8 Goals to Reach for When Performing a Quality Scene
Written by Ashleigh Gardner
October 12, 2017
You and your scene partner have been given a scene to perform either as part of a class exercise or for a full-blown theatrical production. Memorize the lines, block the scene, BOOM. You’re done, right?
Not quite. Performing a quality scene takes tons of rehearsal time, dedication, and work. Check out these 8 tips for performing a quality scene that’ll leave the audience speechless.
1. Help audiences understand the action of the scene through your stellar diction and volume.
No matter if you’re performing a monologue or a scene (or even a musical number), the audience needs to understand what you’re saying. Make sure you warm up your voice with diction exercises and vocal warm-ups prior to every performance.
2. Communicate characters’ relationships to the audience through effective movement choices.
Know your blocking and make sure the gestures and movements you’re making make sense within the context of their relationship. If your character was trying to give another character a glass of water, would she fill the glass and then stand there, waiting for the second character to walk over? Or would she walk to the other character and offer it?
3. Ensure that your character’s motivations are made clear through rehearsed yet honest, in-the-moment acting.
It’s important to know your lines and rehearse your scene so that you know exactly where it starts, meanders, and ends. However, it’s also important to be familiar enough with your scene that you can be in the moment to savor moments and words as if they’re happening for the first time.
4. Be vulnerable with your scene partner and allow your character to exist without the hindrance of your own embarrassment or fear.
Oftentimes, it’s difficult (especially if we have stage fright) to allow ourselves to becomes vulnerable enough to let the character come alive. Honor the character you’re playing, and allow yourself to let go of insecurities and fear. Your performance will be so much more outstanding.
5. Create a truthful moment the audience can believe in.
Part of our jobs as actors is to help the audience get lost in a story, one that they can believe in for just 90 minutes (even though the show may involve fairies or alternate dimensions). It’s the actor’s job to create a believable reality through truthful and honest acting. Don’t just tell the story onstage, allow your character to live it.
6. Tell the story and faithfully represent the characters and relationships that are written by the playwright.
It’s also our jobs to tell the story that the playwright wrote, not another one that we feel is a “better” story. If your lines are, “Mary, you cannot do this. You will not do this. I cannot allow you to do this,” don’t paraphrase them or change the wording to, “Mary, you can’t. You won’t. I won’t let you.” Also, don’t change the words because you think your version would be better. The playwright intentionally chose the words they wrote to represent how your character feels at that very moment. So honor the playwright, honor their words, and honor the character you’re playing by presenting their story as-written.
7. Give your characters humanity so that audiences care about your character and can identify with their struggle.
If you’ve ever seen a play or a movie that you didn’t like, chances are that the characters weren’t likable (or the story was bad, but we’ll leave that for some other time). If you want the audience to sympathize with your character and like your character, make sure to bring out their humanity. Not every villain is pure evil, and not every hero is infallible.
8. Give the audience a performance that was worth their time and/or money.
There’s nothing worse than going to a play and watching the actors onstage give no more than 50%. Make sure that you’ve strived to accomplish numbers 1-7 above. Every person has spent time, if not money, to take in your performance. They’ve come to support your art. Give them the gift of a well-rehearsed, carefully orchestrated, and honest performance.
Need some advice? We’ve got you covered.
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