Friday, June 23, 2006

ON ACTING: Nouns/Verbs; Adjectives/Adverbs; Vowels/Consonants

An actor might consider viewing dialogue in the following way: noun and verbs are the active components in a sentence. They define who/what is doing what to whom. They are plot; and propel story. For example: "The girl (noun) went (verb) to the store (noun)."

Adjectives and adverbs on the other hand are the modifiers; they emotionally qualify the noun/verb activity: they denote what the speaker feels about the nouns and verbs, the meaning inherent in 'who is doing what to whom'. They define and underscore the feelings inherent in character and context. For example: The girl went to the store' now becomes "the beautiful (adjective), ravishing (adjective) girl went happily (adverb) and eagerly (adverb) to the huge (adjective), expensive (adjective) store."

So if an actor wants to discover the emotional essence of a scene, s/he is advised to emphasize adjectives and adverbs in the dialogue: "...beautiful;...ravishing; ...happily; ...eagerly;...huge;...expensive."

Moreover, to plumet the emotional essence of those words even further when emphasizing those adjectival/adverbial words, emphasize the vowels within them. Vowels (a,e,i,o,u) can be compared to consonants (the other 21 letters of the alphabet), as adjectives/adverbs can be compared to nouns and verbs: vowels become the emotional component of a word, the feeling elements encased in a word by the consonants.

Singers love vowels. One of the reasons so much great opera is written in Italian is because the Italian language gives great emphasis to vowels. Listen sometime to someone speaking in Italian. You will hear how Italian speakers often (always?) find it difficult to end any spoken words or sentences on a harsh, definitive consonant sounds. There always seems to be at the end of a phrase or sentence a final expulsion of air that sounds very much like another vowel (more feeling) ready to come out!

So actors: to drive a story plot (and its dialogue) highlight nouns and verbs; to expand upon the story plot and underline its emotional essence use the adjectives and adverbs (and the vowels within them).


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