“When you cry you really cry”: Playing with actors’ emotions

Soseh Yekanians

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Historically, acting was in essence a practice derived from imitation and mimicry however, nowadays it seems that this understanding has shifted to more realistic interpretations in performance. As such, the connection and consequences of an actor’s psychological and emotional wellbeing within actor training is being called into question. In Australia particularly, research suggests that when it comes to teaching Emotional Acting, despite varying safer techniques available, psychological exercises such as Constantin Stanislavsky’s Emotional Memory (1936) are still favoured amongst most drama schools and teachers. Although these methods can be effective and aid to more “authentic” performances, they need to be practiced in a controlled and safe environment and even then, actors may lose themselves so far into their past emotional state(s), that then they are left vulnerable and distressed once the acting is over. Furthermore, there is an argument that this method of acting can be indulgent and forces the actor feel self-conscious to the point where they are taken right out of the play – defeating the goal of an authentic performance in the first place. Through observation of the current global liabilities and realities in actor training practices, this paper will discuss why it is vital that actors in Australia are offered alternative non-psychological methods to access emotions onstage so that they can remain safe and psychologically detached from their real-life emotions offstage.


Theatre; Acting; Emotional Acting; Actor Training; Constantin Stanislavsky; David Mamet; Australian Actor Training; The Alba Technique; The Perdekamp Emotional Method; PEM; Emotional Memory; Actors Wellbeing

To cite this article

Yekanians, Soseh. “‘When you cry you really cry’: Playing with actors’ emotions.” Fusion Journal, no. 15, 2019, pp. 154-163. http://www.fusion-journal.com/when-you-cry-you-really-cry-playing-with-actors-emotions/

First published online: March 2019

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