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The Craft

Succeed by Staying Present

Succeed by Staying Present
The moment. Now. That's all we're ever going to have. Yet why is it that human beings are so rarely in it?

Acting is so interesting to me from a scientific standpoint, because no matter what technique or method you use, no matter how many exercises you've performed or how much homework you've done, it all comes down to the moment.

The natural state of who we are is presence, and it is evoked out of the moment. At our Anthony Meindl's Actor Workshop studios in L.A. and N.Y., 90 percent of the teaching I do with actors is getting them connected to that which we innately are and that which we must be to create: present.

Nothing ever occurs outside of it.

Acting is the science of moment-to-moment-ness and staying present to each one, whether onstage or in front of a camera. It requires us to get present in a way that for some reason we often avoid or are scared of in our own lives, partly because we have inherited cultural ADHD and are taught to do many things at once, no matter how not present we are in doing them.
In life, many of us live half asleep. We anesthetize ourselves from feeling. We live in our heads and believe the things we tell ourselves must be true. We think it's normal to be distracted and stressed and frazzled and disconnected because we see everyone else doing it. But acting is about telling a story, and stories are only forged moment to moment. All we want to know as an audience member is "What happens next?" And what happens next occurs to the participants telling the story and to those watching.

I think the real craft of acting (and of life) is about surrendering to what is, what's happening in the moment. Not the way we planned it or the way we rehearsed it. Not the way we think it should play out or the way we want to control it. But allowing it to take us where it will, like life. Because whether we like it or not, it always does.

That takes discipline. That takes guts. That takes honesty and bravery and an unflinching desire to know truth as it unfolds in front of you. And actually, I think that's the real reason any of us act in the first place. Because this exhilaration that accompanies surrender to the moment (scientists call it "flow") -- is what we are all actually striving to experience in our daily lives.

Anthony Meindl is an award-winning writer, producer, director, actor, and teacher. His Acting Workshop was awarded Back Stage Reader's Choice Awards for scene study and cold reading classes last year. His first book, "At Left Brain Turn Right," is out now.

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