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Adventures In Acting - Imagination!

Updated: Feb 4

This month's collection of acting-related thoughts and feelings:


Actor screams into camera lens
Neil Armstrong’s shot of Buzz Aldrin


“You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

Mark Twain - Writer of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"


Imagination - In Acting:

At some point, someone looked up at the moon and said "I wanna go there!".

(I think looking up at a stage or screen at a young age felt like a similarly powerful yet unattainable goal).

Either because of the knowledge that the feeling of being on the moon would be genuinely awesome, or knowing that the view back towards our planet from the moon would be life changing, something drove many, many smart and dedicated people to spend thousands of hours to make it happen, all from that spark of imagination.

Or as George Bernard Shaw put it:

"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will."

It's more complicated, as an adult, to let our imagination run wild and free.

It seems like it would be a useful tool though, as an actor, to have quick and deep access to the fullness of our imagination.

For example:

Can you imagine being in a big warehouse size sound stage with a full green screen set up and there is a member of the crew waving a big stick above you like a fishing rod, on the stick is an "X" where you are told to focus.

Meanwhile the Director is shouting in your direction

"Now, the monster is drooling over you, you scream as it's toxic spit lands in your eyes! then suddenly with its huge mouth and sharp teeth it rips off one of your arms!"

In that moment you , the actor, has a choice to make, You either:

Option A

Call cut and realise what a ridiculous collection of life choices you have made that got you to this point.


Option B

Trust that your infinite source of playful imagination will allow you to respond "as if" what the director is saying were true, free of any judgement or doubt.

Do you think we can train our imagination?

If so, how?

Mr Sanford Meisner might say that with a daily practise of "daydreaming" and "emotional preparation" then yes one can train the imagination.

Uta Hagen might say that with detailed script analysis and exploration of the character's objectives, obstacles, and relationships, the actor can train imaginative and creative processes.

Maybe Lee Strasberg would say that the role of imagination can be employed in conjunction with emotional memory, allowing actors to vividly imagine and immerse themselves in the circumstances of the character to enhance the authenticity of their portrayal.

But really, the master of your imagination is guess who?...

Yep, me!

No! Silly!

You are!

Practise some "what if" thinking whenever you can and not just the worst case scenario, why not take some time to imagine what if you could have the most wonderful thing you can imagine, Like going to the moon maybe!?

Last word goes to Pablo Picasso:

"Everything you can imagine is real".

Stay Playful People!


Want to work with me?

Working with Carly was a super collaborative experience, we put the world to rights and delved deeply into all things acting.

We identified blocks and found ways to work through them in a playful but precise way.

There is an opportunity to work with me in a 1-2-1 way for the next 3 months.


What's my motivation?

This month's scene is from the recent smash hit film "Saltburn".

Saltburn is about a student at Oxford University who finds himself drawn into the world of a charming and aristocratic classmate, who then invites him to his eccentric family’s sprawling estate for a summer never to be forgotten.

The scene chosen by Stephen Atkins (Teaching Actor-Director-Writer-Theatre Practitioner) is the brilliant "Lunch" scene which is close to the end of the film and if you have seen the film you will know well.

He says about the scene:

"With the off kilter storytelling and stylised photography, this is a scene that has more going on than typical kitchen table realism. Sometimes the actor has to pare back, expose, magnify or be 'blank' for the totality of the performance to lift the audience. Saltburn's lunch scene was scenic style loaded with classic Greek Tragedy as it was an 'actor's scene'. The process of putting those elements together was, in my opinion, an adventure in acting."

Full disclosure: The original scene Stephen chose was removed from Youtube whilst writing this blog so the analysis will instead be of the "We love him" scene.

Gotta love the copywright laws!

Click on the video link below and then check my short interpretation underneath:

(Please be advised this scene contains adult language)

There many shocking, and memorable scenes in this film but for me this subtle and simple scene says so much about the skill of the actors.

Barry Keoghan effortlessly plays Oliver Quick and Jacob Elordi plays Felix Catton with the silky smoothness of a sexy satin scarf.

For this we can look at what both actors are doing as this scene is a genuine two handed, back and forth, table tennis match of contrasting points of view and objectives.

Barry shall henceforth be known as "Bazza" (obviously).

Jacob will, of course, be called "Jakey"


Bazza bowls in all cocky like and gets that top off straight away, potentially a quick tactic to appear vulnerable in preparation for a pre-meditated and well played hand.

Pretending to not know what might be upsetting Jakey, he is keeping his cards very close to his bare chest.

Sidenote: the music choice for Bazza's entrance is very reminiscent of a Muay Thai fighters ring walk music to add extra suspense.

Jakey is laid out, sucking and sulking, sulking and sucking.

With plenty of prodding he finally lets out his reasons for his bad mood.

He turns to see Bazza for the first time and through dark glasses expresses his disappointment in hearing that Bazza and Jakey's sister were "intimate".

Here is where Bazza gets to stick to his objective, which could be summarised in the following intention - I want you to think i care about you and everyone you love.

By playing so innocent and sweet he immediately takes Jordy off guard.

Epitomised in the line of dialogue after Jordy asks "why didn't you tell me"

Bazza blurts out "I thought it would be nicer not to".

Genius objective playing!.

This very clever character angle really "check mates" Jakey'sJakey more immature initial point of view, which might be something like - You shouldn't play with my toys.

In fact Jordy ends up berating the very people he is initially defending - "She's so embarrassing and Farleigh? what a little shit stirrer!"

Hook line and sinker! JorJakeydy has fallen for the old "Kill em with kindness" strategy.

In this case quite literally!

There is always a point of view people! Have one, and when it needs changing, have another one!

Keep calm and have an opinion!


Have a short scene you want to see analysed simply?

Click below to send link to scene:


Any acting related news or questions email me:

Thanks for your attention - stay playful people.



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