One of the most difficult aspects of acting is the ability to receive feedback about the way in which we perform. Playback Theatre Sydney rehearses weekly and during each rehearsal we feedback on eachothers performances. So am I getting feedback on my self or my acting?
If I view acting as a craft, a skill that can be honed and shaped and ultimately developed into a form that better communicates a message, then I’m more likely to view feedback from an objective and analytical standpoint. If, however, I view acting as an extension of my inner being, a sort of laying bare of my soul, then any criticism is likely to cause me to respond in fight or flight mode.
But compartmentalising approaches to acting does not solve the dilemma of feedback. Both actors and non-actors alike respond to criticism, constructive or otherwise, with an initial feeling of uneasiness. A hostile response towards the outer critic (“How dare they say that”) or a defeatist acceptance of the inner critic (“I’m hopeless. I’m going to give up acting”) are just two of the more common reactions.
I think the answer lies somewhere between the two approaches to acting. Viewing acting as a craft that can be improved upon is crucial to growth in our communication as performers. Maintaining contact with our feelings is crucial to our acting craft, and to deny how we feel when corrected distances us from the depth of who we are. As actors, particularly as Playback actors, we draw from our emotional depth in order to represent tellers with authenticity. I know that as a Playback actor I want to improve my acting skills (for the audience) and I also know that I need to keep in touch with my inner response and emotions (for the teller).
When receiving feedback, I’m learning to take time to listen to the critique, recognise my initial response (thereby validating it); analyse that which has been said and then apply changes to my craft. Feedback is not just a give (from the critic) and receive (from the actor). It’s a dialogue that requires time, trust and a desire to grow.
– Heather Clarke (Sydney Playback actor)