Advanced Acting Technique – Affective Memory

As I progressed throughout my career as an actor, I began to uncover unique acting techniques that I had no idea even existed. Acting is one of the most interesting art forms, as unlike other forms of art, actors must perfectly replicate human life, human emotions and human actions in such a manner that onlookers willingly forgo their doubt and judgment.

Throughout your life as an actor, you must stockpile your inner resources. These resources consist of every moment of your life, such as movies, social events, personal conflicts, photographs, every step you make outside of your home and every conversation you have. These resources may be used as you create a cultivate a character for stage or film.

Affective memory is defined as any memory you as a human being can call upon when approaching a character to manufacture controlled emotional reactions to specific events and circumstances.

How to Choose an Affective Memory

After you realize you have an entire database of resources within your mind, comes the difficult task of selecting an affective memory that coincides with the particular scene your character is going through. In some circumstances this selection process will be easier than others. For example, your character’s mother died and he is at the funeral. While your mother is still alive, your best friend had died. Thus, you may call upon this affective memory to help establish the emotional blueprint of your character.

Other times the selection process may be a little more difficult; however, there is always a scenario that you can relate to in some fashion. For example, your character was just sentenced to prison for killing a woman, even though your character is innocent. While you have never encountered such a situation, you may call upon memories from TV shows or movies where a character underwent a similar circumstance.

Applying Affective Memories to Your Character

This is a tricky part for many actors who begin delving into Affective Memory Acting. While you may use your own memories to help form the emotional blueprint for a scene, you must never forget that you are NOT your character, and how his reactions (both physically and emotionally) are strictly his. However, when you’re calling upon your affective memory, use these memories to empathize with the character. It is through this sensation of empathy you may begin to cultivate a character that is rich will true emotions, but unique to the character as the implementation of said emotions are based on his unique character profile.

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