The tip? Look for the opposite.
Here are some examples of some opposites to try in your next scene.
- In a moment when you have rapid fire dialogue: stand completely frozen still.
- At the end of a fight moment, laugh.
- In the middle of a sad monologue, find something funny.
- When all instincts tell you to stand up, fall to the ground instead.
- If your character has had too much to drink, don’t act drunk. Act very, very sober.
- If your character is intensely mad, act overly happy.
- In a very goofy scene, stand still and reveal an honest inner thought.
- Do a serious scene as a comedy and then a comic scene as a serious drama. What do you learn about each scene when played in an opposite manner.
- Do the same thing with finding an opposite pace: Play a fast scene very slowly and a slow scene with great speed. What do you learn?
- Have a character who constantly pronounces they are leaving, and then sits.
- Do a scene where the two characters say they love each other, but secretly hate each other. (try the moment in act one between Hermia and Lysander from A Midsummer Nights Dream)
Hello. Welcome to our video tip series where I’ll be sharing production tips that apply directly to our plays. This tip, by far is the most important. Use it in your acting, directing, playwriting. It will serve you in whatever play you happen to be involved in.
There is a specific reason that in the majority of our vignette plays, there is a serious moment. Nicky and Pete waiting for their pregnancy test in Wait Wait Bo Bait. Greg on his way to the memorial of a friend killed in a drunk driving accident in Skid Marks. And, there is a specific reason that in the majority of our dramas, our issue plays, there are moments of lightness. There’s a reason Moe acts as comic relief in The Bright Blue Mailbox Suicide Note.
It all boils down to this. Opposites. Find the opposite in whatever play you’re working on, in whatever aspect: acting, directing, playwriting. It is the easiest and the most effective way of bringing the unexpected into your work. Think of plays as a roller coaster. It needs ups and downs in order for the experience of the ride to be at it’s best. There’s got to be moments of creeping tension there’s got to be fly by the seat of your pants excitement. And there has to both of them. If everything is on the same level, if everything is the same from beginning to end, if you’ve got a play where everything is the same from beginning to end, you’ve got something that is predictable.
But throw in an opposite, throw in the unexpected, a laugh in a drama, a moment of stillness in a comedy, and you take the work to a whole new level. So, take yourself and your audience on a roller coaster ride. And find the opposite.
That’s it for Video Tips.