The Rock Method

The Lord is my rock… Psalm 18:2

Actors often go to great lengths to create realistic portrayals We all work to find what “tricks” we can play on ourselves to get a nuanced performance. I believe I recall an anecdote from Lee Strasburg’s studio, where an actor suggested he put a stone in one shoe to affect his performance somehow. It apparently helped a great deal, which led to a lengthy discussion of whether he should use one stone or two.

In the movie “Marathon Man,” Dustin Hoffman had a scene with Lawrence Olivier which was supposed to happen after Hoffman’s character had been up all night. Being a method actor, he stayed up all night so he would be exhausted and give a truly nuanced portrayal of an exhausted man. The story goes that an immaculate, refreshed Olivier walked onto the set in the morning and saw the bedraggled Hoffman. As he passed Hoffman en route to his trailer he said, “My dear boy! You really should try acting. It is ever so much easier.”

One director, in order to get a more impatient attitude out of one actress whose character was leaving her boyfriend made a simple suggestion. Hed told her to just fix in her mind the idea that there’s a cab waiting to take her to the airport, and the meter’s running. She suddenly acquired all of the minute details of behavior of someone who is quite uncomfortable in the room. She made one decision instead of a multitude.

The last example is what I decided to call the Rock Method of acting. Suppose you have a stream of water. Instead of flowing in a straight course, you want all sorts of eddies and patterns in the flow. You could create some very complex system of obstructions in the water, one for each tiny piece of the design in your head. Or you could just drop a rock in the stream and watch all of the eddies and backwashes occur as a matter of course. One decision or a multitude?

This works well in real life too. I was asked to come to a modeling school to help coach young modeling hopefuls in relating to a television camera. I walked in on an exercise one of the faculty was running. She was attempting to teach these girls how to enter a car with a dress on, being sure to keep their knees together. Each girl took her turn, sitting onto a folding chair that represented a car seat. Each failed as the teacher kept confusing them with multiple techniques and movements. I asked if I could take a swing at it. Obviously thinking I couldn’t possibly succeed where she had failed, she told me to try, if I could.

I sat cross-legged on the floor about ten feet in front of the chair and cupped my chin in both hands. Staring intently at the seat, I said, “OK, ladies. One at a time.” Giggling, they all got it right in one round. I dropped a rock in their stream. They only had one conscious decision to make, not a multitude.

The United States of America has a boatload of laws. I think we have about enough. We need to stop making so many laws and start looking for the rock to drop into the “stream” of our society. If you read my Fourth of July entry, you might remember the following quote from one of the Founding Fathers:

James McHenry – “[P]ublic utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. Without the Bible, in vain do we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. (emphasis added)
Bibles are strong protections. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience.”

If we stop deluding ourselves that right and wrong are relative and that morality is fluid, we will go a long way toward a more gentle society. The best way to do that is to consult the Author of ethics and morality in His Word. The Bible.

“37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

There you are. The Rock Method, whether you’re seeking a rock for a particular instance or The Rock for your life, your community, and your country.

What do you think? I and other readers want to know!

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2 thoughts on “The Rock Method

  1. Thanks again for another good blog. Missed you and Julie in Bible study. We finished lesson 9 and stopped at Jude 16. Blessing on your week to you all, Barbara Riley

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