Based on some of my experience of training actors full time and coaching private clients, I realised and recognise there are some essential tips that are easy to learn but that often don’t get applied due to a lack of knowledge or experience. They remain the unknown unknowns in acting.
Understanding the drive beneath a person’s words is vital. When applied to a script, it gives vital clues to the behaviour that will make the scene come to life.
Whenever you get a script, a scene or monologue, you should ask, what does my character want the other character/listener/audience etc to THINK, FEEL and DO as a result of their efforts?
This cuts to the direct intention behind the character’s actions. You see, when in human behaviour, language, the words come last. You insult me, I hear it, I think about it, I feel upset, I respond with a desire, an intention to do something, and then I speak to respond in the best way I can. And being human, sometimes I mumble incoherently and sometimes I manage a coherent response.
Characters are the same. But the actor gets the words first. And so the very last part of human communication is the very first part of an actor’s process. We have to dig backwards from the words to the intention and back to the words again.
By considering what we want the other character to THINK, FEEL and DO, we give ourselves a concrete intention, and then we can think what to do to achieve those three goals.
Another thing that THINK, FEEL, DO does is places the focus on the other actor/character and not yourselves. People are already dreadfully self-conscious things. Then you put them on stage or in front of a camera and our focus turns strongly inwards.
THINK, FEEL and DO takes your focus outwards into the world of the OTHER, away from the self-conscious SELF.
So when you next see a scene, sit down and read it through a few times, and then ask what your character wants the other character to think, feel and do in this beat of the scene. This will drive you into the scene and give your lines new meaning and depth because now they have the intention behind them that makes lines come to life when they are motivated by something.
To You The Best
Mark Westbrook is the author of Truth in Action.