mel in action

I believe in fusion. All communication is interlinked: voice, movement and thought. We do not separate these out in life and I don’t believe we should when performing or presenting.

My work as a voice coach, actor, acting teacher, writer and director has allowed me to learn and understand the depth of the interconnected nature of all human expression.

When I teach acting for screen, my approach is new and different. Some coaches teach rehearsal processes, others screen technique. But I believe both are fundamentally important for the actor. I teach both. I am also one of the few coaches to use camera and monitor during workshops. In this way, the private rehearsal work leads to the only ultimate ‘reality’ of the work: what ends up on the screen. The camera does not see in the same way as the eye. So, in training, it is vital for the actor to see the results of the work on the screen.

In film and television, there is no audience at the moment of acting. We have to find a child-like joy in the ‘game’ of true make-believe. It is an imagined ‘life’. We have to interact truthfully with our fellow actors and the environment. We cannot ‘show’ or ‘share’ or ‘explain’. We need to trust that the camera will see every thought. That thinking and reacting truthfully is enough.

Yet in spite of all the demands made by this medium, there is rarely any rehearsal An actor has to arrive on set fully prepared, with specific pictures in their head of every place and person mentioned, knowing their needs and how important they are. Actors need a clear understanding of the differences between themselves and the role so they can work on the part. But without ever losing their unique selves! The role is you -  ‘as if…’

But screen actors have to do all their private preparation having made no decisions about ‘how’ they will play.  For, unlike theatre, they may not have met their fellow actors, talked in depth to the director or even seen the set. This needs a very particular kind of private preparatory rehearsal.

The call ‘Action’, or the sight of an audience, makes every defence mechanism jump into the way of the actor or presenter: breath locks, mouth dries, brain blanks and life freezes. Your body wants you to survive the danger – not to act or present. How do we harness this marvellous energy? Make it work for us, not against us?

Over a lifetime, I have amassed many, many solutions, resources, games, manoeuvres and tips to solve these marvellous conundrums. These include breathing and vocal work, improvisations, physical metaphors, confidence boosters, releasing games, ‘psychological gesture’ work, triggers, masks, posture and physiological techniques.

Every actor, every role and every film is different. And I seek, each time, to find the special keys to unlock the problem for each specific person, situation and circumstance; for each text, genre and medium.