Sunday, June 03, 2007

ON ACTING: Issuing Expletives and Exclamations

The script reads: "Wow!" Or: "My God!" Or: "Yep!" Or: "Damn!" "Or: "Great!" Or: "Shit!" These singular words of dialogue, monosyllabic in form, are all sudden bursts of feelings, brief explosions of emotion. And they are some of the most difficult lines of dialogue to act honestly and really, and avoid fake or bad acting.

Such brief, generally isolated pieces of dialogue require almost instantaneous deep real feeling from the actor, without a rolling performance start; their expression bursts into the moment of the scene, like an athlete performing a standing vertical leap, or a drag car going from zero to sixty in a fraction of a second. How does an actor achieve this requirement of acting pyrotechnics and still obey the dictates of honest acting?

One: the actor is emotionally wonderfully (emphasis on the 'fully') prepared before the scene and especially the required moment, to be a bubbling cauldron of feeling, capable of being stimulated by the previous line of dialogue or physical action of the moment into manifesting a burst of feeling commensurate with the essential nature of the required exclamation or expletive.

Or, two (a brief trick, or performance adjustment, if you will): if the actor is not that sufficiently emotionally volatile to proclaim those expletives or exclamations with great full honest real feeling, may I suggest the actor add an element of stunned or shocked or confused to the other more specific emotion underlying the required expletive or exclamation. By adding those additional (and softening) elements, it will take the edge off the burst-requirement, ease the resultant expression--and most importantly, keep the expletive or exclamation honestly withing the realm of true and real feeling. Such an adjustment is like advising the actor to walk into a darkened room more carefully and slowly; it aids the actor in avoiding bumping too severely into the furniture of bad- and over-acting.


Blogger Myles said...

I will not forget the trick, thanks for that one Cliff, but i want to learn how to go from zero to sixty in a fraction of a second! yep!

2:12 AM  

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