Doing nothing…twiddling my thumbs?

I met the most realistic and honest T.A. while in college and she told me that I had a gift.  The gift of DIRECTING! [Sounds like a superhero trait]  She said I didn’t “act” like typical beginning actors.  I inherently and subconsciously directed scenes while I acted in them-I would justify my blocking-create visual pictures as well as the acting moments.  She said to me-you’re a director.

I tell you that story to tell you this-there is nothing in the world that I am more passionate about than theater. I’m currently reading “How to Stop Acting” by Harold Guskin.  He writes:

Nothing is powerful when admitted in front of an audience or a camera.  Doing nothing puts the audience on notice that the person in front of us is real.

I want to be real-I want my actors to be real. With no hang-ups, insecurity or doubt.  Harold Guskin suggests to simplify ones acting by having natural reactions to the language through your initial impulse.  I’m reading this book for two reasons 1) Because I don’t understand actors the way I want too.  2) My expectations of what actors can do is sometimes too high.

In the process of reading this book I’m hoping to answer these question, how do I articulate what I want from an actor without giving them all of the answers?  How do I give them the foundation to allow them to get out of their own way and essentially do nothing?

What do you think? Can you give me some techniques you use that get actors to trust your direction and commit to being real?

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