All of us actors need to create a process for breaking down and rehearsing our scenes, whether for class or for bookings.
Class gives us the freedom to experiment and edit this process, so I want to share part of mine thanks to the teaching of my acting coaches at the Film Actors' Studio Charlotte.
In this post, I'll teach you a rehearsal exercise I use that allows me to perform my script in a number of different ways to avoid giving a "one note" performance.
But first we need to prepare based on how you've been trained.
TACTICS OR STRATEGIES
If you're a student of the Stanislavski method, then you've learned how to use tactics to reach your objective. This is what I learned in college.
My current training teaches me how to use strategies.
To make this exercise work, you'll need to decide if you want to use tactics or strategies. The difference is simple: tactics are action verbs, strategies are adverbs ending in -ly.
Either way, make sure they focus on your scene partner, not on you.
PS--I think you should know how to use both so that you can easily translate a director's notes into your favorite method, especially if they're discussing the scene with you in terms of a method you don't like using as much.
PICK THREE OPTIONS
Ok you've read your script, picked an objective, and broken your script into beats.
Now pick either three tactics or three strategies based on your method.
I'll give you examples of each to get you started.
Just make sure they actually help you reach your objective. I'm writing this assuming you already know what that is.
Also, do not try to mix tactics and strategies. Pick your favorite and stick with it.
USING YOUR OPTIONS
Now I know I said this exercise will help you avoid a "one note" performance, so this next part may seem confusing at first, but go with it.
Take just one of your options and use it for the entire script. Wash, rinse, and repeat with your second option, then your third.
You'll need to ignore your beat marks for this part.
The benefit is that it will force you to say lines in a way you haven't planned.
Maybe you don't think to say, "I love you," angrily when you first read your script, but after forcing yourself to in this exercise, a new meaning surfaces and you have a revelation about why that could work.
Forget about the way a line "should" be said.
You'll soon realize that a number of options can work for each line, and you'll feel the freedom to take the scene anywhere you want it to go in case a director ever says to you, "Do something different."
Now let's get to avoiding a "one note" performance.
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
Let's get back to those scene beats.
Now you'll run your scene two more times, using all three options.
First, plugin one option for each of your beat changes, even if they repeat.
Second, don't plan which options you're going to use, but rather let them surface as they choose now that they're "in your system."
Third, if you really want to get crazy, scratch all three of your original options, and pick three new ones and run the exercise again.
This is how you'll avoid ever giving a "one note" performance: you'll have a variety of notes to choose from since you've said every line of your script differently each time.
If you want a quick and easy way to try this exercise, then pick just one line from your script to say three different ways.
You can also take the tactics/strategies listed above and try them on each of the one liners below. Think about someone you know or your scene partner:
Lastly, while I think acting class is crucial to the longevity of your career, so is marketing yourself effectively.
Imagine that you're one of the few actors who gets their mail opened by casting directors. Learn how to make that happen by writing kick-butt thank you cards.
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If you continue to ignore the business and marketing side of acting, it won't just go away. Your personal brand is the foundation of your acting business. Start building your personal brand package today. Read my post Personal Branding Brainstorm for Actors to learn more.