Monday, September 28, 2009

ON ACTING: Reactions

A tip on re-acting, facially or otherwise: the good actor does not wait until the end of the other person’s dialogue to emotionally begin to react. True emotional reaction occurs at various and ever-changing moments during a listener’s and looker’s reception of dialogue.

Although the script may dictate your character is not to say anything until the other character’s dialogue is over, remember this: although your dialogue takes an extended time as it makes its circuitous path from your inner impulse to brain to mouth, your emotional response, and its non-verbal outer manifestations like movement, the look on one’s face, the shift of our stance, the formation of new ideas, etc., occur at different points in the other person’s conversation.

Real emotional reactions begin at all junctures in all conversations. Only the bad actor just stands there with blank face waiting for the end of the other character’s words before reacting to the conversation. The good actor will listen and look, will feel and allow changes in both inner (feelings) and outer (facial, movement, etc.) as they occur emotionally all through conversation, not just when the other character’s dialogue has ended.

Although scripts (and courtesy to other actors who are speaking) may dictate a delay in the verbal response until the other character’s dialogue is over; this does not necessarily mean you should put a feeling response on hold. The complex, fluid multiple leveled reality of stimulus/synapse/response dictates a continuing state of feeling--and non-verbally reacting--during listening and looking.

Remember: the audience is watching both sides of an acting conflict. They know the rhythm of real interactive life, as they know the rhythm of an interactive tennis game: they know each player in a real game is reacting to the other’s approach toward the ball even although the actual return-of-shot (or return of dialogue) does not occur until some time in the future. Good performances occur in this spontaneous reactive and interactive interdependence…or they will be rejected by the audience.


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