Sande has developed what she calls the “10 distinctions” – presencing (or the emotional body), situation, livingness…the other seven you’ll have to learn from her. As a list, it may not sound like much, but as a system of acting it has saved me more than once. I was a standby in ‘Triumph of Love,’ and I got thrown on in early previews for Susan Egan. She played four different characters and was always on stage. I kept a piece of paper in the quick-change area (tons of costume changes), and on it I wrote the situation, the intention, and the livingness for that scene. It worked brilliantly and differently…every time I went on.
More than just a tool to keep an actor oriented, the “10 distinctions” rescued me while building a character. I did a beautiful musical called ‘Fermat’s Last Tango”…the first time a part was written for me. I played two roles: a kinky television news reporter, and Euclid. The father of geometry–that Euclid. I could not get a key into that character. It was two weeks into a four-week rehearsal process, we were opening in New York, and I had nothing. I’m trying, and it’s not working, it’s not working. I went back to the first distinction, ’emotional body,’ and I surrendered. And then this obnoxious character comes out and starts making shapes: Look! I’m a triangle! Look! I’m a rhomboid! (A tough one, if you’ve never tried it.) And that became my physical body, Euclid’s search for the perfect shape. Oddly, I got more TV auditions out of that, this huge physical comedy, than I’ve gotten doing delicate work.
There are no limitations to Sande’s technique…it is as applicable to the big picture of life as it is to stage, film and TV. I never go too long without seeing my guru.