Living the “Slices” Not Written
“Slices of Life”
Your agent sends you the scenes for your audition, and if you’re lucky, the script too. You take the time to read the script. It gives you information about the story, the characters, and the relationships. Then you start to work on the scenes that were picked for the audition. You feel prepared as you go into the room. But your nerves take over and everything that you worked on goes right out the window. Now all you’re left with is FEAR.
I am here to tell you how to fix this problem. Preparing the audition scenes and reading the script just isn’t enough. It’s so easy to get stuck in your head. To get out of that, you start thinking about the moment before. But then the moment before becomes just that – the moment before. It’s not enough to make you believe the most important part – “I am this person living this life.” The scenes, (I like to call them “slices of life”) which are NOT written, are the ones that allow you to sew the pieces of the quilt together. Without those unwritten scenes, there is a whole part of the life that is missing, causing you to “act,” not live the life.
I have been fortunate enough to work with thousands of actors over the past 35 years, not only at the Margie Haber Studio in Los Angeles, but throughout the world. Most of them have gone to many acting classes that have taught them intellectual preparation, “What is my overall objective? What is my back-story? What actions do I need for every line?” And guess where all those questions land you? In your head! The worst thing for an actor is to live in their brain, versus experiencing our lives all through our body. At my studio, we teach all of our classes on-camera and work on audition “slices.” The camera works as an X-ray- allowing us to see what’s working and what’s not. What always works is being specific. And to create specificity, the relationship is the foundation, not the story nor the character. The journey in life and in acting is taking a dance with the other person, not shutting yourself off to play your idea. By living the slices of life that aren’t written in the script, we also get to use the muscle of imagination that never fails us.
“before I shoot my scene starting on page 10, I ask the actor I am working with to improv the imaginary slice that happened between pages 8 and 9. It really puts the ‘gas in the car’ and makes me believe I am currently in the middle of this life. I remember last year working with Margie on the slice where my daughter runs away. The next scene in the script had me at the police station screaming for help. Margie had me live the slice that wasn’t in the script where I was driving to the police station, calling all my friends and praying to god she was safe. It fueled me so much that when we shot in the police station, I was already filled with the images that we created. There was no time for me to be fearful of “doing well,” when I was fearful of losing my child!”
Student Emily Swallow shares another example of living what’s not written. Emily worked as a series regular on “The Mentalist.” She loved living the slices of life that we built from our imagination, not just the ones written in the script. Emily shares the following experience:
“I was nervous being the new character on the show. I had a “slice” where I was an undercover cop seducing a suspect. So I was also nervous about putting the moves on someone I hadn’t even met yet. Margie told me, ‘If you think you’re nervous, can you imagine how nervous the guest star you’re seducing is?!’ We both had to whisper scandalous things in each other’s ears in the scene. So Margie suggested that I whisper some fun and sexy things to him before we shot the slice. When we met on set, I suggested we get in the mood by whispering whatever the hell we wanted before the camera started rolling. He was so grateful that I broke the ice that way and we wound up laughing and having the best time. It was an lesson on how important it is to create the life that is not written.”
There is an expression, “The truth will set us free.” When you create the slices not written in your imagination, you start to believe the circumstances and play an idea. Life is filled with images and senses that you have created and will not forget, it will be yours! You know what is the best part? You will enjoy “LIVING A LIFE” and have fun again! Isn’t that really why we became actors in the first place?!