The following 3.21 minute read will change your acting.
I love airports. For real. I love them.
Everyone at an airport is there for a reason—going or returning from an adventure. Everyone has a new story or is setting off to write a few more pages of their story. It’s the greatest concentration of experiences I know of, and I love it.
But, I especially love watching people.
In Atlanta, the busiest airport in the world, there is an area reserved for reuniting service men and women with their families. It’s a powerful place to people watch.
One day, I watched this happen:
A young mother and her daughter were waiting in the airport lobby for her husband to return from war.
She held a sign that said: “Waiting for my husband”.
Her daughter held a smaller sign that said: “My Daddy’s My Hero.”
Soon, a young soldier came from around the corner. He was in a wheel chair.
When the young woman saw him she dropped her sign and let out a silent scream. She fell to her knees shaking. Her lips turned down as she cried, and her face was red from the moment.
Her daughter jumped up and down screaming for her father.
Just then, the young soldier put his bags in his lap and pushed his wheel chair to his family.
He stopped a few feet in front of his shaking and crying family. No one spoke, or kissed, or hugged. They just looked at each other quietly through the weeping.
Finally, the young soldier gestured to the young woman.
Come kiss me, he said.
Unsure how to move forward, she delayed. He reassured.
As she crouched down in front of him, she grabbed his face in her hands and studied it like she would study an ancient artifact--delicately, looking for secrets.
Her mouth, open and contorted, kissed him. It was slow, shaking, messy, and sad.
He kissed her back like he was kissing a stranger he didn’t trust, but recognized from some far-off memory.
It was ugly, awkward, and unsatisfied.
I was still watching, but I didn’t like the way this was going. It didn’t seem like it should go this way. It was off somehow. It wasn’t right.
So, in the middle of the airport, I yelled,
“STOP, you’re not kissing each other correctly! You’re SUPPOSED to do it differently! This SHOULD BE a beautiful moment, but you’re making it ugly. Kiss each other RIGHT! Never mind. You’re not good at this. I’m tired of watching it.”
Ok—that’s not what I did, but COULD YOU IMAGINE!? Interrupting the beautiful truth of life with a “supposed to”?
We do this all the time in our acting. Interrupt a beautiful truth with a “Should Be.”
There is no right way. No “best” technique. No perfect teacher.
Life is messy, unsure, problematic, unique, and beautiful.
It cannot be reduced to a formula, a map, or an objective.
Neither can acting.
For more on this idea, check out this video!