Updated: Jul 9, 2020
I've had the distinct honor and pleasure of studying with legendary master acting teacher Eric Morris and I know I will be writing many blog posts about his work and about my training with him, but this post is going to focus on something his incredibly talented wife Susana Morris - a master teacher in her own right (and the creator of a powerful technique called "First Impressions" - a true gift to actors) said one morning during our preparation for her session at one of the Lake Arrowhead Major Jamboree training retreats I attended. (Visit www.ericmorris.com to learn all about his system of acting, his classes and the Jamborees)
I was lying on the floor on one of those blue blankets the facility provides (anyone that has attended one of Eric's and Susana's Jamborees at Lake Arrowhead knows what I'm talking about).
I was deep into my Relaxation, Sensitization, Personal Inventory preparation (one of Eric's foundation preparation processes an actor must work through to get ready to get ready) when Susana, while walking around observing the actors, and knowing just what to say to help us relax and move past our self-imposed obstacles, said, not necessarily to me, but in general, but she was standing over me when she said it so I thought it was directed right at me, she said,
"THAT WHICH YOU FEAR THE MOST
IS THE SOURCE OF YOUR TALENT"
I heard it and it pierced my heart. No, it was deeper than that. It pierced my entire soul, down to my cells - I don't know the right scientific words, but whatever is the smallest part of our body that fires off electrical impulses, that's where her words hit me - and I was jolted into an upright position. I looked at Susana and said, "Susana, can you please that again?" She looked down at me through her black rimmed glasses and said, "THAT WHICH YOU FEAR THE MOST IS THE SOURCE OF YOUR TALENT."
I broke down. I could not stop my tears. My entire body was vibrating because for the first time in more than 30 years of studying this beautiful craft of acting, I finally had clarity and understood one simple sentence that sums up every missed moment, every second of self-doubt, every moment of brilliant inspiration, and every impulse whether acted upon or suppressed. It was so simple. I found my missing mantra: "THAT WHICH YOU FEAR THE MOST IS THE SOURCE OF YOUR TALENT."
Of course, I know I knew this and have heard versions of this same message over the years from other teachers and from fellow actors, but I never let it penetrate me like it did when Susana said it to me that morning. I was finally at a place in my life where I was open to receive it and here is what it means to me - and of course, you should think about this too and figure out what it means to you. For me, it means:
If I have an impulse to do something and don't act upon that impulse, I am denying my truth and suppressing my talent.
If I am afraid or embarrassed to say or do something out of fear of what others will say or think about me, I am denying my truth and suppressing my talent.
If my body tells me to jump, but my head tells me to think twice, I must listen to my body, for if I don’t, I am denying my truth and suppressing my talent.
I must become an emotional Firefighter and bravely charge into the emotional chaos of my current and past personal life events instead of closing the door to keep myself safe.
I must say what I feel, do what my impulses tell me to do, trust my instincts, and expose my most true self every moment on stage or in front of the camera.
I must welcome the dark places, the bad thoughts, and I must be brave enough to accept how they make me and my scene partner feel and respond, and I must take responsibility and own the outcome of my actions. And I must be ok with all of that.
Because if I'm not and I don't...if I suppress any impulse while rehearsing or performing, because I'm afraid of how I'll look to others or what others will think of me or if I think I'm not good enough to take bold chances on stage or in front of the camera, I may as well shut it all down now and go live in an abandoned cabin deep in the woods by myself and hide away for the rest of my life.
I know that Susana did not intend for her passing comment to rock my world, but it did and thankfully, that's what master teachers do sometimes; they say just the right thing at just the right moment when you're ready to receive it and finally understand it. I thanked her for the gift and like only Susana can, she said in her beautiful Argentinian accent, “¡Ay, qué lindo!”
I am a better man and for sure, a better actor for having been taught by Susana Morris. If you have the ability to study with Susana and of course with Eric, you should. And like I said, I know I will write many blogs on my experience learning from Eric, but for now, this one will stay focused on honoring a woman who unknowingly changed my outlook on acting and on life.
Here's some information about Susan Morris and her technique First Impressions.
Biography: Susana Morris has been coaching actors for T.V. and Movies since 1990 as well as teaching the Eric Morris System of acting for the past 18 years. Susana created the exclusive Intensive Course offered by invitation only. The Intensive Course is by far the most extensive class teaching the Eric Morris system today. Susana is an expert on bringing scenes and monologues to life using her own exclusive approach “First Impressions”. This groundbreaking approach has been embraced by hundreds of actors in class, auditions, on stage and on film and movies around the country and the world! She is writing her much anticipated first book “The Universe Within”. She shares her life, love, and passion with her beloved husband Eric Morris.
Website: https://ericmorris.com/susana-morris-biography/ iActingStudios: https://www.iactingstudios.com/classes#/class/759 "First Impressions" Promo Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=hHW-7X_hA_s&feature=emb_logo
I hope this post has inspired you in some small way. I look forward to reading your comments. Bye for now, See you inside the Toolbox. Email: email@example.com Website: www.actorsapproach.com Linktree: https://linktr.ee/actorsapproachcrafttoolbox