Updated: Jul 19, 2021
Being present is a way to step outside of your regular inclinations and reactions to the world around you and to focus completely on what is happening in a scene at each moment. Our technique is based on a method developed by Charles E. Conrad which is built around basic instinct. Its strength is in its simplicity, but to get there takes guidance and practice. An actor’s ability to be present in a room is directly linked to the ability to let go and simply be. Being present allows a scene to unfold naturally and organically. The performance isn’t forced. Nothing is pre-determined. The acting is more authentic.
Being Present is a direct method with roots stretching back to New York’s Group Theater in the 1930’s. It was there that Sanford Meisner studied “The Method” under Lee Strasberg. Meisner eventually broke away to form The Neighborhood Playhouse and explore his simplified acting theories that depended on a “Less is More” approach for a more natural, organic performance. It would be here that he met a promising actor named Charles E. Conrad and took him on as his primary teaching assistant. They used their evolving techniques to train a long list of acting heavyweights, including Robert Duvall, Susan Sarandon and Jack Nicholson. Meisner would later send Conrad to Los Angeles to take over the training of contract players at 20th Century Fox. Eventually, Conrad would break away to establish his own school where he would further refine Meisner’s teaching methods. His focus on the simple and powerful handling of dialog attracted Brian Cutler and he studied at the CEC Studio for over a decade, resulting in a long and varied acting career. He now teaches in Conrad’s tradition with the blessing of his friend and mentor.
Being present is, at its core, the ability to maintain total concentration away from yourself. The performance evolves, moment by moment and impulse by impulse. This enables you to peel back layers to uncover your creative core.
Think about it this way. Tomorrow when you drive to the supermarket and park your car in the lot, don’t step right out and head for the carts. Take time to pause and divide one action from the next. Sit there for a couple of minutes, casting away the scattered thoughts that go with negotiating traffic and other drivers. Consciously end one action before starting another and be aware of the feeling you get when one thing is finished and another one begins. In this way, you can enter the market fully present for whatever interactions wait for you inside.
Presence also depends on you being comfortable in your space. The ultimate goal of our training and preparation is to enable you to move and act naturally in any environment, without any outside static influencing your performance. Our method of being present also removes competition from the learning process. Each student is working individually, and each breakthrough is a personal one.
You have to be confident in your training and abilities to be present. We teach you to get out of your own way to let the scene unfold in a true and real way and we always emphasize progress, not perfection.
To learn more about our teaching method, schedule a free audit, contact the Brian Cutler Actors Studio at 818-424-5470 and sit in on a session as our guest.