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Acting Aerobics: Pay Attention To Daily Rituals

Along the course of your career you will be asked to enact many simple tasks only to find that they becomes extremely difficult once you try to do them in character. Take sipping a coffee, or chopping ingredients for dinner, or simply tying your hair back, for example. These are all things we do on a daily basis, but once our character has to do them, or there are twenty plus people on set watching you do them, we get nervous or our mind goes blank.

A great way to incorporate some actor training into your daily routine then, is to simply pick one ritual you already do and commit to paying attention to yourself fully while doing it. If you find this activity particularly helpful, you can move on to mastering one routine before moving on to another one. Your observations will becomes extremely helpful when you as an actor have to use your sense memory or imagination to create circumstances that may not be present at the time.

Remember: life is always super specific, and your acting should be no different.

Time: 5min max (or however long it takes you to complete a very basic daily task).

What you will need: Absolutely nothing you don't already have. Maybe your notebook and pen.

How: Pick one daily routine and be 100% in the moment with it. Here are some examples you can chose and questions you might ask yourself along the way…

Making a cup of coffee. How do you feel before you start the ritual. Are you tired? Excited? Can you anticipate the aroma that will fill your kitchen, or do you stumble towards it? What mug do you choose? Where do you keep it? How far do you have to stretch to reach it? Where are the rest of the ingredients you might need? How heavy is the cup when it is empty? What does it sound like when the machine starts to brew your coffee? Does the sound annoy you, or does it wet your appetite? What does the coffee smell like to you? Does it remind you of anything? A memory? Do you take time to smell it even, or do you drink it straight away? Do you like the taste of it (if yes: what does that pleasure feel like, if no: what happens in your body when you force it to ingest something you don’t like?) Where in your mouth do you taste it? Do you pay attention to texture or flavours? How can you tell in your mouth it is liquid? How hot is the mug in your hand? Where do you hold it? How heavy is it, once full, compared to when you first got it out? Do you put your cup down between sips?…

Okay, so you could think that this is super annoying, or a very self indulgent activity. But, trust me, engaging all of your senses this way is like a musician practicing their musical instrument. Plus, this exercise takes no additional time out of your day to do. Actors need memory re-call for their work, and it is important to know how you feel about the things you do in your daily life in order to know what adjustments you need to make to get into character.

Here are some other examples you could try if you find you are stuck: stepping out of the shower once you are clean, brushing your teeth, dressing yourself/undressing yourself, opening mail, having a drink, opening your door (arriving at home), looking in the mirror, doing your hair, washing dishes, feeding your pet.

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