The Acting Process 2 - Text

The Acting Process

(The Order of Study From Text to Performance)

Part 2 - TEXT

This is a large subject to cover, but basically an actor must consider:

MEANING.

Very simply, every word and phrase should be understood. The character obviously understands what they are saying and so should the actor, in order to be believable. Examiners often ask for the meaning of words or phrases.

CONTEXT

If the scene is from a play, it is important the actor knows how the scene fits into the play as a whole and its importance to the plot or story. Only by knowing the context can an actor perform with the correct light and shade, sincerity, and emotional conviction. When a scene is performed OUT OF CONTEXT, it is likely to be inaccurate in many ways.

Where a scene is written as a monologue - the story behind it, the events within it, and the emotions involved should be explored fully. The written word means nothing until it is lived.

SUBTEXT

Is Basically the underlying meaning of the dialogue. Never take what your character says at face value. By studying context, you may find what your character says may not be what they mean. Eg:

The Servant girl may say to her employer “Good morning’ Ma’am, how lovely to see you today!”

In the context of the story she HATES her boss and probably wants to see Ma’am miserable. The way in which the line is delivered will be different if the SUBTEXT is: “Good morning’ you old hag, I hate to see you looking so pleased with yourself!”

MOOD CHANGES and EMOTIONAL UNITS

Where feelings develop or change , a note should be made and each mood given a number for the unit. Eg:

The servant pretends to greet Ma’am respectfully (UNIT 1). When the boss has gone, the servant goes into a rage about how she hates her (UNIT 2). When she throws her apron across her arm and knocks over a vase, she feels at first guilty (UNIT 3), then afraid (UNIT 4) Etc.

The Mood Changes will affect:

* Words used and how they are spoken.

* Breathing.

* Vocal power.

* Use of Pauses.

* Posture, Gesture, and Facial Expression.

Mood changes should be clearly acted and in character.