Verbs and Beats — Moonlight and Magnolias

The Face-Off

The Face-Off

I’m posting an excerpt from my Beat/Verb List for “Moonlight and Magnolias”, by Ron Hutchinson.  It’s the only one I seem to have hung onto.  I directed this play, so I’ve included verbs for all of the characters in the beat.  My comments, for your benefit, are in red.

Beat 14 – “Fleming shows up” (Since they’ve been waiting for him, it’s more meaningful than saying “Fleming enters.”  Looking at it now, I wonder why I didn’t include the word “finally”!)

Major:          Fleming (to find out what Selznick wants and get the hell out of here) (As a director, I like to know who “owns” each beat.  I find the “Major” verb first, because that is the one I want to be sure the audience “gets”, and the character who deserves the most attention in the beat.  But if you’ve got a “Minor” verb in the beat, you still want to play it for all its worth.  It’s minor only in the grand scheme of things; not for your character.)
Minor:          Selznick (to tell Fleming what’s going on)
Minor:          Hecht (to fill in the missing pieces)
Minor:          Poppenghul (to do her job)

Beat 15 – “You fired the screenplay?” (This is a line from the play)

Major:          Selznick (to get Fleming on board)
Minor:          Fleming (to make sure he understands what’s going on) (I hate to use words like “make sure”, but I get lazy sometimes about finding a different way of expressing it.  I’m confident that I can play this choice with intensity, so I don’t worry about it.  But you might want to look for a more active choice.)
Minor:          Hecht (to fill in the missing pieces) (Your character’s verb might not change every beat.  Only one character’s verb MUST change.   If no one’s changes, you haven’t got a new beat.)

Beat 16 – “The Face-off” (This adds a physical element to the beat which I may or may not use in performance, but the sense of it should be in the beat when played.)

Major:          Hecht (to defend his abilities)
Minor:          Fleming (to convince Selznick it won’t work)
Minor:          Selznick (to keep the peace)

Beat 17 – “But I digress”

Major:          Hecht (to crack a joke)

Beat 18 – “The rest of the story”

Major:          Selznick (to tell the rest of GWTW)
Minor:          Fleming (to help tell the story)
Minor:          Hecht (to get the story beats)

Beat 19 – “Hecht Rebels, Part I” (Hecht rebels on several occasions throughout the play.  Originally, this was just called “Hecht Rebels” – until I came across the second occasion!)

Major:          Hecht (to convince Selznick he can’t make a movie of GWTW)
Minor:          Selznick (to convince Hecht that he’s wrong)
Minor:          Fleming (to keep things moving)

Beat 20 – “Pulling out the big guns” (This is a ratcheting up of Beat 19, and has an imagery that adds something for me, just as the “The Face-off” did.)

Major:          Hecht (to convince Selznick he’s crazy and will destroy himself)
Minor:          Selznick (to get Hecht to work)
Minor:          Fleming (to get Hecht to work)

Beat 21 – “How can any sane person make sense of it?” (This is NOT a line from the play, but it captures Hecht’s position in this beat.)

Major:          Hecht (to convince Selznick he can’t make a movie of GWTW)
Minor:          Selznick (to get Hecht to work)
Minor:          Fleming (to get Hecht to work)

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