There is something oddly unnatural about being onstage when it comes to movement. Is it our awareness of the audience and our need to “cheat” to make certain things easier to see? How do we address the audience’s need to see what happens while making our activities on stage look natural?
One thing I’ve learned as a golfer is that you need to break technique into the smallest pieces possible. It’s the only way to get good at them. Trying to do multiple things at once and get good at them simultaneously is nearly impossible. Oh, heck, let’s just call it completely impossible.
That’s why when I give you an exercise, I ask you to only pay attention to one thing at a time. When it comes to working on your physical life, I want you to worry less about the lines and the emotion and more about the physical. I don’t care if your monologues aren’t as emotionally successful next week. I care about whether or not you can walk and talk at the same time.
Let’s break the physical element into two pieces: movement that involves changing location (walking, crossing your legs, sitting down) and movement that involves using your hands to do something (pack a suitcase, drink some coffee, peel a banana). And let’s explore those two things separately.
Your assignment for next week is to do your monologue while changing location as much as possible. You have the whole script to put the monologue into context now; use that for your emotional life, but disregard the constraints that the script places on you physically. We’re not staging the play, so we don’t care if we do it “right”. We’re using the monologue as a learning tool, that’s all.
Choose surroundings that give you the greatest opportunity to move around. If there isn’t an emotional impetus to move you, choose ANY activity, no matter how inane (like moving the cups) that will give you a reason to use as much of the stage as possible. You don’t have to keep moving if you have an emotional reason to stay still. Just don’t stay still after the moment has passed, and don’t be self-indulgent about those moments, even if that is the right choice emotionally.
We’re looking for balance between the physical and emotional, but err in favor of movement for the purpose of this exercise. You can always scale back if you go overboard; but if you don’t go far enough, you’ll never get there. (The golf analogy: you have to get it to the hole to have a shot at it going in the hole.)
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