Frequently Asked Questions
Historically the problem of working with emotions in acting was the lack of knowledge of how to access them directly so the attempts to create emotion were often called unpredictable, stale or wooden. A contributing aspect is that in most societies emotions were traditionally recognised only when they erupted, failed or were chronically suppressed. This has given emotions a negative connotation.
PEM, however, defines emotions biologically as innate, holistic muscle movement patterns (‘movement software of the body’), each with a specific function. (Observation bears out that mammals have emotions, which invites the conclusion that emotions exist prior to cognition)
Through significant trial and experimentation – over twenty years and with thousands of actors and non-actors – PEM was developed into a logical system of working with emotion to a very fine, subtle and precise degree. Therefore, in our experience, all the negative and commonly held beliefs about emotion are no longer an issue. PEM enables you to use emotions on demand, powerfully, reliably and repeatedly.
Those in other arts would consider that question a little odd. Being able to repeat is the essential element of most performing arts. Through an alive and aware repetition true depth and subtlety of craft becomes available. This depth and subtlety is what we most often call art. We define emotion as an essential art of our physical system. When we throw a stick for a dog it fetches it again and again without loss of energy and often in the same way – nobody would expect the dog’s behaviour to become stale. This question only arises in acting because we have not had a dependable way to repeat something with the same energy and aliveness as we can in everyday life. Since PEM operates on the electricity of the nervous system to access emotions, we have seen countless performances repeated over and over again, with exactness and detail. And every performance is as alive as the first one.
It is true, older approaches to acting usually cover only certain aspects of the craft. Actors have become used to collecting different approaches for acting, body work, voice work and often techniques unrelated to acting (Tai Chi, Yoga etc.) to fill up their ‘tool box’ and to find a mix of different approaches that help them deliver.
However, PEM was developed by isolating the biological principals of human behaviour and communication. Emotions, as the ‘biological movement software’, are the driving impulses of all of our actions – and most of our thoughts. PEM was designed to use these discovered biological principals as the base for all technical aspects of acting: body-work, breathing/voice/singing, articulation, character development, improvisation, monologue/scene work, dance and even stage combat. Every exercise, technique and aspect of PEM deepens, highlights and complements every other exercise, technique and aspect of PEM and subsequently produces a fully trained actor who can perform and cooperate at the highest levels of the industry. As the actor does not need to go outside of PEM to complete their acting training, we are happy therefore to call PEM a complete acting method and why we take three years to train our actors.
Yes. A comprehensive study was undertaken by the Austrian Ministry that proves that PEMs triggers evoke authentic emotions.
We feel quite proud having the distinction of being one of the very few (if only) acting methods that seems to require, and still passes, the burden of scientific proof.
PEM is a relatively new method, beginning only 20 years ago. For much of that time it has been establishing the PEM Center in Hamburg Germany, and now recently PEM Studios Melbourne in Australia.
International workshops only began in 2012, so it is possible a workshop hasn’t been held in your country.
In regards to the limited online and written resources, PEM is a physical method. In order to understand it, it must be experienced in the body first, before referring to written materials.
We do this so as to avoid those who would claim they can teach it without the training and knowledge it requires and to ensure the quality and integrity of the craft.