Back when I was still working at the BBC but taking more and more time off to pursue various acting projects, I heard about a new acting method called PEM – the Perdekamp Emotional Method – developed by the German director and playwright Stephan Perdekamp.
I was intrigued as to what it was about and after a little research thought it might be something to pursue. However, every time I signed up to a workshop, something would come up to prevent me from going. It became ridiculous, especially as on one occasion I actually got there, to the exact street where it was happening, but then couldn’t find the building. I started to think it wasn’t meant to be.
Fast forward a few years and my agent, Lennie, put out a note to all her clients saying that as part of our training and development she was arranging a PEM workshop to give us a taster of this new method in accessing emotion. I signed up immediately!
I don’t really know what I was expecting but when I turned up and heard in the introduction that this method is based on a “bio-energetic process that involves accessing individual emotions from our various body organs”, I was more than a bit sceptical. But blow me, after trying it out, it works! It really does.
In that first taster session we covered aggression, happiness, grief and lust. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to suddenly experience these states so immediately without the need for relevant personal memories or thoughts. I loved it.
And then, to top off what was a very enlightening and enjoyable afternoon, Lennie called me later to say that PEM wanted to offer me a scholarship to study it further. I was delighted and of course, said yes immediately.
Soon after that, I had a casting for a film, and the director said she wanted me to relate, in character, a story of happiness then anger and then sorrow. For some bizarre reason, as I’d only experienced that very short session, I thought I’d give PEM a go to see if it worked and sure enough, it did! I switched to each emotion without any effort and when I finished the scene in tears, I looked up to see the director in tears too. She said it was amazing and although I often never really know what directors at auditions truly think, I knew that this one meant it. I felt so empowered, and I was able to do all that after just one short session. Oh, and earlier this week, I heard I’ve got a callback for that part!!
I couldn’t wait to start for real and last week, I had my first class. It was a one-on-on session with Sarah Victoria, a fantastic acting coach who is head of the PEM international office and who trained directly with Stephan Perdekamp himself.
It was very full-on and we went back over what we covered in the taster session but in a lot more detail. I experienced the most intense emotion but what was amazing was that where I’ve had to do a grief-filled scene before, I have felt drained and flat for a quite a while afterwards but with this method, Sarah showed me how to literally switch it off immediately afterwards.
I am so fascinated by this how this simple and effective method can create such emotional depth. It offers so many possibilities and I just can’t wait to put it to practical use again.
As part of my scholarship, I have agreed to document my progress and I intend to do that as honestly as possible for my own benefit but also for anyone else who might be interested in finding out more about this remarkable way of bringing actors out of their heads and into their bodies so that they can pass from one emotion to another without the mental attachment that normally is required.
So, from time to time here on the blog, I will write about what I have learned in the training and how I’ve been able to use it. After all, it’s set to be a big part of my great adventure that has been…..Life After The Beeb
(for more information, go to http://www.pem-acting.com/english/about-pem)