To this day, many actors struggle with this concept within their actor training. Many acting classes and acting courses tend to veer away from this area, as it is felt that it is very psychological.
This is an interesting standpoint for an industry that is built on revealing the psychology and lives of characters. Surely this requires the actor to delve into the emotional states within themselves to recreate those states for a character? This was what Duse did to create her outstanding body of work.
There is an actor training that does focus on emotional recreation – Method Acting.
Method Acting lessons focus on allowing the actor to get in touch with themselves to recreate emotion, consistently. Its foundations were borne out of Behavioural Psychology, where it was established that humans react to sensorial stimulus.
During Method Acting courses, the actor spends a lot of time reliving personal memories from their past in conjunction with their senses. For example, to recreate joy, they may work on a memory where they experienced extreme joy – and relive that event by recollecting the sounds, sights, tastes, smells and feel of the event. During acting classes, the actor carries out these acting exercises to recreate the correct emotional content, as emotion in itself can only be recreated through the senses.
Brian Timoney recently said “It’s important for the actor to be emotionally aware. My approach to acting training is to get the actor to get in touch with this side of themselves to build their ability to express themselves without fear.”