I’ve had a lot of inquires regarding my last post—actors wanting to know more about orchestrating a scene. In order to orchestrate a scene you first have to know what the sequences of events are. Every scene is constructed around a series of events: this happens, then that happens, then this and then that and so on. Each event produces a consequence and each consequence generates an emotion. Once you know what the emotions are then you can orchestrate the scene.
However, many actors have a difficult time figuring out the events in a scene because of their single mindedness in pursuing their character’s objectives. But, and for that very reason, it is imperative you do find the events to have a truly successful scene.
Okay, but whose eyes do I use? Well, the obvious set of eyes would be your scene partner(s). But the problem with that is, if you are truly successful in looking at the scene from another character’s point of view, you run the risk of being as myopic as you were in the first place. Only now you’re predisposed from another character’s POV.
Who’s POV should I use then? The ideal way is to look at the scene from the director’s POV. He too is concerned about where the scene is going but he sees it from an entirely different angle. He is both connected to the actor’s journey but at the same time separate from it. This unique position provides you with the ideal vantage point to, first, to find the events, and then to orchestrate the scene.
Now, wearing the director’s hat, write a paragraph or two that would explain the scene to your actors highlighting the events as you go. Do this from the beginning to the conclusion of the scene.
Once you’ve done that put your actor’s hat back on and using the summary you just wrote, create an outline of the events. After you’ve done that assign an emotion to each event. This happens and I feel this, that happens and I feel that. Do yourself a favor and limit your emotional choices to these eight basic emotions: joy, sadness, anger, fear, jealousy, embarrassment, betrayal and/or confusion. (Why just those eight? That’s a whole separate post – just trust me for right now.)
That’s it. You have orchestrated the scene. Now you have a “musical score” and all that’s left now is to play it. And playing it will be much easier because you’ll know where it’s going and you’ll know how you’re supposed to feel when you get there.
That’s a thumbnail of how to orchestrate the events in your scenes. For a more detailed example click here.
Don’t forget Donna Grossman’s workshop is on the 2nd of April. If you’re following this blog but not getting invitations from Constant Contact to the join the workshop be sure to contact me so I can make sure you are on the right mailing list.