Sense memory is a technique developed by Konstantin Stanislavski and lee Lee Strasberg where one can access their subconscious memory to bring mood, feeling, and emotional truth to their work without going to place that emotionally you don’t really need to go to to bring to your acting.
In it we remember people, places, or objects – not emotional events. By simply working on a person place or object, the subconscious will give you feelings, moods, and emotions related to that person place or object. The subconscious world will give you the rest.
Ideally, it takes 4 weeks to 12 weeks for your subconscious to become your teacher. Sal is just there to guide along. Sal believes that your subconscious knows how to train you better than he does and better than you do, for that matter. Once it gets the message and realizes that, ‘Oh, ok. This is an acting exercise’ it takes over . . . . That’s what it sense memory all about.
How does it apply? Does it help me find a character or learn to embody a character?
Both. You have a database (people,places, objects) of things that will give you moods. Or environmental conditions called ‘overalls’. Hot, cold, stoned, drunk, flu, pain, etc. Al of which are a part of our muscle memory. What we are doing with sense memory is accessing muscle memory. That’s why relaxation is such a critical part of the work. You have to be able to relax in order to access what is really going on in those muscles – and tap into the feelings that are stored there.
The same applies to overall memories. So, if we need to play a scene a little tipsy we don’t have to play it. we can access it.
The wonderful about the work (emotional, physical, mood, overall) is that eventually you will learn how to turn it on and turn it off. If you can’t turn it off – you can’t use it for your acting. If it is more emotion that you should be handling – you can’t use it for your acting. You have to play it. Like a violin. And play the level of drunk (emotion) the scene requires. So that you are controlling it – not you. In sense memory, you must learn to master you thinking so you can master your feelings.
What do we work on in class?
Sense memory work only uses the senses: What do I see? What do I hear? What do I taste? What do I feel? It is based on recall and work with people, places, objects, that go back at least 7 years into our past to keep from manipulating our memories with the conscious mind.
For instance, if I was working on my 2nd grade teacher I would ask myself, Can I see her hair? The dress she is wearing? The chain on her glasses? Can I hear the sound of her voice? The sounds around her? The necklace that she is wearing? What is the room like? And keep doing so until it becomes a mantra where I am so into the mundaneness of what I see, taste, touch, and smell that the memories of who I was as a seven year old boy in her presence starts to come – and that brings the mood/the feeling of that time with it.
Do we do these exercises up on stage while everybody watches or together?
Everybody does it individually at the same time. Everybody is working on what they are working on (first flu, first apartment, car, etc). Nobody knows what anybody else is working on. If you are sitting in the corner sobbing – chances are you are working on a person but Sal does not need to know. It is not his business. And he doesn’t need to know in order for it to work. You’re relearning how to take care of you. And need no guru other than your own subconscious.
Are there prerequisites?
No. Anyone can enroll. In fact, we have had many different writers, painters, directors, some sculptors, and painters who have taken the class to enhance what they are doing in their own particular art form to great and inspiring effect.
How do I enroll?
You have to have meet and have coffee with Sal. Just send an email to set up an appointment or give us a call.
After you guys meet the next step is to come an audit a class. Which is free. If all the pieces make sense and it looks like a good match for everybody involved you sign up.
You can view the cost of classes and weekly schedule here.
Why coffee with Sal?
This is so that he can interview you and you Sal. The two of you will sit for 30 minutes where Sal can learn more about your hopes, ambitions, desires, and background so it doesn’t take 4-5 months to figure out who you are to know how to teach you. As an individual.
What works for one individual is not the same for another. Sal’s job is to communicate with you. If he understands how you understand things – it makes the process easier. Instead of expecting you to learn his way.