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Naturalism Is For Liars!

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

Let’s Be Honest… Naturalism Is For Liars 🤥

Ru Paul calling an actor a liar

And that sucks because we’ve been taught our whole lives that NATURALISM is completely synonymous with acting! It shouldn’t be the goal because Naturalism turns our joyful, creative acting into stilted, anxious indicating. I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s Oxford to define Naturalism for us: “Representation based on the accurate depiction of detail.” It doesn’t exactly send shivers down your spine, does it? Instead, I prefer Emotional Truth. 🤯🤯🤯

Michael Scott says What?

Yes. Really. Because… 🗣️ Emotional Truth is a truth shared in feeling that creates EMPATHY between the audience and your character. Emotional Truth is the reason storytelling works. It’s why audiences willingly suspend their disbelief. They know it isn’t real, instead willing to trust the story and storytellers to reveal a deeper truth. Let’s do some compare and contrast with Barbie, Oppenheimer, and The Bear: Emotional Truth: Barbie experiences self-discovery and purpose in being alive. Naturalism: Barbie is a plastic toy that will never be alive. Emotional Truth: Oppenheimer tells Einstein he thinks his work will end the world. Naturalism: That conversation never happened, it was 100% made up by the screenwriter to land the theme of the movie (which is does). Emotional Truth: In The Bear, Ritchie learns how to be a Michelin-level maitre d’ in a half-hour episode. Naturalism: It would take Ritchie literally years to learn that skill. Or how about this one… Emotional Truth: Batman watches over Gotham city all night from the shadows Naturalism: Batman spends half of his night trying to get his batsuit off to go pee

But It makes sense! We’ve all been taught that film acting IS naturalism. The problem is that naturalism leads us to…

  • Get lost in endless research

  • Make safe, boring, polite choices based on what “I would do”

  • Find substitution impossible unless we’ve lived the same experience

  • Shame spiral that we’re not Daniel Day Lewis doing EVERYTHING we can

Naturalism is what’s left when you take out art and creativity. It leads actors to mute themselves and their choices. That’s why I say that Naturalism is for liars. 🤔 So why do we do it? Why do people still teach naturalism? Because it’s a safe answer that sounds smart. 👉 Safe because the actor is no longer responsible for creating or offering truth. Instead they can outsource it to google or an expert in the field. 👉 Sounds smart because it’s hard to argue correct, cut-and-dry facts with right-brained emotional truth. Emotional truth is hard. It takes life experience. Self-awareness. Vulnerability. Perspective. Honesty. (You know, real Brené Brown stuff.) But it’s also the whole point. It’s the heart of storytelling. It’s the reason we love it. It’s the magic we have to share with the world and the best reason we have for why we should get the job over anyone else. So, what’s the takeaway? Actors shine, have fun, and book more work when we work from EMOTIONAL TRUTH. When you keep the distinction between naturalism and emotional truth clear, you’ll get our of your head and find your passion in your acting again. It will resonate with audiences, bring you joy, and create purpose in your auditions. Your Coach, Brian

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