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Activity

Information about the concept of doing within acting
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What am I doing? Last week I said that on the most fundamental level– –what you’re always doing is listening and answering. Moment to moment. Now let’s look at a couple of more aspects of doing. One is more related to the scene objective and that is something we’ll come back to. Another is what I’m doing independently of that. Here’s how a scene is typically constructed. One person is in a certain location doing something. Someone else enters this location and wants something from the first person. Think about this the next time you watch a movie or a TV-show and see if it holds true. So, let’s say that you are the first person in this scenario.
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How do you know what to do? Well, the first thing is this. Don’t wait around for your scene partner to enter so that you can start to act. The scene starts as soon as the lights go up, so to speak. Sometimes there will be strong indications of a certain activity in the script. Sometimes less so. But either way you need to construct your activity in such a way– –that it is something that you can put your focus on without too much pretending going on. Remember, it’s the reality of doing we’re after. Not the pretending of the doing. So, let’s say that the scene is a date and you are the first person to arrive at the restaurant.
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So, the scene starts with you sitting at the table waiting. Now, what are you doing? Well, we’ve already said that you’re waiting, but that’s very general. How do you act waiting? Apart from maybe looking at your watch and at the door? So, let’s try and be more specific. What could you be doing in this situation? The answer to this will ultimately come from you and your imagination– –or the director. But some examples could be– –maybe you’re checking your appearance in a small mirror you have with you– –or maybe you’re trying to use your spoon as a mirror– –or maybe you’re trying to see your reflection in the window.
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Or maybe you’re trying out different ways to sit– –or decide if you should have your jacket on or put it on the chair. Or maybe the other person is running late, and you start to wonder– –if maybe you’ve misunderstood the place and time– –and so you go over your text communication. Or you think the table arrangement is a bit sloppy and so you adjust everything. There are countless options. Just find what’s interesting to you and then put your focus on doing that activity This will root you in the situation and make you come to life. And most importantly it will right away start to put your focus– –where it always should be, outside of yourself.
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And then eventually the other person will appear and something else will happen. Important to note here is that– –all of the examples above are things that you can actually do. You don’t have to pretend to do them. The reason why this is important is that as soon as you start pretending to do something– –instead of simply just doing it– –you’re worrying about showing an end result instead of responding to the moment. Looking at somebody actually doing something to achieve a specific goal– –is always interesting. A good example of this is of course sports as we’ve discussed before– –or any kind of game. But it really holds true for just about anything. Think about this as you’re going about your day.
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Look at people doing their jobs– –or trying to catch a bus, or telling a story to a friend in a café. Choose something to do that interests you– –and you will always be interesting to watch.
In this video, Johan talks about what an activity is, and how to set it up so that you can focus on the doing without having to worry about pretending anything.

Scenes are often constructed with one person being in a location doing something, and then somebody else enters this location wanting something from the first person.

What you could be doing in a given situation will ultimately come from you and your imagination (and/or the director) as you think about the circumstances of the scene. If what you’re doing is interesting to you, then there’s a very strong chance that it will be interesting for the audience to watch.

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Introduction to Acting

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