Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances
Anja Kirschner and David Panos, 2011
31 mins, Format: 2 Channel HD Projection & 2 Video Monitors
Three young actors are going through improvisation exercises devised by the influential American acting coach Sanford Meisner. Drawing on an excerpt from Clifford Odets 1937 play Golden Boy, the are producing “an accumulation of incremental non-responses or an absolutely, repetitively constructed and incrementally evacuated present for the sake of portraying an emotional truth, or Truth itself” (Ian White).
Their acting lesson is juxtaposed with excerpts from a late interview with Meisner and silent clips of famous Meisner-trained movie stars (Sydney Pollack, Michele Pfeiffer, Jeff Goldblum, Sandra Bullock among others). Meisner, whose formative years in the Group Theatre coincided with the Great Depression, defined acting as "living truthfully under imaginary circumstances." His method left a distinct mark on American cinema and remains a testimony to the dogma of naturalism and the seduction of ‘authentic’ emotional performance.