Wednesday, May 11, 2011

ON ACTING: Right Choices

Actors agonize about making the right emotional choice in a scene. Is there a right choice? What is the right choice at any particular moment of a character's life? Am I making the right choice for the moment?

There are some major criteria (or at least considerations) that I offer for making a right choice at any moment in a performance:

(1) Is the moment you choose logical to life? (Remember, in acting, your are creating something that the audience must, at some level of their awareness, finds identifiable to themselves. Otherwise they wont be moved by your performance. If the moment you create is beyond the realm of human possibility (the logic of life), the audience will be repelled rather than drawn in.

SO...if the choice the actor makes is logical to life, can it be "righter"?!

(2) Is the moment chosen not only consistent to life, but also consistent to the to character's life? This is, is the emotional and behavioral choices of the actor consistent with the kinds of feelings and actions such a person as drwn in the script would be likely to feel. For example, if you are playimg a nun, would your choice of feeling and outer behavior be consistent with the widest range of logical possibilities of "nun-like" behavior, at least as that nun is drawn in the actions and dialogue of the script? If it is not, if the choice is outside the boundaries of feeling and behavioral possibilities of the scripted "nun-like" behavior, the audience will reject the performance as "illogical" to context and character, and hence, unidentifiable.

(3) Is the actor's choice of feeling and behavior, while always logical to life and character as scripted, the actor must next ask: are the choices--even within those logical parameters--also intense, varied and complex; i.e., are the choices exciting? And be exciting, I mean revealing of the deepest, most engaging and perhaps even unexpected, aspects of possible "nun-like" behavior...while still logical to life and character within the script?

(4) Is the actor up to the task: can the actor execute that choice in performance with emotional honesty and behavioral ease (i.e., not let the "acting" show)?

(5) Is the actor willing, in performance, to allow the choices to be altered by the unavoidable spontaneity that a powerful and audience-identifiable performance creates. "You can prepare for a game (make choices), but the reality of the game will ultimately determine your final performance."

So...a right choice is (1) logical to life, (2) logical to the character's scripted life, (3) logical to the desire/demand for performance excitingness, (4) within the actor's capability to execute with honesty and truth, and ultimately (5) allowed to be spontaneaously generated in performance.


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