Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On reading A Balancing Act

A Balancing Act is a great book for anyone- not just actors- to have. What’s really incredible about it is that the approach it presents to acting extends to one’s everyday life and in that way, becomes almost something of a self-help book.

I was incredibly excited to read it, and perhaps that was because I was interested to read something written by a professor of mine, but after beginning the book, I almost forgot entirely about the connection I had with the narrator and got so involved in the information that was being presented that I was no longer excited, but rather sort of enlivened, in a way.

The writing style is great because it begins fittingly at the beginning, allowing the reader to get involved with the subject matter as the narrator does, and in consequence, to invest almost as much emotion as the narrator. When the narrator discovers herself in need of balance and searching for a way to get there, you - the reader- find yourself also needing that balance and luckily, it is given to you in the form of this holistic approach to acting.

What I find really interesting is that everyone, no matter what their job, career, etc., finds themselves acting in every day life. By just being, and exploring the world as a human being, you use your body as your instrument and act accordingly. As an actor, you control our emotions and movements as an art, but as a human being, you must control your emotions and movements too, therefore it is just as crucial for you to figure out that sense of balance emotionally and creatively. This book allows us to explore that and it extends beyond the art of acting.

I also found solace in the section about actors as nomads. That is definitely something that could potentially weigh on an actor emotionally so it is important that they develop a center and a way to reconnect with themselves and find some sort of home within. That translates to real life again, when I have found myself living in between Maine and New York and currently sleeping on a hard wood floor in a temporary apartment! This sense of home balances a human being out and for an actor, it is imperative that the actor be at his or her best in order to perform at the healthiest possible level, presenting the most vibrant performance possible.

Separating self from character was a really important issue within this approach and one that I think many actors in the past have overlooked. I couldn’t help but think such an approach to acting would have greatly benefited actors who unfortunately seemed to be overtaken by their work- Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger, for example. It is important that you are able to separate reality from your work and for many who become so emotionally invested in it, it becomes easy to forget your truest self as a human being. Losing touch with that side of yourself becomes incredibly dangerous and thus, A Balancing Act, is something that could help you achieve that balance. In order to safely escape from the world of another character, you must be balanced, otherwise you’re walking on dangerous waters and your body cannot truly be used as an instrument for your craft if it isn’t in good working order.

I will say that this book is something that I actually intend to use. And perfect timing, considering my adventures in New York. I think it is incredibly useful for life, as well as for acting. Clearly it is a perfect way for any emotional actor connected with his or her spirit and sense of balance to explore healthy methods of achieving the highest creative ability. I think its great, and I am incredibly glad that I bought it.

Hillary Sproul,
model, actress, stylist (NYC)

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