Sunday, April 29, 2007

ON ACTING: Creating 'Moments'

Create too many moments in a scene and you creates no moments.

'Moments' in a scene or performance are most impacting when (1) they are absolutely necessary, (2) they are emotionally meaningful, (3) they are quintessentially revealing about the character, and through him/her, a truth about life, and (4) and perhaps most importantly, when they are rare. Scarcity creates value. Don't abuse the use of 'moments' by overuse. And remember: 'moments' are just that...momentary.

Excessive moments are trivialized by repetition; they lose their uniqueness and becoming boring. Did you ever have a conversation with someone who pauses and ponders before every line of discourse, as if each statement were a God-like pronouncement? Boring.

A good actor creates a lively performance as a good composer creates a lively musical score: with a judicious use and mixture of half notes, quarter notes, sixteenth notes and eighth notes. I recommend an actor uses only 2 half notes in a scene--those reserved for the scene's most meaningful moments; after that 4 quarter notes for the next most meaningful moments--and the rest of the scene being played in eighth notes and sixteenth notes.

The acting term 'throwing away a line' means precisely that: perform some (most) moments as if they were emotionally relatively unimportant, not fraught with overwhelming significance...tossed on the heap of the relatively casual; so that the few remaining lines (or 'moments') will carry the greater and more meaningful weight.

Rhythmic contrast heightens meaning.


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