Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Writer as acting coach

I had an interesting catch up with an actor friend today. Said actor sprung a 3 page scene from an original play (oddly it was in script not play format) for an audition she has later in the week. I didn't think it was particularly well written and I couldn't get a sense of tone - the dialogue was arch and melodramatic so I thought maybe it was meant to be satirical. But I was assured it was a drama and the page count was in the 50s ... so well into the story.

My friend then asked me how I thought she might play the scene. There was no clear action change for her character and the obvious choice was to veer towards melodrama. But that seemed easy and kind of boring. So we went through and manufactured where an action change might be, how lines might be delivered and where the balance of power shifts in the scene.

I think in terms of screen not stage so my choices were based more on a visual sense but we muddled through a passable take on the scene with strong choices that would hopefully differentiate my friend in the casting process. Funnily enough, I'd never really been asked to do that before for something I hadn't written. It was enjoyable but now I fear my advice may hinder not enhance my friend's prospects!

I do admire actors though - to have to make the most of a scene out of context with no real idea of tone especially in a piece that isn't well written must be so nerve wracking. Nearly as nerve wracking as a writer being asked advice on acting!

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