Avoiding a Common ‘Actor Trap’

Congratulations, you got the part! The character experiences the gamut of the human condition: love, hate, pride, etc. It’s wonderful on paper, but there’s a problem: An actor is prejudiced against the experiences and emotions she is responsible for conveying through the character. We are taught to validate some experiences while invalidating others—”Women are to be seen and not heard,” “Men don’t cry.” This is just one example of an “actor trap,” a phrase I’ve coined after close to 20 years as the exclusive New York instructor of the Eric Morris System.

How do you experience shame, love, or murderous rage through the character if you reject them in your own life?  Many actors act, try to “be someone else.” The limitation here, besides being impossible, is you’re divorcing yourself from reality in some attempt to create reality. The circumstances of the play are fictional, but the actor’s job is to bring reality to them.

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