Acting for real
Antony Meindl’s Actor Workshop is back with a two-week intensive course at Nu Boyana Film School. Instead of a weekend workshop, this time the participants get two full weeks of hard work with London-based acting coach Cynthia Levin. We sat for a talk with Cynthia – an actor and stand-up comedian to explore the idea behind Meindl’s way of working.
An American in London Cynthia is now embracing her adventure and first visit to Bulgaria.
Hi, tell us first how you feel about coming to Bulgaria?
I’m so excited and looking forward to this. It’s my first time. I have met some Bulgarian actors in London and they are all great. So really looking forward to his adventure.
What should we expect from the 2-weeks AMAW?
It is going to be intensive! We are combining our normal classes once a week for six weeks at AMAW and merge them in the two weeks we got in Bulgaria. It’s a stepping-stone into the actual school and what we do every week at AMAW. We do listening exercises in the beginning. People always say they open them up in a way they’ve never experienced before. It’s ALL about listening.
What is the core of the course?
What we are most concerned with is allowing openings for people. It’s a process of adding information. We all walk around full of blocks – emotionally by dealing with daily life.
“The best acting comes from no planning.”
What is the work process?
We work a lot off the page. In life people get triggered by different things – fear, insecurity and etc. It’s the same with acting. Working on a scene, you can be triggered by the material or by your partner to break down your blocks. We are not about the lines. What is important to us is the connection with the other person in a scene. We don’t want you to memorize lines. Don’t plan! Like this conversation with you now – I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what you’re going to be like. And the same goes for you. So why would actors do that to themselves.
“When your focus is on somebody else, you don’t have to be self-conscious or self-aware.”
What is your opinion on rehearsing?
We are not against rehearsal, but we are against planning. The idea is about living in the moment. Every moment in life, whether acting or living is new. You actually end up hurting yourself and your performance by trying to plan a moment. Then you will be phoney and you will be controlling. People are afraid of coming out wrong, doing it wrong and then the control comes in. Trying to control your partner, your environment and the results of your scene and therefore nothing special or interesting can happen.
“The idea of our work is to help you get out of control.”
What attracted you to this way of working?
It’s always growing and evolving. It’s about living consciously. What that means is ALL your experiences have shaped you – good and bad. Shoving negative moments into your unconsciousness makes you shut down parts of yourself. Choosing only things you “like” will not make you a complete performer or a human.
Isn’t this a survival mechanism for each of us to deal with overwhelming emotions?
Yes, it’s your ego trying to protect you. But you no longer live under these circumstances. We need all parts of ourselves to be free and to survive. Rejecting parts of yourselves means you don’t embrace your true self. No judgment. Then you are free. This will help you embrace your character without any judgment or fear you cannot portray them truthfully.
“Tell a story without getting in the way of the story.”
Your “words of wisdom”?
We are never done. We are never complete or perfect. Allowing ourselves to grow, we get affected. It’s a constant process – in life and in acting.
Interview by Sophia V
Photos by Edo Brugue and Nikki ‘Leigh Scott’ Wills
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