall action is to leave for a holiday, the action of the scene will be to pack a suitcase.” (145)

“Sarcasm is a symptom of weakness, not strength. It’s shirking from confrontation and the very opposite of defiance.” (155)

“An actor is one who uncovers and incorporates the secrets of words.” (161)

“If you can find three interrelated ideas in a text you have a play that’s in control.” (167)

“Several factors in particular play a crucial role in shaping character. One is profession. The other is class. Let’s start with profession. Americans admit to professions. They don’t admit to classes.” (169)

“Even a daffodil does something, has a profession. It gives off scent, professionally.” (170)

“The technique for playing a profession is simple: Build up a believable past in that profession, and, through imagined biographical data, to know how you came to be in it and who you are in it.” (170)

“The more you’re playing to the audience, trying to impress them, the less successful you are.” (173)

“The more you do it for the audience, the less they want it. It’s what made Willy Loman a lousy salesman. He was too eager.” (174)

“Before you live convincingly in the present on the stage, you must have a fully realized past. It’s the first thing an actor should do when preparing a character.” (175)

“Acting is hard because it requires not just the study of books… but the constant study of human behavior.” (180)

“It’s not what a person says but your reaction to what he says that creates your attitude toward the person. Without this attitude you don’t exist on stage.” (181)

“When we put on the costumes of another time we’re not just “dressing up.” We not playing “make believe.” We’re assuming another way of thinking. We’re donning an inheritance, intellectual and spiritual.” (190)

“A man’s clothes represent his culture the way a soldier’s uniform displays his rank.” (191)

“Most of us are caught in this fruitless cycle of work, success, money. The artist has a way out. He’s compensated by his joy in his work. But he’s excluded from the middle-class.” (248)

“You will begin to act when you can forget your technique – when it is so securely inside you that you need not call upon it consciously. By opening up, you allow it to happen to you. “ (261)

“When you most succeed, you do so by seeming not to act at all.”

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