chapter  1
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Lecture 3

In my last lecture I spoke to you about the memory of feeling. I told you that memory appears in our system according to the same laws of our common memory. The laws of the memory of feeling, though they are more difficult to trace, and less attention is paid to them than to those of common memory, just the same they are of the same order and kind. With practice, exercise and technique, you can develop your memory of feeling to such an extent that it will be just as easy for you to handle your feelings as it is for you to handle telephone numbers, street numbers, etc. Then if you will remember, I told you how you can use that memory

in working on a part. I told you you could find it and use it in an actual part. There isn’t a feeling which you don’t experience in your life, if not the actual feeling, then a substitute. Substitutes, when handled by an artist, can embrace a very wide scale. From the murder or killing of people to the killing of mosquitoes is just one road. One is as far from the other as it can be yet at the bottom it is of the same quality. Suppose an actor has to play despair at the sickbed of a child, and

suppose the actor never had a child. But the actor may have had a sick puppy, and the elements, the foundations, the beginnings of the theory of the feelings toward the puppy and the feelings toward your child are more or less of the same nature. You can start from them and build them up and bring them to the required strength. The use of substitutes is a thing you must understand very well because very seldom in preparing a part will you have the colors at hand. Very seldom will you find that everything in the part was experienced by you. Always you will have an “I don’t know that,” especially when you have a creative part, when it isn’t pure realism. When you approach writers like Shaw and Shakespeare you will find

that you need something more than your actual life experience. You will find that you need things which you have never experienced in your

the things which to others. The things belong to your whole life and you will have to hunt them out from the whole atmosphere which surrounds you, and not only around you personally but sometimes far back. I saw Herman Themig in The Servant of Two Masters. There is an

example of what I am telling you now. Of using the memory of feeling only from the substitutes, not from his realistic life, though maybe he is a cheerful and happy fellow who likes to run around. His actions of being a servant in trouble doesn’t disturb him at all. The whole style of his actions, the adjustment which he takes to every action which happens in the play is of a certain quality, absolutely strange and foreign. What I mean is that the whole production is a sort of reproduction of

the commedia del ’arte from the modern point of view. He probably got his character from essays, articles, books, etc. The spirit of commedia del’arte, the spirit of foolery and spontaneous entertainment is just as far removed from the German theatre and the German actor as it can be. But thru intuition, thru analysis and thru clever and honest preparation they realize what the spirit is. In the case of Themig, you forget everything and feel as if you were

fed with nice peaches or apples. He just puts them into your mouth one after the other, and you don’t think, “What is he doing?” You don’t think, “How and where is the actor able to get that?” The difficult thing to understand is what it is. It’s easy after you know the game but what about before? Where would you get your feeling for every kind of extreme and grotesque way of eating spaghetti or sealing a letter? Only thru substitutes, and substitutes in comedy are very different. To create a human soul and to give it life on the opening night is, once

again, this ideal. Let us say that we are all human souls. What if we start to analyze

ourselves, what will strike us as very definite, fundamental matter? That life is action. When I am lying in the undertaker’s office, I am through – finished. From the minute I wake up in the undertaker’s office, I start to act. The very first minute you are born, you start to do something. You start to act. In every human being, no matter if it is simply an embryo or a developed human being, action is the first symptom of life. What would you say then is the function we can build on in our creation of the human soul? Do you think it is the action of acting? Let us go thru the everyday life of a human being. You wake up in the morning and without any knowledge on your

part, you realize that it is morning, that it is very early or it is late.