CompetencyConcentration / Imagination
Skills DevelopedReacting instinctively to stimuli eliciting real authentic emotions and being present and in the moment
Created ByUnknown

Acting Principles

  1. By taking in as many stimuli from your surroundings as possible and then articulating each of them will help you exercise all your senses and hopefully, make you a more receptive actor


Surroundings is the most straightforward acting exercise you can do alone. As the name suggests, you must feel your “surroundings” using all five of your senses.


To start, find an area where you can sit for as long as you need to complete each step of the exercise. You must close your eyes for the entirety of this exercise until you get to step number 5 (sight). We will go in this order:

1.) Touch
2.) Sound
3.) Smell
4.) Taste
5.) Sight

1.) Touch: To start, select a room or area that you can walk into. Try to feel the texture of the floor under your feet. No need to take off your shoes unless you want to. Try to feel the temperature of the floor under your feet. Does the floor feel cold? Hot? How about the texture? Is the floor slippery? Slick? Rough? Anything you can feel using only your feet (touch) is what you are working towards. Do not answer this question using any other senses.

2.) Sound: Now add the sounds from surroundings to your focus. Discover the sounds around you. It may be the sound of an air conditioner, a fan, wind, or someone talking. Just listen. Do not think about it. Take in any sounds you hear around you and in the distance, if applicable.

3.) Smell: Add in your sense of smell and take in a few deep breaths. First, how is the temperature of the air you’re breathing in? Is the air cold or warm? As you breathe it in, does the air feel dry or moist? Next, what do you smell? Is the room or area you are in fragrant or foul? Do you smell anything specific? Is it good or bad? You should only be using your nose to decide these things. Do not try to use your sight to decide for you.

4.) Taste: This one can be trickier, but please give it a shot. While you take in a deep breath, part your mouth halfway and try to taste the air. It may not taste like anything to you but try and make a mental note of it.

5.) Sight: Now we can add sight into the picture. First, look all around you and observe everything in the room or the area for a good minute. Finally, starting with step 1 (Touch) and working all the way down, recall each step and observe why each had the outcome it did for you. For example, if I felt the floor to be “cool and slick” under my feet, I would observe the floor visually and decide what it is made of and why it felt that way to me. Maybe I see that the floor is made of painted concrete, and I decide that it feels cool and slick because concrete absorbs and releases heat depending on where it’s located. Painting over the concrete would give it a smooth finish. You will do this process for every step; observing with your eyes why the floor felt the way it did when you touched it, observing with your eyes why the room or area sounded the way it did when you listened, observing with your eyes how the room or area’s air felt when you took in your deep breaths and why it smells the way it does and observing with your eyes why the room or area may have tasted the way it did.

Note: This exercise requires practice, but the great thing about it is you can literally do this anytime and in anyplace. If you master this exercise you will be more receptive as an actor, completely in the moment and receive stimuli not only from your scene partners, but from the surroundings as well. And even when something is not right in front of you and a scene calls for it, you’ll have no issue with placing it there because you’ll be so good at using your senses and recalling what you experienced from those stimuli. If you lose focus while doing this exercise, it’s okay. The mind is always thinking and easily distracted. Check your relaxation and then restart the step you’re on. Learning how to recover when you lose focus will serve you well as an actor.

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