Playing the Verbs, Part I

I want your focus for next week to be on physical motion, but since we touched on playing verbs at the end of class – which we will get into in greater depth as we go along – I thought I’d mention something you can think about with regard to your monologues.

As I said, when characters tell stories in a play, they typically do so for one of three reasons:  to educate, to explain, or to entertain.  explainingIf I want you to support the Spay/Neuter program, I need to educate you about animal over-population.  If you are puzzled over my past behavior, or I am planning on doing something in the future that I think you won’t understand, I will tell you a story about my past that I think will explain why I do what I do.  Or I might just want to make you laugh.  Entertaining stories are often used to provide exposition painlessly.

Don’t confuse providing exposition to the audience with explaining to another character, however.  While the playwright is trying to give the audience information about who your character is or some fact that will be important to the plot, the purpose of this third group of stories for your character is to entertain the other character(s) in the play.

So look at your monologues, which are story monologues, in this light, and choose one of these three verbs to govern your choices.  Ask yourself, “Why am I telling the other character in the scene this story?”  And make sure you keep that purpose in mind throughout your performance.  The need to tell that story can only be satisfied by the completion of the story.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about “stakes” a little bit.  In choosing one of these verbs, you’re choosing a reason to tell your story.  Now let’s make it important that you tell it.  It’s not enough for me to want you to support the Spay/Neuter program.  That has to be the social cause that is nearest and dearest to my heart.  If I feel the need to explain myself to you, perhaps it is because the actions that I’m trying to explain are so unacceptable that I am afraid that I will lose your love if I can’t make you understand why I felt I had no choice.  And if I want to entertain you, let it be because I think you need a good laugh and this is the best one I can come up with.

The more essential and urgent you can make telling the story, the better.

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4 thoughts on “Playing the Verbs, Part I

  1. Pingback: Acting Beats, Part I | SceneStudySTX

  2. Pingback: Acting Beats, Part II – A Practical Example | SceneStudySTX

  3. Pingback: Playing the Verbs, Part II – Going After What You Want | SceneStudySTX

  4. Pingback: Playing the Verbs, Part III — Raising the Stakes | SceneStudySTX

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