This is my understanding and some explanation on “Primary states of being”, which I learned from my Voice (acting through voice) Coach Lopa Sircar.
As people, we oscillate between the positive and negative states of beings. You usually have more than one primary states of being at the same time.
As the actor you have to explore all of them for your character. In a scene, one primary state of being will dominate, though all of the primary states are always in play. If you settle on just one primary state, then your character will lack the full depth that s/he has. Sometimes the conflict within is between two (or more) primary states of being. So, explore.
These are the few primary states of beings:
|Positive Swing||Primary state of being||Negative Swing|
|I am loved||I want to be loved||I am not loved|
|I love||I want to love||I do not love|
|I am understood||I want to be understood||I am not understood|
|Everything is right||I want everything to be right (fair, etc.)||Nothing is right|
|I am ascending||I want to ascend||I am becoming stupid|
|I am safe||I want to be safe||I am afraid, in danger|
|I am beautiful||I want to be beautiful||I am ugly|
|I am seen||I want to be seen||I am invisible|
|I am important||I want to be important||I am unknown|
For e.g.: Lets take “I am loved” and “I am not loved” states. The primary state of being is “I want to be loved”. Whatever action you take, or don’t take; either swings you to “I am loved” or “I am not loved” states.
The way to reach your character’s primary state of being is to ask “why does that matter”. Keep asking questions to every answer you can come up with. At some point, your answer will loop in itself as it’s question. That’s when you know you reached your primary state of being.
Note: As your character, you do not know your primary states of being, but as the actor you can find the depth for your character and what motivates them to do whatever it is they do.