Some time ago now, I guess it must have been mid November I found myself sitting more or less front row (alright it was front row) admiring a scruffily dressed and bearded Ralph Fiennes. The occasion was one provided by Theatre Royal Haymarket through their scheme Masterclass which offers budding theatre enthusiasts the opportunity to learn from the professionals. On this particular occasion, Ralph Fiennes took to the stage. A charming gentleman to say the least, Fiennes spoke with such wisdom that one was left sitting in absolute awe.
The purpose of the afternoon was to advise and question an audience full of actors if acting was what they really wanted to do and how to go about doing it.
To begin, the first thing Fiennes said was, if you can think of something better to do with your life other than acting – go do that. He was not out to dishearten the audience but to paint a very clear picture. The life of an actor is difficult and difficulty in life can make one miserable…so end the misery. Do something else, something less heartbreaking, something comfortable. It is the reality of it and there is nothing wrong with changing your mind.
But if you really cannot think of anything, then stick to it and give it your all.
Embrace your decision to be an actor. Do not shy away or apologise for it. As an actor you have opted to be in front of people. Don’t turn it into anything negative by being nervous, embrace it. Enjoy the fact that you are being watched. When you audition in front of a panel, whether that is for a drama school or a play, for example, accept that YOU put yourself there. It was your doing and be proud of it.
Also, don’t stop being an actor just because you are not being paid to be one. Fiennes elaborated on this by saying that one should always think themselves an actor regardless of pay. Money shouldn’t control your ambitions to the point that you lose sight of what you wanted from life. Remember that any form of acting counts to your progression and your fulfilment of ambition. Gather your friends and fellow actors over some wine and Chinese takeaway and act out a scene, delve into a character, discuss lines, direct, rewrite, act, learn.
The minute you stop acting, you’ll lose the hunger so keep yourself challenged. Your imagination needs to be excited and with that things will grow, whether that’s the start of a little production you’ll put on with your friends or a better understanding of a character. Do what you can to keep your imagination going. The better your imagination- the better the final product.
Finally, but not least, Mr Fiennes advised that when you act, don’t act. Be it. Create a character who is present. When you are performing, don’t make it happen, let it happen. Don’t act it, be it.
So, as a result of that day I fell in love. I fell in love with his way of thinking. Whatever you might have heard about Ralph Fiennes, when it comes to charm and wisdom, he truly manages to out do everyone else within the acting community.