“Organic fear – fake it til you make it” – Sonny Hartland

By April 11, 2017April 18th, 2018News

Tuesday 11th June’s Liverpool class was about portraying fear convincingly. Organic fear. Feeling it in your heart and bones, using your imagination to generate an icy hand squeezing your internal organs. How did we get on? Well it’s always interesting to me to see how different actors take the same text and give a different performance. I think for my own part I fell into the trap of playing the emotion instead of the objective, and having read and re-read the hand-out will hopefully dodge that bullet next time round.

I worked in a three with Jess Corcoran and the now departed Jade Easom-Samuels (not “dear departed”, just no longer a classmate) and I think we worked well. It’s difficult in a scene like this, I think, to get the starting level right. If you’re too scared at the start, you have nowhere to go that naturally follows the writer’s intent. If you start too calm, the stakes appear too low. Finding the right starting point for your character’s scene arc, especially in an emotionally-charged scene, is really important to me both as a writer and an actor. I’m not saying I always get it right – far from it, I’d imagine – but I’m aware of it. Creating fear – real soul-gripping fear – is more difficult for me than portraying something like love or hate. I’ve loved and hated, I’ve never really feared, not in a “this is it, survival time” kind of way, I think partly because scary situations often seem scarier afterward and somehow less real at the time. I definitely played “this is how I’d be if I were scared” rather than “I’m genuinely in need of replacement trousers”, so I know next time I’ll need to firm up my objective and play that.