I was having an impromptu lesson with my regular handyman; Mike, on how to lay a carpet rail. He said that one of the keys to a quality job was in the preparation. Immediately, my acting antenna went up.

“The principle that I stand by is this” he said, “measure twice – cut once”.

Boom! I knew there was going to be something relevant. I was immediately reminded of the great benefit of actioning the text before taking it onto the floor. 

I stand upon the principles of Shared Experience creator, Mike Alfreds. He taught me the value of analysing the text ahead of rehearsal and applying actions and objectives to every one of my scenes. In this way, we have made basic decisions about the tactics that our character is employing throughout a scene as well as considering what our scene partner is offering us that makes us respond in this way. 

This, to me, reflects the ‘measure twice-cut once’ ethos of handyman Mike.

The massive benefit of applying actions to your text is that you are considering the interplay between the characters ahead of the rehearsal/performance and making an educated guess as to what the writer intended the character to do when they wrote the piece. You then apply a relevant action, absorb the action through practice and use it in the moment in whatever way feels relevant that day. 

A common fear: ‘if I decide an action before I rehearse, I am going to be stuck in my ways and left with only one choice’.

Not true! When you settle on an action, you are merely taking a moment to acknowledge the writers original intention. A pre written character can only be doing a handful of things with each thought, the story is not so flexible that they mean 1000 different things when they say ‘how are you?’.

You can, however, play that action in a hundred different ways meaning you are more open to fresh and spontaneous relationship while remaining specific and true to the intention of the writer.

So, preparing the text before hand, reading it carefully and applying actions is measuring twice. Stepping out, paying attention and changing your partner with a bold and specific action is cutting once.

To you, the artist.