I HAVEN’T GOT A CLUE – Simon Furness

In class today, confronted with a pair of beginners, I was struck by this question: Who are we minus our ideas? Come to think of it, who am I?
Before we float off untethered into the realms of philosophy, it’s worth asking myself how it feels to be weighed down with a lot of ideas about the script, scene, moment, character, etc. Well, ‘weighed down’ I suppose. I therefore feel fretful, anxious, worried whether or not I am fulfilling the expectations of the director, fellow actor, audience, etc.
Plays are supposed to be fun, aren’t they? That’s why they are called plays. Perhaps the fact that acting can sometimes feel heavy and joyless might be related in direct proportion to all those ideas and expectations I choose to pick up. After all, who chose them?
In answer to the question ‘Who am I?’, perhaps I can only choose to answer with another question, ‘Who are YOU?’. In practical terms, I can only know you by putting my attention, as much of it as is not taken up with doubt and fear, on you. The script and other given circumstances supply me with the excuse to spend time with you. They give me a reason for being here. Which I can then ignore in favour of putting my attention back on you. Or on what I am doing.
‘Transfer the point of concentration to some object outside of yourself – another person, a puzzle, a broken plate that you are gluing.’ (Sanford Meisner)

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