Prop Use In RehearsalIf the scene being rehearsed is that in which a character’s arm is being bandaged after being attacked by a feral cat, the scene should be approached with certain questions in mind. First the central aspect of the scene should be observed; if the point of the bandaging is to establish an emotional relationship between the characters, the emotional aspect of the scene must be explored.

The actors should try to make the scene as emotional and personal as possible, perhaps by bringing their own bandage or giving the other actor a back massage. If the center of the scene is the act of bandaging the arm, the motion should be practiced. If there is a layered aspect to the scene, in which both are important, each layer should be addressed separately.

How to Connect Emotional Events and Physical Movement

It is important not to get bogged down or lost in a discussion about the nature of the relationship between two characters,  for example.

The goal is to help create a movement or position, a physical disturbance of some sort, which will help in the development of the actor’s character or relationship with another character. By influencing the two actors in a way to help with their character development, the director helps make the character’s feelings and gestures the actor’s.

The use of physical direction to keep the actor from having an emotional reaction is also key. The position of the actor’s body as well as other actors’ physical gestures can help achieve this. The actors can also have an objective to get a reaction from their fellow actors, thereby creating the emotional aspect of the scene.

Actors and Movement

There are some actors that do their best work when there is a lot of movement associated with the character, and others who do their best work when the characters have almost no movement. The character must be adapted to the actor, so that if the actor works best with little movement the character should have little movement and vice versa. The actor must work in a setting in which their best energy is engaged and it is up to the director to notice which the actor feels more comfortable with.

Pacing

The rhythm in rehearsal is naturally slower than the rhythm during the performance. It is the opportunity to slow down and allow the subtext to emerge. The subtext will eventually tighten up and become quicker. If this does not happen, the matter should be openly addressed, in a constructive manner.

Another way to help with the rhythm is to eliminate “actor pauses”. The story pauses can remain but the pauses the actor creates because he believes the character would do it or it worked before but has lost its emotional content must be taken out.

The director should not indulge in these fancies. They may all have to be taken out one by one and a separate reason provided for each. This function can be phrased as “picking up cues” or “taking out punctuation”.

An advantage to a quick pace is that the actors will not monitor their own performances but will be ‘in the moment’, and act out of impulse and intuition versus thought . This can be achieved by having a substantive rehearsal; to help create the safety, connection and authority among the cast to be able to follow each other’s cues and pace.

A way to help the pace is to set an objective for a faster pace. Improvisations and volume can also help pick up the pace. Improvisation helps give the actors reassurance that the event can take place and speaking loudly gives the actor more energy.

It is not always the case however, that the pace should be fast. There might be a time in which the pace needs to be slow, but the actor might have  set a course for going fast. By having the actors connect with the character and not monitor themselves, they are in the moment. The words being spoken by the actor are theirs; real and honest, and therefore come out at a natural and believable pace.

Creation of the Picture

A crucial part to any scene is to stage the furniture in such a way as to enhance the atmosphere, tone and pace. The activities the characters engage in can also serve to advance the plot and create the atmosphere needed.

When trying to create the picture, there are many things to take into consideration and attention must be given to how it will all come together. The camera angle and what kind of shot being used during the scenes should also be considered carefully. What kind of reaction and impression to you want to leave on the audience? How is the scene going to be presented or unraveled?

The goal of each scene, no matter what the importance in the development of the plot, is to present to the audience the physical and emotional structure of the scene. The subtext should be as clear as possible and should be considered  when planning the creation and layout of the scene taking place.