Acting Directing

Video Tip – How Do I Control Pauses?

Written by Craig Mason

Here’s a New Video Tip. Today’s topic is “How do I Control Pauses?” View it here.


Welcome to our Video Tip Series. This category in our series is called “How Do I Solve.” How do I solve some of the simple but prevalent acting issues in beginning and young actors. Today – pauses. Between lines. Which. Really. Tend. To. Slow. The. Pace.

It happens a lot, particularly in scenes where characters are doing a lot of intense thinking, or have to make decisions. Actors make the mistake of applying those thinking actions outside their actual lines. They think then speak. Everything becomes a separate action. Actor A is speaking. Actor A finishes. Actor B, thinks and then speaks. It derails the scene. If you take a look at real life conversations there’s rarely a beat or a space like that. We’re thinking as the other person is speaking and chiming right in. Sometimes we step on the words of the other person. In scene work, neither of these things are necessarily bad. They can give life and energy to the dialogue.

Another re-occurring problem is the breath beat. Actor A finishes, Actor B, then inhales and starts speaking, when what they should be doing is taking that inhale at the tail end of Actor A’s line, so they’re ready to go.

One exercise you can use to help get rid of pauses is an Italian line run. The cast gets together and runs through the lines one right after the other without any time for pauses. There’s no acting, there’s no blocking just lines. This exercises lets you know pretty quickly how solid you are on the lines, but then that’s another reason why actors pause, because they’re reaching for the next line. Get solid on those lines and for some the pauses will disappear.

That’s it for Video Tips!

About the author

Craig Mason