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Week Introduction

In this article, Johan describes what he means by looking for specific clues, adding the words and using the text as a roadmap to behavior.

This week we will search the text for not just what you’re doing, but how. We will do this in three steps: simply adding the words, the text as a roadmap to behavior and then looking for specific clues.

First, we will see what happens from adding the text on top of the preparation you’ve already done. This means that you’re now simply using the words to answer whatever the moment gives you. And what that moment is will be informed by what you’re doing, your objective, the relationship and whatever the other person is doing and anything else that speaks to you.

As you’re working on this step I encourage you to try out all the different choices you made last week. The ones that are more in line with how you interpret the scene as well as the ones that are just the opposite. This is both because it’s good practice to make different choices and then see how this changes things as you’re focusing on being truthful and present in the moment, and because in making sure that you’re choices are actually different you will train you’re ability to be clear and specific.

Second, we will look for any indications as to how you’re doing what you’re doing. Meisner talked about the text as a roadmap to behavior. This means that there will probably be indications in the text as to how you’re behaving and how you’re trying to affect or how you’re responding to the other person.

And third, we will consider any specific elements of the text indicating tempo, dynamics, punchlines etc. This means to pick up on the things that the writer has done to make us hear the words a certain way as we’re reading them. This is something that we usually do automatically as we’re reading the script, simply because the writer wants us to.

The following three videos will discuss these three steps in more detail.

One last note before we go any further:

As I’ve said many, many, times before in this course. The most important thing will always be the listening and answering to your scene partner in the moment. And everything else that we do to prepare, including this work on the text, will in the end inform how we experience the moment in front of us and how we respond to it.

So, what then do you do if you’re working on a monologue. Well, that depends. If you’re talking to the audience (or to yourself), then that´s your scene partner. But let’s say you’re talking to someone that isn’t there, as you often do in an audition where you’re performing a monologue from a scene and you don’t have anyone in the room to act with. Well, then you have to decide how this imaginary person is behaving and reacting to what you’re saying and doing, and then you respond to that.

Even if you don’t have the other person there, it will still be a good idea to put your focus on this imaginary person instead of on your own performance. However, don’t waste your energy trying to really see this person. Just like we talked about last week regarding your imaginary circumstances, the goal is not to convince yourself something’s real that isn’t. No, just decide where this imaginary person is in the room. Look at that empty spot when it seems like you would.

And then you respond as if there’s someone there doing something.

© Luleå University of Technology
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Introduction to Acting

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