The corporate acting jobs: (the best workshop you’ll do)

I’ve had a few corporate jobs come up over the last few weeks. That’s great for a few reasons; one being that it’s been scarce on that particular front for a couple months (though filled by other acting work); two it’s with new clients which is great business wise; and three it’s the best emotional workshop you can possibly do AND you get paid for it.

I’ll talk a bit about #3 by going into some fuzzy details about the jobs.  With corporate work (Role play and Video) you are hired to show the good and bad of human interaction so that the people learning can see and practice what to do and what to avoid. What that essentially means for the actor (ie. me) is that I get to play the juicy parts of the human condition. Some times it’s the emotional journey of your favorite Shakespeare tragedy EVERY HALF HOUR

One job involved a character that was dying and the clients were training on getting information through to him. The tricky bit here was in a lot of the scenario’s my guy came in in a state of middle-of-the-road-happy but had to break down when confronted with the scary information.  This might seem a little obvious but for me as an actor I have been inclined to prep for the sad stuff and think about the rest of the scene as a chaff for that seed.  Here I was in a position to find it, or more accurately let it find me, in the scene. Now I’ve never been the cry-on-cue kind of actor but I was happily surprised to be able to pull it out of the bag very half hour for 8 hours a day for a week.  Big win.

This time I’ve been using Chubbuck (as taught by Anthony Wong so a little of a different flavour to what you might read) to get me over the line. He talks about setting up little land mines of emotion on words or gestures or concepts, in home time rehearsal and then setting them off (or letting them find you) in the scene.  I’ve been a little unsuccessful in the past doing this (at least for my own happiness) and I think that the main reason is the self judgement in the moment getting in the way of getting the action/objective. But in the immortal words of Bullwinkle Moose “This time for sure”.

Like any good magic there is a trick behind it and by trick I mean loads of tough training and constant practice, and I won’t go through it here.  If you need to know then get a hold of Anthony and do the dying exercise (or sexual chemistry or any of the amazing things he does).  The thing is it’s no different from being angry on cue; or being in love on cue; or what-have-you emotion.  The trick is focusing on yourself and the (sometimes sub-textural)  story that gets you there and making it about the dialogue between you and the person opposite you. I think that being in those 2 places at once makes it harder for the self judgement to be heard and get in the way of doing the job. Corporate jobs are great ways of training what you learn in class.

I’m in a glass case of emotion

So it’s been a big emotional couple weeks for me, both fake and RL (ironically real life stuff always happens at the same time doesn’t it?).  That’s a segue into looking after yourself emotionally.

We all know putting your hand in the fire is a bad thing. But the actors job is to metaphorically do that, and with glee and often.  Some of the reasons that actors (and all artists) are loved is that they are vicarious vehicles for emotional catharsis for the rest of us. The important actor trick here is to be very skilled at recovering from horror.  All the crying and anger and love is based on real feelings and (esp for my style of performance) very real events. After such a performance you get a couple hours of cathartic joy and relief in your body. It does (like the drugs that mimic it) come with a crash afterwards. So it is extremely important to have a good set of techniques to get you back to reality and back into yourself. Some might call this de-rolling but for me it’s just resetting. All the drinks at the pub and good reviews are poor substitutes for good de-rolling techniques. This is another thing that I’ve been thankful for – getting skilled up by Anthony. Actually he’s the only one whose taught this to me over the 15 years I’ve been going to his class. I never learnt this in acting school or any of the other classes I’ve been to which is sad.

Anyway that is some of the stuff I’ve been thinking about wrt corporate jobs. I’d love to hear some of your experiences.

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