Reading Passage from Acting Techniques For Everyday Life by Jane Marla Robbins

“THERE ARE TIMES when Speaking the Truth can be a very powerful weapon…We’re trained to be polite, which often means to lie. We do this so people will like us. So people will hire us. So for starters, we’re not trained to Speak the Truth.

The first step in learning to Speak the Truth is to learn to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to yourself. About yourself. About your life. About how you feel. Without shame…In Part One, in the chapter on your Emotional Preparation, I describe ways to discover how you feel. After you know the truth of how you feel, the trick is only to say it to the right person at the right time and place.”

“PEOPLE TEND to be moved by hearing the truth, and even to remember exactly when they heard it, whether it’s someone saying “I love you” to them for the first time, or someone speaking the truth in a movie or a play…Here is a story I love about Tom Hanks, winner of Academy Award for his brilliant performance in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. He was asked what comedy and drama have in common and he answered, ‘”Ultimately it all comes down to telling the truth.”’

Then there’s Rob Steiger’s performance in The Pawnbroker, for which he more than deserves his Academy Award nomination. I know of many people who will never forget Rob Steiger’s face and sobbing as he lies on the sidewalk at the climax of the movie. He’s lost his shop and his future, and he simply despairs. His face seems a reflection of all the pain and loss anyone could experience as a human being.

Steiger was, in fact, imagining the possible death of his own child, and was not only feeling, but also expressing what would be, for him, the truth of such a horror. It even feels as though he is expressing the universal truth fo such a horror. And at that moment, he achieves a naked vulnerability and total honesty that most actors only dream of realizing — which is why so many people I know will never forget it.” ~ Acting Techniques For Everyday Life, Jane Marla Robbins

What does this mean to me? Another life lesson learned from this beautiful art called Acting..or as I like to call it “Living Truthfully in an Imaginative Circumstances.”

Well, let me start off by saying what Jane said in the first few sentences is incredibly eye-opening and 100% true. I mean Yes. The truth is a very powerful weapon. And Yes. We have been trained to lie. Not by our parents but by society and social norms. We are trained to be polite to spare peoples feelings; so people will like us; so people will hire us. So from the very beginning, we are taught and encouraged to not Speak the Truth, and we often wear a mask or persona to hide or mask what we are really feeling inside. But here is the thing, not only do we lie to the world but, we also lie to ourselves. We all do it. It’s ok. It’s not your fault. The good news is that it’s not too late to start Speaking the Truth. And Jane said, how to start fixing that, I think that part is pretty self-explanatory.

But how does Speaking the Truth translate into acting? Well, let me ask you a question…Why do we love movies, film, & tv? I mean, yes we love them for the obvious reasons like they are fun and entertaining. But we also relate to them as people and human beings. Despite how incredibly unique each of us is we all have emotions. And they are messy, and they are illogical, but they are beautiful. Rob Steiger’s performance is a great example. In that scene, he honestly and authentically is feeling and experiencing the pain and loss we see he is feeling. He is not faking. He is not just acting. He is living.

For me, in Rob’s performance what was eye-opening was how he was able to truly get to the place of pure loss and pain. As Rob, he wasn’t breaking down because of his character losing his shop. Rob was able to authentically recreate that amount of pain through his imagination. To Rob, he was living as though he had just lost his own son. Jane said it so beautifully, “And in that moment, he achieves a naked vulnerability and total honesty.”

You might be asking yourself, why was Rob thinking of losing his son? Well, that is how Rob was able to relate to the pain of the character, who had just lost everything, his whole life’s work was gone. Everything he worked for no more. Rob, knowing about himself, knew that his son was his everything, so what would happen if his son was gone…well he beautifully shows that to us in his performance. It was a way for Rob to relate to the character and create a truthful response which was captured by millions of people around the world.