Like most readers who would pick up this title, I was curious and skeptical. I definitely needed some self-confidence when talking with strangers at parties and sometimes in interviews. However, I didn’t think that I could learn any acting techniques, let alone that a book would be able to teach them. Luckily, I was surprised!
Jane Marla Robbins is a unique mixture of actress (she starred in Rocky movies along as having appeared on Broadway), teacher, life coach and therapist. She brings to the book a variety of anecdotes from famous actors as well as “real” people with whom she has worked over the years. There are quite a variety of techniques that are presented, so it is easy to pick and choose which techniques will work best for you.
I found two techniques particularly helpful. The first was “Playing a Character” where, you guessed it, you imagine you are a particular character, especially one that is overly typified. Like Cleopatra or James Bond, these characters are easily understood in how they act. I didn’t pick a character as well known as some as the people she suggested, but one that I completely adore: Heidi Klum! Come on, who wouldn’t want to be her? So I imagined my self completely sexy and powerful, with long legs and a gorgeous smile. Would she ever feel bashful at a party, not in my mind! It was amazing how I moved my body so differently, especially as I got more and more into the character. You should try it some time!
The second is what she calls “The Inner Walnut.” I know, it sounds weird and yes, I’m allergic to walnuts, so I don’t know how inner I want this acting technique! First, you are to imagine a particular image or thing that brings you a sense of inner calmness or confidence. Then, you take that image and put it in an imaginary and protective walnut shell and place it in your heart. Yes, cheesy. But effective! During this last interview, I used this technique to make me feel calm before I entered. Once or twice, I would start to get clammy hands and a high-pitched voice, so I would take a second to visualize that inner walnut with my sunny yellow sunflower inside. And on a side note, I was hired!
I do not think that all these techniques would work for me, but Robbins doesn’t think so either, that’s why she offers so many from which to choose. I am completely amazed at how easy most of these techniques were to apply to my own life, and how effective they could be. I feel that they allow me to be my ideal self without most of the insecurities and anxieties that get in the way. I was comfortable at a party and that party ended up being wonderfully fun, instead of the horror show I usually imagine. And that interview was amazing, yes I was nervous and knew I couldn’t afford to not get the job, but the interviewer only saw my calm and confident self. That self is the one that people want to work with, not the slightly fidgety, clammy hand, nervous wreck I can sometimes seem to be.
Another benefit of reading this book is the respect of good acting. While I already could point out good versus bad acting, I now can appreciate what the good actor must do to achieve that role. While I do think there are “natural” actors, those actors who play so many different roles so well have now been catapulted in my esteem.