Sunday, September 12, 2010

Audition by Michael Shurtleff - Importance

The following is the eighth in a series of twelve articles based upon the twelve guideposts listed in Audition: Everything an Actor Needs to Know to Get the Part by Michael Shurtleff. The author was the casting director for many of David Merrick's Broadway productions. He also worked with Bob Fosse and Andrew Lloyd Webber. His book is known as the actor’s bible. If you take a college acting class, it will likely be required reading. While Shurtleff’s book is aimed at actors, his principles are beneficial to both writers and directors as well. This series is geared toward writers.

Novels, stage plays and screenplays emphasize the most important moments in people's lives, not the humdrumness. The truth is not enough for a commercial story. It must must be invested with sufficient emotion to make it important. Actors in their acting must seek the opposite of what they've been trained in life to seek. Peacefulness and the avoidance of trouble won't help in acting. Actors must seek the opposite in their acting. Writers must seek the opposite in writing their stories. Importance does not necessarily mean of significance to others. It means what is emotionally important to the protagonist in this moment. Make trivial things important in the moment, even if a day later the character has forgotten them. Make the importance in each scene as important as you can. Find the maximum importance. Add importance. If you don't, no one will be listening to you.

Choose the positive, not the negative, in creating your character. People are motivated by dreams, not negative realities. Reality creates problems; dreams are how we deal with them. Dreams are why we stay alive. If you leave out the dreams, you omit the best part of the character as a human being.

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