Method Acting Reference

Sense Memory

Sense memory is re-living sensations that were experienced through the five senses. Strasberg stressed the term re-living and not just remembering. The difference lies between knowing something and truly recreating it. That difference is substantiated by psychology.

You have heard of psychosomatic illnesses and hypochondria. The mind can manifest symptoms and responses from simply believing the body is sick. This true even if the body is not sick. Sense memory exercises are designed to train you to be able to elicit a response from your body by concentrating on stimuli associated with an experience.

Sense memory is using your memory of real objects to create sensory objects on stage. You need a great deal on concentration to create a sensory object. When you can create a sensory object, you can invoke a "real" response. You will be re-living a sensory experience and not demonstrating an experience. From this stimulus that you know isn't real, suddenly all the other false things become real and you start behaving truthfully. The audience will believe the performance is real because the actor believes it is real. Sense memory creates great truth performance, which is the actors "ability to experience".

For example, do you know the smell of movie theatre popcorn? When you think of it, do you recall the last movie you saw in the theatre? Does the memory of the smell help trigger other memories? By concentration on the smell, can you recall other aspects of your trip to the theatre? Does concentrating on the smell remind you of the sights and sounds of the theatre? Do the sense memories you recall help you remember the movie, the date and other details? You have recalled the sense memory of the smell of popcorn to re-live the experience of going to the movies.

Smell is the sense most closely associated with memory. It has been shown that smell helps triggers memory recall. Smells become associated with vivid memories.

You must concentrate on the sensory object and it's stimuli. Do not concentrate on trying to elicit an emotion. Through practice you will learn what sensory objects produce the desired emotional response. Then you must simple devote your focus to produce the sensory object without regard for the emotion. The emotional response will follow naturally.

Again, the choice of the sensory object for a scene is up to you. Ideally, you should choose an object that you have practiced with and you know will provide the appropiate emotional response. If possible, make your choice relevant to the scene as well. The more sensory objects you have practiced, and the more scenes you work, the more skilled you will become. Dozens of scenes are waiting for you to use at You can download them instantly.

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