“Your treasure house is within; it contains all you’ll ever need.”
– Hui Hai
I once read that we experience every possible emotion that we will ever feel in our lives by the time we are five years old. I believe this to be true. Which means all we have to do is to truthfully look inside ourselves to find a connection to any character which we might have to play. We all have good and evil inside, but we tend to deny the bad, the hard to take. We must accept the bad and be ready to call upon those experiences when needed.
There is no good and evil, there are only our interpretations. So we must remember what is hard to remember, what we have pushed down for so long, and embrace it as a part of who we are.
This seems as good a time as any to talk about emotional memory. Stanislavski was the first person to use it in acting. Emotional memory is the conscious creation of remembered emotions from the actor’s own past, which is then brought to the role. We achieve this by recalling the event sensually, through the five senses, in as much detail as possible. The following is a description of an emotional memory exercise.
Sit in a chair and relax both physically and mentally. Close your eyes.
Describe the area or areas relating to the experience. The description should be as specific as possible. “I feel uncomfortable” is far too general to be of any use. Try to describe what makes you feel uncomfortable. Are you hot? Are you cold? Where do you feel hot or cold? At your fingertips? The small of your back?
Describe the scene as visually as possible. Then describe the sounds, followed by the tastes, the feels, and the smells. It is not necessary to follow any sensory order since you cover them all.
Lead yourself up to and through the climax of your emotional memory, and then end it.
It is very easy to deride this type of exercise by letting your preconceived notions interfere with the act of remembrance. Don’t expect to laugh or cry. Just experience that moment in your life again. The evaluation of the success of this exercise should depend wholly upon the strength of the experience and your depth of concentration.