At the Edge Of Acting

Dean Carey, Creative and Founding Director of Actors Centre Australia (ACA), ponders the ideal conditions for an actor.

Two pianists play the same collection of musical markings yet one translates mere notes whilst the other releases pure music. Two Hamlets are never the same. A remake of an original film often falters. Sequels almost inevitably suffer the same fate, as a contamination can take place fed by an obligation for louder, bigger, better.

So what is it exactly we are all looking for – actor and audiences alike - from our shared interaction? I believe we all seek the highest-grade quality experience possible. We want to be rocketed into the here and now through a powerful sense of immediacy and authenticity, in the hope of gaining insight and meaning. This occurs principally by actors plugging into the creative source with such purity and skill, that the audience simply follow suit and do the same.

Throughout my teaching life I have pursued the same essential questions:

‘What working conditions prompt the purity of the creative signal coming to the actors from the play’s source?’ Also, and sometimes more importantly, ‘What working conditions compromise its integrity, thereby degrading the signal’s strength and quality?’ When learning acting, you need a vibrant environment that actively addresses both of these questions.

Starting from what we know

My focus has always been to search for and engage everything natural about acting for the student. From this perspective a performance platform can be secured upon where an organic, creative journey can take place. The unnatural elements are inoculated through my teaching by activating each human’s natural will – for me, that will is to be heard, understood, to be shared and be received.

Human beings long for someone to say, ‘I get you, I understand.’ The person doesn’t have to agree with you, but the person communicating wants desperately to be received. Characters operate from this same emotional need and position.

Life is an art; the difference being that art onstage or film has the boring bits edited out so the span of an entire lifetime can be captured in a 120-page script. With life’s heartbeat as the foundation stone and springboard for art to exist, it is up to our individual experiences, understandings and feelings to translate this lifeblood into our art – in essence, to connect our source energy understanding to that of the characters.

By activating this same innate human mechanism of dealing with all of the incoming stimuli of our life, we can then transfer what we do naturally in life onto the stage. Once initiated it then takes over and steers our sense of authenticity from the first reading to the final curtain call.

A new worldwide performing arts community

Through my 30-year teaching career I have never lost the keenest of interest in the actor’s process and what empowers it. I have recently created an online acting program that includes a platform for a worldwide performing arts forum. Here I wish to engage with actors, directors and drama teachers right around the world.

Technology now allows us such instant access and connectivity, with particular communities sharing quality interaction 24/7. Hugh Jackman and I look forward to launching this exciting new initiative in October this year from Sydney. The New York launch is set for early next year.

For all details on our full-time program or my new online program, see the websites below.

By Dean Carey, Creative and Founding Director of Actors Centre Australia (ACA), Sydney.