BRINGING A MONOLOGUE TO LIFE

Sylvia Madden

 

“A Monologue!”

That’s what Sylvia said she wanted to work on.  We decided she would do ten private lessons exploring different monologues.  On her third session she had clearly done her research.  She understood all the implications of the circumstances she was referring to in the scene.  The processes The Rehearsal Room uses were all in place … yet in the end it still sounded like a ‘monologue’.

Actors will generally always operate in ‘monologue mode’ under these circumstances.  There are many reasons for this –

  • monologue’s often are referring to things that have happened in the past – so actor’s become reflective,
  • the reflective or reminiscing process leads them to being ‘internally focused’ (death to any performance)
  • and because that process connects the actor to recollections of ‘feelings’ this process leads to that REALLY BAD acting trait of revealing how the character feels.

The outcome of these processes is the reason that ‘monologues’ are often predictable and frequently excruciatingly boring.

In the scene she was rehearsing with me Sylvia’s character was talking to a group.  After her first rehearsal we decided to put a new plan in place.

THE PLAN:
On behalf of the character, Sylvia had to decide on …

  1. THREE words that she would use to described her strengths.
  2. Next she decided on THREE words that described her weaknesses.
  3. THEN, on the next rehearsal whenever Sylvia felt the possibility of a negative assessment from her imagined audience she had to …
    i.     DECIDE which of her ‘weaknesses’ she believed they were assessing
    ii.     and then DECIDE which of her ‘strengths’ she should use to counter their negative view (and to cover her own self-doubts).

This might sound complicated but if you trust your intuitive instincts we have proved it is easily achieved.

Sylvia Madden rehearsing

THE RESULT:  Sylvia’s scene was totally transformed.  It was real, richly complex and very engaging.   That was because, her character appeared to be outwardly confident and dominant while underneath we knew she was fragile and insecure.  In addition, it was no longer a ‘monologue’ – NOW IT WAS A ‘CONVERSATION’.

Because Sylvia had moved completely away from any ‘internal’ focus on the past and was totally focusing her concentration on the immediate ‘external’ task of making the next decision the performance had been TRANSFORMED.   It was now ALIVE!!!   Sylvia had achieved an AMAZING result.

SylviaRehearses2b

This entire exercise emphatically confirms The Rehearsal Room view that …
“The most important thing an actor can EVER do is make the character’s NEXT DECISION.”

 

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