Saturday, May 12, 2007

ON ACTING: The Difficulty of Scene (or Script) Analysis

Script analysis is probably the most difficult acting aspect for most students to master. Let me emphasize two central reasons for this. First, the idea of a script itself; it is an incomplete picture. It is only a blueprint of a house and not the house itself; a blueprint of to-be-acted behavior and not a complete picture of the behavior itself.

A script is only a job shorthand; it is a series of to-be-spoken-lines where, like a blueprint, are only dotted outline of one's overall full behavior is proferred; and those dots aren't fully connected. In fact, the final picture--in the case of a script, the full and final realization of human behavior in a performance--can only...must IMAGINED from the dotted lines. And if you haven't built many houses or performed many scripts you are at a distinct disadvantage!

Second: actors are inclined to the world of feeling and not logic...and language--scripted dialogue --is explicitly logical; and only implicitly emotional. Actors are by their nature prone to see only emotional leaves in a script and rarely embrace the whole tree. (And even when they do sees whole trees, they rarely see the overall forest)

Which, in point of fact, is only as it should be: writers are hired to write words (logical discourse); actors are hired to live the emotion that gives rise to and is implicit in the dialogue. Writers create trees and forests; actors create leaves that make them beautiful.

Which brings me back to my point: scene analysis, the understanding of the logical meaning and structure of whole forests (stories) and trees (character) is the most difficult task for most actors.

Let's say I am right. "Well, Doctor, how to I correct for the disease of deficient practice scene analysis?"

My medicine: life analysis...i.e., study the way people (actors: you yourselves) live life in producing everyday dialogue. Actors should spend a great deal of time studying themselves; learning to analyze themselves; being honest (to themselves) about the goals and objectives underlying (their) language. In terms of learning scene analysis, it is a very cheap way (no textbooks to buy; you are your own textbook) to learn to see the strategies and tactics that underlie all human discourse.

To understand life in the blueprints of life called scripted stories and characters...requires the actor artist to know themselves. It is like the old saying: "It takes one to know one." All knowledge proceeds from self-knowledge. An actor's ability to analyze a script will grow in direct proportion to their increase in honest self-recognition.

Because a script is a mirror of human behavior...and the actor must be eager and willing to see themselves in the script's written reflection of their words and deeds. Ultimately, to read and analyse cogently a script or character is to say: "...oh, I know FROM EXPERIENCE (my experience) exactly what's going on when someone says such and such in such and such kind of situation. I can understand...I can identify...I can easily analyze that script!"


Blogger Myles said...

Thanks for this Cliff. You always have a way of describing in detail what we are currently thinking of or going through as an actor.

6:24 PM  

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