Do acting and Christianity mix?
Anna McGahan’s account of actor training in her memoir, Metanoia, is eye-opening.
Anna trained in method acting, where performers tap their own experiences to portray characters authentically—if the scene requires tears, you draw on your own sad memories. The toll on actors is significant. “For three years, we trawled through our relatively short histories, digging up our worst memories and pulling off the scabs. The time he abused me. The day she died. The moment he told me he loved me. The memories only worked while they still hurt. A healed wound was of no use to the actor in training. Logic suggested we needed more experiences, new passions, new loves, new injuries. Healthy relationships and supportive friendships would only get us so far” (p.36).
There’s tension between “the Method” and Christian discipleship. It undermines God’s work as described in Psalm 147:3 “He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.” Second, we’re told to offer every part of ourselves as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:13), and not to embrace all sorts of behaviours for the sake of experience.
What can the Christian actor-in-training do? Firm personal boundaries must be set, despite warnings about ‘limiting your range’. Do research into other techniques and where they are taught – method acting isn’t the only game out there!