Acting

The Thinker

Photo by Brian Hillegas

This article from the Chicago Tribune talks about the art of thinking in an acting performance.

While the article focuses on movie acting, but it certainly applies to the stage. The best characters are three-dimensional, and that means they are living, breathing, thinking human beings. A great character actor does more than skim the surface, and say the lines. They say the lines as if they are being formed in their brains, thought through, coming out of their lips for the very first time.

This is an excellent jumping off point for discussion, especially with young actors. Students have their hands full with learning the dialogue, figuring out what to do with their feet and hands, maybe there’s a shade of character development. It’s asking a lot to add ‘think your lines’ to the mix. But that’s not to say they can’t. Sometimes all you have to do is ask…

One way to get students to focus on the ‘thinking’ that goes into a line is to work on subtext. Subtext involves a distinct separation between what is thought and what is said. It’s a good place to start! Exercise: Improv a restaurant scene in which the conversation is about the restaurant and what they are going to order. Explore the following subtexts:

  • A wants to break up with B.
  • B wants to propose to A.
  • A and B are planning to run away together.
  • A and B are planning a bank heist.
  • A and B are planning to rob their next door neighbour.
  • A and B are planning to cheat on an exam.

About the author

Lindsay Price