Poetry is essential for actors. You must read poetry constantly. Wordplay is part of an actor’s toolbox. When the actor can live-out a word by understanding what each word means through his/her actions, it creates vibrancy in a scene. Speaking poetry aloud can nurture good enunciation, develop emotion and set a range of tones for the actor. Genuine speech in character work is essential for a performer. When I think of advice for actors on nailing a good speech, I remember this quote from Sanford Meisner in his book Sanford Meisner on Acting:
“What’s that speech about? Don’t give a lecture. Tell us in your own words about a personal experience. It’s about going into a place and feeling isolated and locked out, but having a vision that somehow you belong there and helping through your own work, to open the doors, to make the place home. Proving that it was home all the time.”
A couple more of my favorite Mary Oliver quotes from the Poetry Handbook:
“Poetry is a life-cherishing force. And it requires a vision—a faith to use an old-fashioned term. Yes, indeed. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry. Yes, indeed.”
“What does it mean that the earth is so beautiful? And what shall I do about it? What is the gift that I should bring to the world? What is the life that I should live?”
If I am not in class teaching Meisner technique you may find me meandering in a bookstore. I love them!
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