Tuesday, December 08, 2009

ON ACTING: Every Scene is Personal

Every scene should be personally important to the actor, as well as to the actor-as-character. As a method of inducing personal importance in a scene, Uta Hagen suggested the device of substitution. The more personal the actor can make the scene, the more the scene is about him and his life, about his reactions to that life, the more important the scene becomes; and the deeper and more identifiable the emotions the actor will feel and reveal in performance.

The actor might well ask when handed a new scene to play: “What important emotional event in my life do you want me to re-live in this scene?”

An actor should inquire of any scene: what is the personal importance of this character, this scene to me, to my life, to my set of convictions? How can I identify my life with the characters? What do the character and I have in common; if not on the topical surface event of the scene, perhaps then in some analogous, metaphorical emotionally experiential way? Have I experienced emotions similar to what I think the character will go through?

And when that emotional identity, whether factual or analogous, occurs between actor and character, the character will no longer be isolated from the actor and his/her concerns; the character’s concerns and the actor's concerns are now one. And the scene and performance will be more exciting to perform and watch.


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