What I bring back from my African trip is a Swahili phrase that I heard over and over – “Polé, Polé (slowly, slowly)”. The biggest overall adjustment that I find myself giving actors is urging them to slow down (while they are talking, not before talking –i.e, going into their heads before responding). When we are not rushing to get through the scene, you actually have to time to savor what is happening – bringing nuance to the proceedings (this doesn’t necessarily apply to sit-coms). Often, it feels like the actor just wants to get through the scene so that he can book the role so he can get through the scene so he can move on to the next one, rinse and repeat.
After the dusty, dry safari of Tanzania; we treated ourselves to a resort in Zanzibar. Upon arrival, we jumped into the bathwater-warm transparent waters by the hotel. The next day we woke up and the tide had pulled out over a mile, leaving where we had been swimming just 8 hours prior – walk-able. After getting our shoes, our guide showed us the sharp coral and thousands of spiky sea urchins lurking everywhere (but no uni on the restaurants menu – drats!), Polé, polé. In order to have our “marine safari”, our guide constantly reminded us “Polé, polé (Slowly, slowly)”. In slowing us down, we were able to see the starfish and sponges, squid and clownfish, clams and crabs swimming in the shallow tide pools at our feet. By taking our time, we had a “walking-snorkel” that I’ll never forget. We arrived at the same place, but had no injuries and another once-in-a-lifetime memory. The gift is in the journey.