ON ACTING: Properly Increasing Energy in a Scene
Where had the student gone wrong?
In a desire to increase the energy in a scene, an actor must remember that it is not the actor's energy we are desiring to increase in the scene, but the actor-as-character's energy. We want the character to come more alive; not just the actor-as-actor.
When choosing to be more energetic in the scene, a smart actor returns to the basics of life, which are the basics of acting: in life, energy is increased by a more increased emotional involvement in an event, primarily manifested by an increased desire to attain a goal.
Therefore, when an actor is requested by self or director to increase the energy in a scene (or, as a corollary, increase the pace), the actor should not just push their actor-self to be more energetic is the scene, but rather increase his character's commitment to their goal. He should want what the character wants in the scene more intensely; make the character's goal more important.
Then, with this basic 'real life' energy adjustment, the resultant effort will not only have more energy, but also give rise to all the other elements of living character truth: a heightened awareness and sensitivity to others, a greater emotional impact on the actor-as-character throughout the scene, an economy and focus in that energy as it moves through the actor's body and voice...it will create in the actor's performance the total human package, an energetic portrayal not disassociated from overall character reality and truth. The increased energy will result in the total life package in performance, and not be arbitrary, false and off-putting.
The student did the scene again, with the adjustment of increased commitment to the character's objective, and the resultant performance was energetic and exciting...and most importantly, excitingly real.