Chapter 01: The Name of the Game is Game Hen

I am pleased you have chosen to pursue acting as your career. In no other profession can you be acting and get away with acting at the same time, if you follow me. That’s the game.

Our first foray into the world of the dramatic arts is to explore the mind of a Cornish game hen. I want you to put yourself into the shoes, claws, of that game hen — trapped, fat, unable to fly. All you can do is fulfill your destiny as dinner in some statesman’s belly. Or is it? Do you see? That is acting!

To claim and possess the characteristics of another is to take a step into a larger world. Did you see what the game hen saw? Feel what it felt? Process the fear and uncertainty? The first time I played the role of King Richard II for the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Co. (Company)) in front of a preview audience, I reached the monologue in Act V, Scene V bursting with fear and uncertainty. Would I remember all the words? Could I serve as a medium for England’s delicate king? Would it ever lead to a starring role in a series on the BBC? Yes, King Richard II’s voice called out to me from beyond the void, Yes you will, and you will also do it, and it shall be glorious, and you are doing it now, and the BBC. And that disembodied voice was right. I was a game hen.

We are not unlike the game hen in our ability to feel pain. It is this pain that will be our guide in controlling our actor’s instincts. When we embody the game hen, our untrained instincts are very much like other smaller game hens, running around, mucking about, trying to flap their wings like fools. You must control your hens. You, the hen, must control your other hens. You are their mother, and they are other hens. Control them. With your training.