Scene analysis is difficult. If anyone tells you different, you’re either talking to an idiot, a bad actor, or maybe both. It can be tedious work. Sifting through the playwright’s words to figure out what essentially is happening at every moment of the play….That’s right. At every moment of the play. Even the scenes you aren’t in!
It can be overwhelming, too. There’s always this constant pressure to get it right. To figure out exactly what the playwright meant, what her intention was with the story, why did she write it, and why does this scene follow that scene, and on and on and on.
Analysis causes me high anxiety. (There’s a joke in there somewhere. Anyway….) I start to feel hopeless and completely helpless. Paralyzed and intimidated by this beast called THE TEXT. The only way I know how to deal is to begin to break the beast into bits. Little simple bits.
For instance, I’ll sometimes track when one character enters and then leaves a scene. That’s a bit. Or when any character enters a scene, and then when any character leaves the scene. That’s a bit. Because there’s a change. And a change in the story of any kind usually means that something important just happened. Something important to the telling of the story. No matter how small that change might be. I chart these little changes, these entrances and exits, and I begin to notice other little bits of change throughout the play. The story starts to make sense, each little moment reveals itself as building on the one that came before, each little exchange between characters seems inspired no matter how mundane, common, or colloquial.
But it all starts with a little bit. Somebody enters, somebody leaves. Something just happened, something just changed. Something just sparked the imagination.