A better way to get in the door...Oct 14, 2021
Raise the stakes.
We are often told to raise the stakes. After all, it's a freaking guidepost - and presumably we only have 12 to work with! (-Shurtleff reference for those who stray away from books on acting). But it's not just Shurtleff that calls for the raising of stakes. It's a common theme in many approaches, and words often spoken as direction in the session room.
Stop playing it so safe. Raise the stakes.
So... what's that mean!?!?! Just WANT it harder? Make it more desperate? Fight harder?
And what would that look like?
You've got a door
Your character needs to get THROUGH that door. It's a crushing need for them and their heart will break if they fail.
So let's picture your character walking up to that door and knocking on it. If they raise the stakes they might knock harder. Raise them more and they might holler out and knock at the same time. Or they might start really screaming and banging on the door wildly.
Or maybe we add some desperation in and they are crying, screaming, bursting forth with loads of emotion and a complete mess as they are pleading and begging that the door be opened and crumple on the floor in a heap of despair.
And we go on upwards on this spectrum as we raise the stakes.
The audience watches and feels bad for you and says "yeah, they really wanna get in that door."
Go get your kit
Now, your character walks out of frame, grabs an axe and comes back in and starts chopping the door apart.
Or they grab an axe and a flame thrower and a wild horse that will kick the door apart while you blast it with a flame thrower and chop it one handed with the axe all at the same time.
Or you roll in with a tank.
And the audience says "Ok, holy s#$t THIS person REALLY f*&$%^ing wants to get in that door. Like BAD."
It's one thing to feel the emotion, and it's another thing to actually DO something about it. And often (not always) we will be more drawn to the person that is fighting in a scene.
Your emotion is important, but your TOOLS are your fight.
What's in your kit?
Too often we think that if we can support a heavier and heavier load of believable emotion, that our scenes will be more and more intriguing...
But just emoting is not gonna up the FIGHT in your scene.
Now, I'm not saying to bring props on screen in order to achieve that fight. But a wider and more diverse toolset of vocal range, rhythms, physicality, facial expressions, beat changes are going to give your character more tactics with which to CHANGE the course of events in a scene and make things go in THIER favor.
How do they BITE with a look, or CUT with a phrase, or BURN with that subtext, or KICK with that silence?
The more range you have in your PHYSICAL AND VOCAL ability, the more options your characters will have in their tool box to help them get through that door. Range is not all about how far you can go with emotion. How far can you go with actions?
And how do you ADD to your actor's toolset in order to gift these options to your characters?
Well... that's called practice and exploration. We'd love to be a part of that journey with you in our Upcoming Classes or in The Practice
The CASTING door...
Now I know you may have read the subject line and are hoping to learn how to get in the CASTING door more often. Ah, click bait. But honestly - the answer is the same. The more tools you give your characters, the more captivating your acting and auditions become. And that WILL get you in the door more and more often.
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