In The Power of the Actor, a Los Angeles Times bestseller, premier acting teacher and coach Ivana Chubbuck reveals her cutting-edge technique, which has launched some of the most successful acting careers in Hollywood.
The first book from the instructor who has taught Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt, Elisabeth Shue, Djimon Hounsou, and Halle Berry, The Power of the Actor guides you to dynamic and effective results. For many of today's major talents, the Chubbuck Technique is the leading edge of acting for the twenty-first century. Ivana Chubbuck has developed a curriculum that takes the theories of the acting masters, such as Stanislavski, Meisner, and Hagen, to the next step by utilizing inner pain and emotions, not as an end in itself, but rather as a way to drive and win a goal.
In addition to the powerful twelve-step process, the book takes well-known scripts, both classic and contemporary, and demonstrates how to precisely apply Chubbuck's script-analysis process. The Power of the Actor is filled with fascinating and inspiring behind-the-scenes accounts of how noted actors have mastered their craft and have accomplished success in such a difficult and competitive field.
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August 17, 2005
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Excerpt from The Power of the Actor by Ivana Chubbuck
Acting is a complex and elusive art to define. Yet almost everyone can tell good acting from bad acting--or good acting from brilliant acting. Why can one actor be riveting in a play and another actor be dull and boring in the very same play, doing the same character, the same lines? If it were just the script, the beauty of its language, the artful turn of a phrase, we would only need readings. But the words are not just read with sterility from the page. They are performed and brought to life by actors.
Every actor knows that discovering and understanding your personal pain is an inherent part of the acting process. This has been true since Stanislavski. The difference between the Chubbuck Technique and those developed in the past is that I teach actors how to use their emotions not as an end result, but as a way to empower a goal. My technique teaches actors how to win.
If you look closely at virtually all drama and comedy--in fact, all literature--you will find that the will to win is the one constant element. In every story, a character wants or needs something (their goal)--love, power, validation, honor--and the story documents the way in which they try to win that particular desire or need. While what and how the characters try to win is defined in many ways and takes many forms and shapes, when you distill these goals down, you find that every character's conflict and struggle is about fighting to win whatever their goal is.
I teach actors how to win because this is what people do in real life! They go after what they want. Interesting and dynamic people go after what they want in interesting and dynamic ways, creating greater emotion and intensity in realizing these goals. They do this subconsciously, whereas the actor must understand himself thoroughly and have the tools to break down a script in order to make this interesting and dynamic behavior appear and feel like a subconscious process. The Chubbuck Technique stimulates this behavior, allowing for this natural and powerful human drive to be realized.
The Chubbuck Technique grew out of my search to understand and overcome my own personal traumas--particularly, how they impacted my acting and my life. I had no idea how powerful and profound this concept would become.
I grew up with a distant/dysfunctional/workaholic father and a physically and emotionally abusive mother. I developed deep-seated abandonment issues and felt unworthy of being loved. In essence, I rose to the occasion of being diminished. As an adult and an actress, I took all my childhood and adolescent horrors and wallowed in them. I was looking for sympathy and understanding, which I thought would help relieve the suffering of my past. As any actor would strive to be, I was truly in touch with my emotional pain.
But I began to wonder, "To what end am I feeling all of this? How do the feelings and emotions from my past shape my work as an actor? How do they shape who I am as a person? How can these fractured, scattered and sometimes divergent emotions be focused to serve a character in a script?"
As a working actress, I would see so many actors who were truly dredging up deep, painful emotions, but whose work seemed self-indulgent. I realized that having deep and profound feelings didn't necessarily make me a deep and profound person. I saw that coddling one's pain-- in life and onstage--creates almost the opposite effect. It seems self-involved, self-pitying and weak, the key characteristics of a victim. Not the most compelling choice for an actor to make.
I began investigating how to put the legacy of emotions I had inherited to better, more effective use in my work. When I examined the lives of successful people, I noticed that they seemed to use their physical and emotional traumas as a stimulus, not to self-indulgently suffer, but to inspire and drive their great achievements.
I suspected that very same formula could be applied to actors and their approach to their work. I watched the great actors of our time and I saw in their performances the same emotional drive to overcome adversity, and, in fact, to use those very obstacles to necessitate achievement of a goal and win. In their performances, great actors were instinctively mirroring the behavior and nature of great people.