The Relation of Text to Sub-text.
"Explaining a Confusion "
The relationship between text and sub-text is an on-going area of confusion for the actor. It’s confusing for a number of reasons –
REHEARSAL ROOM VIEW.
If the ‘theme’ is the sub-text, the text must be the ‘plot’ or the ‘story’.
for YOUR CHARACTER
The Rehearsal Room defines that ‘real story’ as – ‘what is unfolding between the characters in the scene while they are saying the dialogue’.
When thinking about ‘the story’ (that is revealed by the scene) it is useful to think about describing the conversation that is unfolding between the characters. If we describe the conversation we are actually focusing on what the real point of an exchange is rather than the content of dialogue. Two people may be discussing the football but what is really going on could be described, for example, as … “one character is trying to seduce another character who is resisting this attempt at seduction.” What the director wants to get plainly on the screen is the seduction. The topic of conversation might be ‘football’ but the real story relates to what is unfolding while they are talking. This story or conversation is a ‘test’ to explore the possibility of a successful seduction.
THIS IS THE CHARACTER’S CONSCIOUS REASON FOR HOLDING THE CONVERSATION. It is the main focus of the choices that the character makes. Any other consideration will be SECONDARY to this primary goal.
All those conscious choices are the TEXT.
So, where does the character’s subtext come from?
A MAJOR contributor to the character’s nature in Rehearsal Room process is the character’s ‘need’ or ‘unconscious psychological desire’. It is a really practical way of creating behavioural patterns in the character. This is the element that brings a sub-text to the character’s choices. It relates solely to the character’s hidden or unconscious desires. To maintain a believable complexity it must always stay in the area of unconscious thought. If it moves into the area of conscious thought the performance will cease to be complex and believable because there will no longer be an unconscious element at work in the character’s decision making process.
That is why it is essential that character’s ‘need’ should NEVER interfer with the conscious thought process. That is why ‘need’ should NEVER affect the story outcome. We will always logically and consciously pursue our story goal despite our unconscious desire. The element that drives the story or ‘the reason for the conversation’ is conscious thought – logical thought. The ‘need’ will only ever affect the way we might go about our conversation goal IT WILL NEVER CHANGE IT.
That is why we say that ‘need’ should be ‘known’ but never ‘shown’.
And the character’s ‘need’ is never going to change the course of a conversation.
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