Once we’ve answered the question; what is literally happening in the scene?, the next step is to determine what the essential action of the scene is, the action we are actually going to do in the scene. Note that the literal action in the scene, is not the same as our essential action. The literal action is what the character is doing as per the script. But we are not the character, we will never make ourselves “believe” that we are the character. So, we need to convert that literal, fictional action into something we can actually do, but something like that delineated in the script – the essential action then, is the essence of what the character is doing.
An essential action is something that is physically capable of being done. For example: –
– to plead for help
– to sell a great idea
– to reassure a friend
These are all actions that we can get up and start doing immediately, without “preparation”. They are concretely do-able and so ground us in truth during the scene.
The essential action gives us something to focus on doing for the scene, taking our attention off ourselves, so freeing us up while simultaneously giving structure to our performance. It is a truly creative technique and helps to anchor the actor in truth.
PS – I’m currently trying to expand my repertoire actors for projects I’m going to be getting off the ground over the next few years. Ideally, I want to avoid the casting process, and work with actors of like minds, who have similar values, outlook and interests. As such, I’m going to be setting up a series of free workshops and mini-productions, as a way of connecting and trying out material. We’ll primarily be using the techniques and philosophies I’ve been outlining on this blog over the last 4 years. If you’d like to get involved in this, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note – this is London based. Thanks. James.