This blog post is for all the actors I know, as well as all the actors who have never had the pleasure of listening to me reprimand them. In other words, this blog post is for every actor in existence and all those to come in the future until the end of time. That means you too, Meryl Streep!
As you may know, I've seen a lot of stage plays in my lifetime, and I've worked on a number of plays as well. As you may also know, I love and respect you, actors. You bring my characters (and other playwrights' characters) to life, and you tend to be good company, even as I fight you to be the center of attention. But there's one thing that I've seen you do that happens to be my greatest actor pet peeve. And you have to stop it. Now. Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself! STOP HITTING YOURSELF!
First of all, this post is not meant to shame you or make you feel bad. Hell, the few times I've acted in a play, I've been guilty of this very thing. I am trying to help you.
In an given scene in a play, in moments of emphasis, you will sometimes slap the side of your own leg or strike your palm somewhere on your body."Sally, don't you dare go out that DOOR!" Slap. "Mike, don't tell me what to DO!" Slap. And it's not just stage actors. I see it in movies and television shows too.
This is one of those things that once you're made aware of it you're going to start seeing it a lot. And you'll be amazed that nobody else really notices or cares and that nobody has ever told those actors to stop it. (Directors, where are you?!) It's highly distracting. It pulls me out of the performance and the play. (Or film or TV show.)
Actors, act with your voice and your face. And certainly act with your body, but please be more aware of your hands. I don't know what you're supposed to do with them. I'm not a director or an acting coach. Just stop hitting yourself!