Last Modified: 2011-07-16
- These are the facts of the text
- Time of day, location, occupation of the character, et cetera…
- Take the time to list the facts for yourself, then ask questions that will break them open
- If you don’t understand the circumstances, you can’t build the role appropriately or understand the rules of the text. Acting serves the text, and the text gives boundaries to the actor. These boundaries are “the rules” of a particular play. We need the rules to do the work.
- The beat is to acting what the paragraph is to writing…
- a beat is a thematically unified unit of text.
- the beat changes when the subject (textual or subtextual) changes.
- units of text we can further analyze for content and structure.
- point out that a transition exists and must be played between beats.
- what we want our scene partner to do, say, feel or understand.
- relate to the meaning of the scene of the theme of the play.
- The strongest actions have tangible results (“I want him to kiss me”… well, did he or didn’t he?).
- To further the pursuit of an action, and to add resonance, ask yourself “to what end?” (“I want him to kiss me,” but to what end?)
- For an action to be dramatic, it needs a counter-balancing obstacle.
- An obstacle is the thing that prevents you from achieving your action with ease.
- Obstacles can be internal (“I’m too shy to ask him to kiss me”) or external (“Mom won’t leave us alone together”).
- If the action is what you want the other character to do, tactics are how you get the other them to do it.
- Tactics changed based up your success in achieving your actions
- The more difficult the obstacle, the greater the number of tactics.
- Subtext is what you really mean under what you say.
- identifying subtext helps to identify your action (because it’s what you really want).
- the difference between what your character wants and feels at the beginning of the play (or monologue, scene, beat…) and at the end
- help to identify the journey your character takes and allows you to zero in on the exact moment in which they “shift” or “change”… and characters that change are always the most interesting
- Try starting with, try identifying where you character ends, then identify where they began, THEN it’ll be easier to find the moment where the fulcrum shifts from beginning to end
- This is your character’s offstage history, both mentioned in the text and imagined by the actor
- Backstory enriches your understanding of the character and can help to clarify why later choices are made.
- You must be careful to make decisions that support the character as they are written, not as you like them to be written or in such a way that reflects your personal backstory.
- Theme threads are strings of meaning that run through the play
- When you’ve identified five or six theme threads in the text and subtext, write them in order and see if you can think of a category that includes all or most of them. This is a central theme
- Now take the theme back to the text and find several moments that highlight the theme… these are going to be important moments.
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