Acting – the roles of doubt and faith

Acting - the roles of doubt and faith_550
Actors are assailed by doubts, usually about 4 of them!
I do have high standards. I look at everything I have done and think, ‘Why wasn’t that better?’ Part of my motivation is from crippling self-doubt – I have got to prove myself wrong.
Michael Palin
Doubt about: their capacity, the merit of the play, their fellow actors and the director. We can seek to be aware of all four individually and note the effect they have on us and others.
We can take practical action especially in relation to the doubt we feel about our own capacity. Regular training with authentic teachers is a great help here as is of course the job of acting itself, in front of a live audience or camera.
We have no control over the relative merits of our fellow actors, the play or piece we are performing (unless it’s an improvised piece or we are the authors!) or the director.
We do have the power to choose or refuse work though, a choice we often ignore or surrender out of fear or…doubt!
What of faith?
I don’t possess a lot of self-confidence. I’m an actor so I simply act confident every time I hit the stage.
Arsenio Hall
My teacher, Tom Radcliffe, and his teacher, Sanford Meisner, were great encouragers in this area.
Actor’s faith has something in common with all faiths – there are things we know but cannot prove.
Many humans, and nearly all performers I have met, feel at some level, unloved or unworthy.
It takes a long time for an actor to find faith in themselves – the faith that who they really are is enough. And this encourages faith in another vital area: faith in the imaginary circumstances of the piece we are performing.
To watch Kean play Shakespeare, Coleridge said, was to watch the play illuminated as if by lightning.
We may not carry such a huge charge ourselves but as long as we are carrrying the biggest charge we are capable of, surely no more can be asked of us?
By Simon Furness
Simon Furness studied for one year at the Guildford School of Acting and Dance, after completing his academic studies at Exeter College, Oxford. He worked in London initially and primarily in theatre, appearing in European tours of The Importance of Being Earnest (New Triad), The Taming of the Shrew (Theatre Set-Up), Pygmalion (New Triad) and Antony and Cleopatra (New Triad). In 1994, he met an actor and teacher, Tom Radcliffe, who was to have a profound influence on his life. Simon joined the London Group Theatre as a student and studied for a further two years with Tom, who had by this time completed his own studies with the legendary actor and teacher, Sanford Meisner. Unlike previous training and the experience of ‘learning on the job’, Tom introduced him to a way of acting that was emotionally alive. Simon began teaching in his own right firstly in Milan where he ran his own studio and summer courses (1999-2002) and subsequently in London where in 2003, he joined the teaching staff of the Actors’ Temple, where he still works today, teaching two-year courses in acting. In keeping with the ethos of the company, Simon is a teacher who continues to act, having appeared in leading roles in recent feature films ‘Luck’ (directed by BAFTA and RTS award-winner Liviu Tipurita) and ‘The Warehouse’ (FBH Films, to be released). He also devised and directed his own short film, ‘Tiramisu’ produced by the Actors’ Temple, and appeared as Horatio in the company’s production of Hamlet.
Contact Simon via his agent Imperium Management
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