Saturday, May 15, 2010

ON ACTING: "Discoveries" and "Surprises"

"Discoveries" and "character surprises" are important structural elements in any scene. They are moments of major transition, when the character is forced by facts and stimuli of adversarial life to pause, re-consider, reflecting on newly confronted realities and ramifications of plot.

Moments of discovery and surprise are, by definition, never anticipated. Characters are caught unawares. In this way the idea of a ‘moment to moment’ performance wraps itself around the concepts of discovery and surprise. Discovery and surprise can only happen to the actor-as-character when the actor-as-character is living "moment to moment"; not in anticipation. Anticipation is dramatically antagonistic to discovery/surprise; it is fatally toxic.

Writers call these discoveries and surprises "reversals of fortune". They are really major character transitions in the plot, and exceedingly revealing moments and change (developments) in the character’s life.