A reader of this blog recently called me up to chat, and made me realize that it was time to clarify some of these terms which I bandy about so freely. For example: I’m constantly referring to improvs as being based on a flow of “feelings” or “feelings-and-energy.” I also refer to good technique as being based on “using the words to feel the piece” and “opening yourself up to the feeling more and more.” So what are these “feelings” that I keep referring to?

I certainly do not mean “feelings” in the sense of “being very emotional all of the time on stage.” I’m not a super-emo guy.

I use the terms “feelings” or “feeling-state” in a broader sense, to refer to everything which you feel during the scene. Anything you feel is a “feeling-state.” Blank neutralness is a feeling. Machinelikeness is a feeling. Deadness is a feeling. These are all feeling-states which one can explore and go deeper and deeper inside of. It is not necessary for a scene to contain rage or joy in order to use a technique of building the scene based on the “feelings.”

Note that these feelings include all physical feelings, and in fact even the “emotional” feelings are experienced primarily as physical sensations. I tell the actors in my group that they should try to experience everything as physically as they possibly can. (This doesn’t mean they have to jump around vigorously all of the time. It just means that they experience the energy, emotion, and other feelings as something inside of their bones, muscles, nerves, and cells.) If you experience the scene physically, it will become visible to the audience.