"Playing With Emotion"
The Big 'E'
The Rehearsal Room process is clearly defined for a good reason - it produces results. The last Audition Workshop provided clear evidence of this. The process is based on two essential elements. These are that an actor's responsibility in performance is -
If these twin ingredients are delivered then the actors job is done. It may not be done brilliantly or exceptionally or outstandingly but it will definitely be done proficiently. Anyway, who is to say that 'brilliance' was required for the scene. Under most circumstances proficiency is not only quite adequate but exactly what is required. Proficiency by Rehearsal Room standards means the actor is delivering a clear story through active listening and truthful impulse.
which draw on skills that transcend the proficient. The outcome of this is a scene with high dramatic and emotional content. Scenes with this sort of potential attract the attention of the actor for it is generally perceived that these are the scenes that provide the opportunity for the actor's abilities to shine. BEWARE!!
of Performance Problems
To clarify the writers intention, try asking some basic questions -
Why is this scene important in this particular story? (It is probably either a moment of revelation to increase the drama, a turning point or the climax)
What does the writer want the scene to say? (This is an element often ignored by the actor. If the scene has nothing to say then it has no need to be in the story. FIND OUT WHAT THIS ELEMENT IS. This is dealing with the thematic content of the story.)
What actually happens in the scene? (This is dealing with the scene structure. How does it begin? What happens in the middle? How does it end? Is there a turning point?)
These questions are essential to the actor's craft. It is amazing how often they are not explored. If these questions are not examined then no amount of wonderful emotional memory or fantastic impulse work will prevent the actor from looking indulgent and/or amateurish. SO BEWARE!!!
It is not a terribly long scene and as it has such a major outcome it is not immediately clear what the writer's intention might be. Some analysis is required before any acting process can be even considered.
In The Beginning
In this case, when the female points out to the male that he has done something that she doesn't like, it is hard to understand why, instead of exploring the problem and endeavouring to resolve the tension, he becomes abusive and ends the relationship. If this outcome seems to be extreme and unexplained in the text then the actor needs to find some reasons to motivate the actions which the writer has left unexplained.
Two immediate possibilities present themselves (you may be able to think of others) -
Which of these choices is the right one?
If the whole text is available, the rest of the script might provide that answer. If it is an audition then maybe a phone call would provide the answer or you could go to the production office and ask to read the whole script - or take a punt, make your own choice and be ready to change at the audition if new information becomes available. On some occasions, particularly in television, the inadequacies might be the result of hasty writing - in which case it is probably left to the actor to either discuss it with the producer/director/script department or muddle through as best they can.
On this occasion it was a scene in isolation for the purposes of a workshop. So, what choices are there for the actor?
In addition once these choices have been made the actor can then, with a clear sense of purpose, commence to put in place the foundations of the performance ingredients that will deliver this outcome. Without these choices being made the actor can only make arbitrary choices such as -
The outcome of these types of choices is that the audience sees lots of 'anger', 'crying', 'frustration' and 'walking' - but they never know why they are watching the story and in addition the story will probably be unclear even contradictory or confusing.
UNDERSTANDING THE STORY WHICH IS BEING TOLD IS OF PRIMARY IMPORTANCE FOR THE ACTOR.
If the story is clearly told and the listening functioning well, then emotional connections can be comfortably explored provided that they are still guided by the character's "need". BUT BEWARE, too much emphasis on the Big 'E' can destabilize the essential ingredients.
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