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‘They are not giving me anything!’
How often have we heard this statement? The actor opposite you appears to be doing nothing, leaving you grasping at proverbial straws for some sort of real relationship. You are acting your littles socks off and your scene partner is stuck in monotone, not moving and seemingly non responsive to anything that you throw in their direction.
One thing this lockdown has done is given many people a chance to take stock, for better or for worse. In conversation with my friends and family I have repeatedly heard people saying that they have never (in a long time) had a chance to consider all they are doing, not doing and want to do.
We often live without overarching purpose, though we are moved every moment by immediate needs, wants and desires.
It’s been a while.
Here’s something to ponder.
All ‘successful’ performances rest on one thing – truthful connection. It is hard to deny that whatever we are watching (no matter how aesthetically or presentationally pleasing) means very little if we remain untouched by what the players are doing to each other. A little like eating fast food, it is immediately satisfying but in the long term, we remain undernourished. Empty.
When I was a younger actor, I heard a phrase that stood me in good stead (for a short while) and that was ‘If in doubt, shout!’ The idea being that if you are ever caught with a piece of text that you didn’t understand, say it really loudly and confidently and no one will be any the wiser. It was, and is, a terrible bit of advice.
Here’s one for you. Take a moment to think about how you feel after an embarrassingly bad audition/rehearsal/take.
I’m sure it won’t be long before your imaginings set off a series of physical sensations. Tight breath, sweating palms, tense neck, gut wrenching cringe. We’ve all been there, grim isn’t it?!
When shooting a series recently, the director approached me and asked me to bring the shared laugh down at the end of a joke my character was telling.
I realised as I processed the note, that he was absolutely right, my laugh was in no way honestly connected to the joke I was telling. It was an imitation of a laugh that I had done over a joke someone told at lunch time.