What’s the Story?

Actors are storytellers.  So is the director and the designers of any production.  This must be fully accepted and understood.  Many, if not most, do not accept or understand this.  They don’t recognize that it is an awesome and thrilling responsibility to tell a story.

First of all, you take charge of the playwright’s creation.  The playwright is at the mercy of individuals who may not know their elbow from another part of their body.  We’ve all been involved in that kind of production.  The director has a concept, imposes it upon the play, and chaos ensues.  Unfortunately, unless the play is an established classic, the playwright gets blamed for over-writing or under-writing or poor writing.  More often than not, it’s the playwright that has been misinterpreted or uninterpreted.  The creative team — actors, director, and designers – has let the playwright down.

There is also the occupational hazard of theatrical convention (this exists in filmed media as well.)  There is so often an accepted histrionic behavior (histrionic, if you don’t know, is defined as overly dramatic in behavior or speech.)  It’s an accepted convention.  (Convention for the unfamiliar is defined as:  an accepted usage, standard, or usage.)  There’s nothing original, impulsive, instinctual, or organic (I’m not a fan of this over-used word) about theatrical convention.

What is conventional theatrical behavior?  It’s hard to define, but it occurs so often in so many ways.  Here’s an attempt at explaining it.  In a script, the character is at a funeral.  The actor notices this circumstance and then determines that funeral = sadness, tears, crying.  The actor fails to consider what the situation is, what might be needed during a difficult time of life (good cheer, comfort, and maybe a laugh or two!).  Instead the actor serves his or her own needs rather than thinking about the OTHER characters, the OTHER people in the situation.

When considering the story of a scene, the actor needs to define the simple situation of the scene, the relationships involved in that scene, and the needs of the OTHERS in the scene.  What’s the story?  What’s does the story need at this moment?  And how can I serve the story here and now?

That’s what the actor needs to discover.  Leave yourself alone, figure out what the OTHER needs from you, and determine how you can serve the story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>