Friday, July 07, 2006

ON ACTING: "Taking a Moment"

Some acting teachers and directors often tell an actor to 'take a moment' to consciously cease any outward, overt activity in a scene, to 'pause', as it were before moving on in the order to (generally) indicate to the audience that a meaningful moment is occurring to the character.

There are several dangers in this instruction. (1) No good actor should ever 'indicate' anything. 'To indicate" is false acting. To "indicate" is actor-consciousness-of-character-meaningfulness that most people (and thus most characters) rarely have. It is an attempt to "show" the audience how bright the actor bookending the moment in the scene to underscore the importance of the moment in the scene...Irrespective of the purposes, design, logic and intent of the character. (2) "'Taking a moment', or deciding to pause , is false to life, and hence it is bad, unreal acting. Rarely in life do people in take a moment. Moments, pauses, cessation of purposeful activity is thrust upon them. No one wants to pause. People would rather move expeditiously to success.

So when a director or teachers asks an actor-as-character to stop and think, to 'take a moment'--to pause before moving onto the next physical activity or piece of dialogue, the actor must--as in all other directorial requests--seek to emotionally 'motivate' or 'justify' the request. The good actor does NOT take the moment; they EARN the moment. The good actor puts themselves into such an increased sensitized internal/emotional condition that the prior stimulus forces them to pause, to ponder, consider, evaluate and sort through options before commencing the next overt action. They are forced to pause as a tactical necessity in their goal quest. Pauses are short term prices paid; and only to generate long term benefits.


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