Thanksgiving: A sensory-loaded-experience

What sight are you most looking forward to this Thanksgiving? Photo Thinkstock.

By Guy Camilleri

I was asked to write this week’s column about something that turns out to be near and dear to me, Thanksgiving. I’m an enthusiast of this holiday; in fact, it’s my favorite holiday of the year. I’m not too sure why that is, other than the fact that I crave pumpkin pie at the very mention of the word Thanksgiving!

Upon further reflection, I was able to bridge the work I do as an actor and acting coach and relate it to what happens to each of us around this significant holiday, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. For the non-actors, you may not be aware that in large part, actors are working with the five senses when on stage or on-set: Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste, and Touch.

As a working actor and in my acting studio, we work on sensory driven moment-to-moment work. Personally, my approach to building a character relies heavily on these five senses, the text, and my imagination.

What Sight are you most looking forward to this Thanksgiving?

A widely used term to describe this work is, ‘Sense Memory’ which involves reliving sensations previously experienced through the use of the five senses. I like to focus on the re-experience, not just merely remembering the event, person, place or thing.

What Sound(s) reminds you of Thanksgiving?

Once you have had an experience, and recreate it through the senses to react truthfully to what is happening at the moment, it becomes an experienced-experience. This experienced-experience can be replicated over and over, or at the very least, every 3rd week of November!

What Thanksgiving Smell are you reliving as you read this? 

Tapping into your real-life experiences in service to the given circumstances in a play or screenplay can make for a very satisfying, personal and sensual experience that nobody can take away from you as it now lives within you on a cellular level.

What are you most excited about to Taste first as you load up your plate?

On Thanksgiving Day, I love the sight of my hometown of Cocoa Beach, the neighborhood I grew up in; the beach, the sunrise over the ocean, family, friends, and that freshly baked pumpkin pie on the counter! Then, there is the sound of familiar voices, the conversations, laughter, arguments, the bickering, music, children, pets, and football on the television; the smell of turkey, yams, stuffing, herbs, spices, fresh vegetables, and flowers.

And finally, after what seems like an eternity, the tasting of all the bountiful food (made with extraordinary love), and the cocktails, the wine, and apple cider.

Who will be the first person you will Touch this Thanksgiving?

And now, in my opinion, the most potent sense of them all… the touch, the long-awaited hugging, and holding of those I love; the expression of gratitude to everyone and everything that has touched me thus far in my life; to revel in the heartland of profound love and appreciation for this experience.

Venice-based acting coach Guy Camilleri.

Guy Camilleri is a Venice-based actor, acting coach, and poet. He teaches regular classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings at the Electric Lodge, in Venice. His private coaching specializes in audition preparation, self-taped auditions, original reels and career consultation. To audit a class and book a coaching session, email [email protected] Follow Guy on Instagram @guycamilleri and Facebook.