During much of my acting career, if not all, I have been struggling with getting to the depth of intense emotions - namely grief or sorrow. It is so intimidating to see the direction "she cries" or "tears run down her cheeks" on a script! (At least, for me it is!)
A lot of this is because of personal traumas I have been through. Independence and wanting to constantly remain strong doesn't help. Healing takes time and is complex. I have all sorts of different blockages I have to work through. Then the traumas pile on one after another and the whole thing is a huge mysterious mess. (I had a bout of quite a few rough years in a row.) In everyday life, stifling these emotions becomes a survival method. It's habitual. In acting, I don't believe in using the emotional recall sense memory of Stanislavski, but follow more of the Stella Adler and Creative Actors Workshop approach to making the emotions all related to the character's world. In the year after my father passed away, my acting coach at the time Scott-Arthur Allen would tell me when I couldn't cry I just wasn't fully in the scene, wasn't fully in character, wasn't letting go. Of course that might have been true, but I knew there was another component. Because it happened to me in real life as well. Tears dry behind my eyes. Any lump in my throat is swallowed. My brain thinks of happier thoughts. It's like there is some armor around my heart I wear everyday but I haven't figured how to take it off. The blockages are literal physical blockages. These habitual blockages stifle emotions when it starts to swell too big. Day after day and year after year, I've had peaks of a few victories and many many valleys struggling with this in my acting. I recognize it as feeling intense emotions in preparation, but when it is time to perform, I feel like the whole iceberg of depth is not reached; only the tip. It is most frustrating for me, as I have a natural vulnerability and am cast as a "traumatized girl" or one that strongly shows vulnerability a lot. Honestly, I love when actors get that deep. My favorite actress is Zhang Ziyi and she has a gorgeous emotional vulnerability and depth to her. I was missing that in my acting. I performed in a scene recently and was so disappointed in myself. I did not portray that character truthfully in my opinion. So I went on a search. A search to find the link between the physical habitual stifling and the emotional depth as an actor.
My search led me to Niki Flak's book "Acting with Passion," as well as the Perdekamp Emotional Method. I am currently in private skype sessions with Sarah Victoria for P.E.M., and am already feeling the cracks of the breakthrough I've been waiting for. Can't wait to see what's in store! This is what I've been searching for!
I definitely recommend these tools for any actor struggling with the same problems I am. Therapy, journaling, and meditation is healing on a personal level, but not for for these habitual performance problems. It's time to try a new approach to the craft to produce desired results. It's time to feel some emotional depth and intensity...and let it loose!