The Technique of Talent

In my latest book-finding adventure at Book Warehouse in Seaside, OR, I stumbled across the memoir of Inside The Actors Studio by James Lipton (infamously portrayed by Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live) simply called “Inside Inside.”

Within the very first pages of this glimpse at the history and mission of the Actors Studio in New York City, Lipton dispatches a nugget of wisdom that surfaces amongst the packed sea of insights on the creative process (feel free to substitute creative with writing, acting, directing, filming, drawing or photographing for the same impact):

“Stanislavski asserted that talent is inborn, genetic and can’t be taught–but technique can; and the purpose of technique, he insisted, is to free the talent.” (25)

It’s an intriguing thought that talent is trapped within us and needs to be freed. We read throughout the literature of the modern age, that if we simply follow a prescribed method or technique, we can acquire or achieve precisely what we set out to do, even if we don’t have the necessary talent. Can it be true that technique will always trump talent, giving us direct access to our desires, if we only work hard enough or pay enough money?

Talent and technique can never be successfully separated. Without talent, technique will produce mediocrity and further the status quo. Without technique, talent will lie dormant and never bring forth the magic and creativity within. The pursuit of freeing our talent is a daily journey of validating our individual identity and revealing the blatant lie of consumerism that we have bought: “You can buy anything you want, even talent and technique, if you simply have enough money.”

Within that the very battle of talent versus technique lies the beauty of Lipton’s paraphrase of Stanislavski’s assertion of technique unlocking the talent within. It implies that we, as individuals, must first identify the specific talent that lies in wait to be unlocked. Then, and only then, do we search for the specific techniques or exercises that will give freedom to our talent. From there, we work hard to unlock the identified talent, which then gives rise to the expression of our individual identities.

As I will always do, I leave you with a few questions. First, what talent is locked inside of yourself? Second, what identity did you receive from others that may or may not coincide with the talent within? Third, what are you going to do to unlock your innate talent and abilities? And fourth, do you even care if you unlock the talent within or are you comfortable buying whatever you desire through hard work and money?