Introduction to "A Passion for Acting" by Allan Miller

APPETITE

Despite monumental ignorance of actor's preocesses of work, tens of thousands of young (and sometimes older) people join the acting ranks every year. For some, it's the glint of fame and glamour that catches their desires. For most aspiring actors - from my experience - there is the larger need for validation of self, the acknowledgent that the thoughts and feelings of an individual have the right to be expressed.

And talent be damned. I remember way back in grammar school a singing teacher lining us all up, making us imitate her la-la-la scale one at a time. The she separated us on the spot into singers and non-singers. For years I didn;t believe I could sing because of that teacher.

Talent is an aptitude for expression in a given medium. Some of us have less aptitude than others. So what? It doesn't mean we don't have any.

Give me people with enough appetite, and within a reasonable amount of time, I can train them to act well. We all have deep secret feelings. With enough craft and discipline, they can be connected to our work. Even if we don't achieve greatness, even if we sometimes fail, if we stay connected to our deepest feelings and attitudes towards life, we will find gratification and a sense of accomplishment.

This applies to all walks of life, to all cultures. No Matter where we work, or how, the need to feel expressive is universal.

I have taught semiliterate teenagers in Harlem, Irish actors in Dublin, a class of lawyers-to-be at New York University, a gathering of corporate heads in Canada, university students on the east and west coasts, graduate students at a Yale School of Drama, aspiring actors from all over the country, and actors already cast in plays, films, and television. I've taught a casting agent.

The one requisite measure of any of their talents was appetite, the degree to which they hungered to express themselves. All else followed.

The path to creativeimagination - and even inspiration - is lined with good, sensible, structured stepping stones of craft. We can all walk that path with training. Every human being has infinitely more capacity to live imaginatively than our usual habits permit. It is craft that allows our imaginations to flourish.

That's what this book is about.