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Specific Clues
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Specific Clues

Step three looking at acting scripts, focusing on adding specific clues.
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Now we’ll look for any specific clues and suggestions the text can give us– –as to how we might play a certain moment in the scene. Let’s say that this is about the musicality of the text. What we’re talking about here could for instance be indications of tempo– –or dynamics or punchlines. This will by necessity be a very brief discussion of this topic. So, let’s just say that the writer will have an idea of how the text should be performed– –and will have tried to indicate that in the writing. If you for instance have a line written in all caps– –that will say something about how the writer intends it to be performed.
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Probably it’s meant to be shouted, or at least spoken with high volume and intensity. Maybe there’s a dialogue– –where the two people talking are cutting each other off all the time. This will probably indicate a rather quick tempo with no pauses between the lines. And sometimes you will see that a line is clearly a joke– –and so you need to find the timing and pacing of the line to make the joke work. The above is just a few general examples to illustrate– –that you need to pay attention to the way something’s written. A lot of this you will probably pick up on automatically.
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As I said, the writer will have written it– –so that you hear the lines a certain way as you read them. Trust your instincts. Sometimes what will happen is that something was funny when we read it– –and then, all of a sudden, it’s not funny anymore when we say it out loud. This is often because we have complicated it in some way. Maybe we’re trying so hard to act our preparation– –and our active verb and everything else we think we need to do– –that the moment becomes too heavy and confused– –and, well, not funny.
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Usually then all you have to do is to think back to why it was funny when you read it– –and then just simply say it that way. Sounds easy enough, right? In this course I have introduced this as the last step. However, when in the process you start to put your attention on– –the specific wording and style of a text– –can differ a bit depending on the genre. If you’re for instance working on a Shakespeare play, or any other more poetic text– –you might need to start here. Or for that matter a modern piece with a very distinctive style. Or a comedy that is very dense with jokes.
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But seeing as the tendency usually is to get here way too early– –and since this is the closest to working with a specific result in mind– –I thought that for our purposes it was best to put it last. Now, I understand if it might seem like– –this goes against everything else I’ve said in this course so far– –where I’ve stressed that you shouldn’t decide beforehand– –how you’re going to say your lines– –but instead listen and answer truthfully and organically in the moment. Well, the reality is that you can do both. You can listen and answer truthfully and at the same time– –know that you need to, for instance, build to a big crescendo in the scene.
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It’s the combination of the two that will make your performance great. And, so, now you can start to put it all together. Just remember, as you add more and more elements– –don’t forget to listen. To be present and open. One moment at a time.
In this video, Johan talks about how the text will offer specific clues as to how we might play a certain moment. This can be thought of as the musicality of the scene.

The writer will have an idea of how the text should be performed and will have expressed that in the writing.

Thinking about this might seem like it goes against everything else that’s been said in this course, where it has been stressed that you shouldn’t decide beforehand how you’re going to say your lines but instead listen and answer truthfully and organically in the moment.

The reality is that you can do both. You can listen and answer truthfully and at the same time know that you need to for instance build to a big crescendo in the scene. It’s the combination of the two that will make your performance great.

Now you can start to put it all together. Just remember, don’t forget to listen. To be present and open. One moment at a time.

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Introduction to Acting

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