Avoid Jumping to the Conclusion

ist2_9231241-cartoon-flu-bugNot sure how many of you were cursed with the flu that is going around but it laid me low for almost a month. Hence the lag time between posts. I was down in the bed for two weeks and only got up to attend Matt Penn’s workshop (see previous post) and to teach one class. Better now, much better, but still not a hundred percent.

I am happy to report however that Matt’s workshop was an unqualified success. Twenty-five actors got to present their work to one of television’s more prolific directors: Law & Order, Damages, The Closer, Pan Am, Private Practice, Royal Pains, House, In Plain Sight, Detroit 187, Blue Bloods, NYPD Blue,  Third Watch, Gossip Girl, Orange Is the New Black, The Sopranos, etc., etc.) It was, as one of the actors said, “A you-should-have-been-there-event.”

Up next on April 2nd is the incredible casting director, Donna Grossman. Just a quick reminder — these workshops are free to the people that follow this blog, or to actors who have studied with me. The invitation for Donna’s workshop will be going out soon so keep an eye out for it.

A thing I’ve been noticing with many of the actors who come to study with me is how quickly they want to jump to the end of the piece they’re performing without taking the time to fully investigate the journey. They know the piece starts at Point A and goes to, say, imagesPoint F but instead of looking for all the twists and turns along the way they make a bee-line for the end.

Knowing the final result is important but if you jump to the final conclusion it causes a lot of problems. First, if you play the end too close to the beginning you don’t have anywhere to go. Second, by jumping straight to the “end” of the piece you forego the opportunity to orchestrate the scene and orchestrating the scene is the key to engaging the audience.

Going after something, then almost losing it, then getting back on track only to fall off the rails again and repeating some variation of that until you finally achieve what you want is a much more interesting journey then grabbing the brass ring the moment you get on the merry-go-round.

Every script…well, I can’t really say every script because there are some bad ones out there, but almost every script has these elements built into it but it takes a conscientious actor to find them and then a disciplined actor play them. Why? Because Point A and Point F are so much clearer, but not necessarily more important, than the plot points from B and E.

If you will look for and play the “almost-got-it-and-then-lost-it-moments” not only will you be more involved in the scene but the audience will be more engaged as well. So, when you break down your next scene you don’t jump to the end but rather take the time to discover the whole journey — see what points B, C, D and E have to offer you. We, the viewing audience, your scene partner, the rest of the company, we will all thank you for it.

Sidebar: In rehearsals now for a show I’m directing. A one-act titled “Broken,” it is part of the T. Schreiber Fest that opens the 18th of March. More details later. 


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1 Response to Avoid Jumping to the Conclusion

  1. Mary Mackey says:

    Thank you John! You’re so right, Discovering the little things that make the scene uniquely ours is so important but some times life and LA traffic puts us in a rush to get there. Thank you for the reminder to slow down and take it all in:)

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