Wait For It… a blog by Andy Ross

Acting School

Posted on May 13, 2011


Welcome, students, to the Berbrowski Studio for the Actor. By coming here, you have chosen to pursue the bravest profession. Doctors, firefighters, lion cage repairmen---they all share their skills with the world. We share ourselves.

As you know, acting schools can be quite bewildering. Internalize, externalize, find the truth, find the beats, find your light... Here at the Berbrowski Studio, we have only one rule written by the great Gerhard Berbrowski: Don’t do that weird thing with your mouth.

Simple, elegant, true. This principle has guided the stage and screen for nearly six decades. In straightforward terms, it states simply that one should strive (consciously or super-consciously) to avoid the extra-instinctual mannerisms in the area of the lips and/or jaw by sublimating said mannerisms into a baseline psychological envelope.

“Don’t do that weird thing with your mouth.” You will find it on hand-written signs in dressing rooms and makeup trailers across the world. It has shepherded iconic performances that have gone on to win Oscars, Tonys, BAFTAs, People’s Choice Awards. I beg you heed its counsel.

Let us begin. Form a line at stage right. And… act!

Have you all begun acting? Excellent. Now, let me look at you.

You there, the blonde ingenue, you are doing a weird thing with your mouth. Stop doing that… Simply stop.

No, I’m sorry, I said you should stop doing a weird thing with your mouth. Instead, you seem to have intensified the weirdness. Now it has gotten even weirder still.

Everyone, come gather around this young woman and look at her mouth. See? See, right there. Do you notice the oddness, the uneasiness? Acting isn’t about attempting to not do something weird with your mouth; it’s about not attempting to not do something not weird with your mouth. Class, can you see how the manner in which she holds her mouth keeps getting weirder and weirder?

Try as she might, she simply cannot cease her mouth weirdness. Does that mean she can never be an actor? With gentle coaching…

Oh, my dear, are you crying? Don’t cry; we’re simply objectively criticizing your weird mouth as a group. There’s no reason to cry. Also, we don’t touch upon cry-acting until the third lesson.

Here, take a look at this young gentleman. Act for us, young man.

Do you see how his mouth remains decidedly un-weird? Not too much, not too little. It’s an everyday, unimpressive, Joe Schmoe, flyover-state mouth. That’s a mouth that draws box office receipts.

Now, looks at his eyes. Those are going crazy---twitching, squinting, over-the-top darting about.

That, my friends, is true acting.

Class dismissed!


Acting Lesson: Emoting

Posted on May 27, 2010