A great scene, or monologue always has dynamics. One thing that an audience cannot fail to feel is the shifts and changes in the dynamics of the scene. One thing that an actor can fail to apply to a scene is the shifts and changes in the dynamics of the scene.
I cannot imagine a single scene or monologue that will work effectively for the audience whilst maintaining the same pace, energy, intensity and emotional pitch. And yet frequently actors will discover a particular feel for the scene that they will a) keep at the same level b) increase endlessly like a rocket taking off.
A scene where the dynamic is endlessly high will make it impossible for the audience to understand what is meaningful to them. A scene where the dynamic is flat will make it impossible for the audience to pick out what is meaningful to them.
Changes in dynamic grab the audience’s attention and hold it. A scene without dynamics robs the audience of a focus for their attention.
Quite often actors working on camera are particularly afraid to add these peaks and troughs into their work. They are so keen to be ‘real’ or ‘truthful’ that they won’t conduct the simplest rise and fall in dynamics.
Not every scene needs an explosive ending. Perhaps a character is falling into the depths of depressive despair - but the depths of their despair will be intense. And we want to see them ‘fall’, meaning they have to go FROM somewhere TO somewhere with that emotional fall.
Study a monologue or a scene and you will see that the characters are different people from the beginning to the end of even a single scene. A scene is a story of change. Discovering what causes that change is one part of understanding the scene. But the other is how that change appears in the characters. These changes in dynamic ARE the drama of the scene. Conflict causes the drama, but the actors and audience are aware of that conflict through the changes in dynamic in the scene and characters.
One of the great secrets to creating a highly watchable scene is by studying the scene for its changes in dynamic. Do you see a change in thought, emotion, intention, physical action, energy, pace, intensity? There’s so much changing in a good scene that there is no excuse but to employ this change and bring it to your performance, captivating the audience’s attention.
Each character has their own journey through the scene - with their own dynamics - and that’s one of the things that makes those characters different from each other.
On a tiny level, there are line by line, thought by thought changes occurring in almost every moment of dialogue. On a macro level, there is change in the emotional intensity of the scene. There are so many opportunities for you to create powerful scenes by studying and realising the dynamics of change in the scene.
Search for the dynamics in a scene, they will add the power of captivation to your scene.
Acting Coach Mark Westbrook is the Co-Principal at Acting Coach Scotland