In this essay I am going to look at the truthfulness in my practice and whether I feel that my performance of Harley (Henry) in Love, Love, Love was truthful. I will explore the terms ‘truthful’ and ‘believable’ and the problems that arise when trying to define these terms. I will focus on my exploration of gender, emotion and movement in both rehearsals and the final performance to analyse the truth and believability in the final piece. I will be using (SOURCES) Truthfulness is a difficult concept to define and is debated a lot in actor training theories and literature. How can something that is pretend be truthful? Meisner stated that an actor needed to “live truthfully under imaginary circumstances” (Silverberg, Larry. 1994.) and this became the main goal for his technique. He wanted his students to react truthfully to the situations that they were in, even though they were imaginary situations. This would, hopefully, produce a truthful performance, one that both the actor and the audience would recognise as truthful to human behaviour. However, how can you know if something is truthful? If everyone reacts to situations in different ways then how can your performance be truthful to everyone? Mark Westbrook says that there is a difference between the ‘truth’ and ‘pretending’ in acting and that “pretending always looks like pretending.” (Westbrook, Mark. Unknown). He makes reference to Meisner’s technique, but says that it is much more simple than that “Truthful acting is made up, not of a string of faked emotional states… but from…moments of psycho-physical actives…they bring the actor to life because by ‘doing’ the actives…what you are doing is truthful.” In my opinion truthfulness is whether you, as the actor, believe what you are saying and doing and your audience believe that you are that character, and that you are acting in the way that your character would. Similarly the concept of ‘Believing’ is difficult to define, as for the audience to actually ‘believe’ you are the character would make them insane. “Are actors trying to make people believe that what they’re doing is true? Well, yes and no.” (Ohikuare, Judith. 2014.) Ohikuare makes the valid point that “with lying, only the person who is lying understands what’s going on….acting is a form of pretense that’s done with more realistic behavior, and a form of lying that everyone is in on.” The audience knows that what is unfolding before them is not real, in the sense that the circumstances are imaginary; they do, however, believe it in a sense, because the behaviour within those imaginary circumstances is realistic and therefore believable. In my own practice I decided that I wanted to take a character that was written as male and play him as a female. I wanted this portrayal to seem natural without changing the script, and truthful. I wanted any audience members who didn’t know that it was written as male, to believe that it was written as female. We as a society have ideas about how women are supposed to talk and behave, and about how those who do not conform to such ideas are seen as ‘different’ or ‘strange.’ We decided on the play Love, Love, Love (Bartlett,Mike, 2010) as these characters talk in a “lad-ish” way (talking about women’s physical attributes in a derogatory way, calling each other names such as ‘queer’, etc). I thought about Judith Butler’s idea of ‘performing gender’ when playing Harley as I didn’t want to conform to ‘gender norms’ about how women act. Butler states that “Gender… is a phenomenon that is being produced all the time” (Butler,J, 2012) and this is a statement that I wholeheartedly agree with…………………………..I also wanted to look at the emotions within the scene: whether I thought they felt truthful; whether they created the effect that we wanted to have on the audience; and whether the audience thought that they were truthful. I listened to a podcast on emotion by Invisibilia to try and broaden my understanding of emotions, why we have them, and how we deal with them. It was an interesting debate to listen to, as the narrator states that some people feel as though emotions happen to them, and they have no control over what happens. However the professor of psychology Lisa Feldman Barrett states that “emotions aren’t happening to you. Your brain makes them as you need them. You are the architect of your own experience. It’s just that most of this is happening outside of your awareness.” This is interesting to think about, your emotions are in your control, as your brain creates them, but they are created outside your awareness, so they feel out of your control. This is even more interesting to focus on as an actor, as these emotions need to be in your control, since you are the one performing them, and the situation you are in is not your own. However, for the performance to be ‘truthful’, these emotions need to be genuine “spontaneous responses to the actor’s immediate surroundings” (Unknown. 2009), so therefore is it possible for acting to be truthful? In my opinion, yes it is. If the actor is fully aware of the character’s surroundings and ‘imaginary circumstances’, then it is possible for them to replicate those emotions as though they were happening to them personally. It is all about living in that moment and trying to create genuine reactions. We had one rehearsal in which we felt that the emotions and movement of the scene felt so wholly truthful that we were elated at the end. However, we were never quite able to recapture that feeling fully. Perhaps it is something that can only be experienced once, since truth in life only ever happens once. Perhaps we were just never able to fully understand our emotional states again? It was stated by Stanislavski that the truth in life was different from seeing the truth on the stage. This is an important reference to remember as an actor, especially in naturalistic acting, where our aim is to create the appearance of ‘truth’ for the audience. Since much of our scene relied upon the changes of emotion in each section, this was important research to do as Harley’s emotions are greatly affected by what Kay does, even if she isn’t directly aware of it. I wanted the audience to believe in my portrayal of Harley’s emotions and for the emotions themselves to feel truthful. It was therefore important to go through the text thoroughly and be aware of where the emotional changes in the scene were, and whether that then felt truthful when playing it out. In his technique, the performer does not actually believe that the circumstances are truth, but they do believe in the creation of them in their imagination. This then created the difficulty of showing the appearance of ‘truth’ for the audience. Stanislavski’s answer to this was using the ‘Magic If.’ The actor answers questions of their character as what they would do in that situation (for example: if I were Harley, what would I do when I found the mess that Kay had made?) This creates character objectives for the actor, which drives their emotional and physical choices. Through answering these questions, the actor could make powerful, theatrical choices that would appear true and believable to the audience. Stanislavski stated that an actor who could achieve this, has achieved ‘scenic truth’ which he defined as “on the plane of imaginative and artistic fiction.” this was different to real truth that was “created automatically and on the plane of actual fact” (Stanislavski, C, 1986.) It was also important to look at the movement of the character in this scene. You can get the motivation and meaning perfect, but if the movement and actions are still recognisable as you, then is it truthful? I looked at The Moving Body (Lecoq, J, 2000) particularly the section on “a different body” which talks about the ‘bouffons’ technique. I took on some of this advice when creating the character of Harley as I needed to find the way that she walked, and her centre of gravity, in order to figure out who she was as a person. In this I took Lecoq’s advice and tried to ‘transform’ my body and over exaggerate the differences in how she and I moved, so that I got a clear sense of them. This allowed me to find the truth in how she moved, as she was a fairly lazy mover: she slouches when she sits, lies down often, and walks slowly. We then looked again at the blocking to figure out whether she would get up at certain points, or if that was just so the piece didn’t look ‘boring’ and so therefore was not truthful. We decided to abandon the blocking, and start again by simply running the scene and moving where we felt we needed to move. This created a much more realistic scene, certainly for us, as we understood the motivation behind our movement and it looked less blocked because it felt truthful to us. Ohikuare states that “Unfortunately, audiences have become a little impatient with stylized acting…Quentin Tarantino—his are highly stylized films, and yet you still believe the behavior in them. It might be heightened, but it’s truthful.” (Ohikuare, Judith. 2014) This was something we had to think about when deciding on the style of our piece, as we wanted it to be truthful and believable, but many audiences are finding that they don’t believe the acting or imaginary circumstances in stylised pieces anymore. This was an interesting concept to think about when considering our movement for the scene, as we needed it to be both interesting to watch and engage with, whilst still being truthful and not over stylised.