The One Question Every Actor Needs to Ask Themselves. 

Nov 30, 2023 | Acting, Auditions

Do you ever find yourself getting lost in all the potential questions you can ask when you get a script? Who, what, where, when, why? Not to mention deadly questions such as: how should I say this? What should this sound like? What does this person feel?

This article is for you if you’re an actor looking for clarity on how to approach the text.

Stop asking yourself How.

Step one is getting rid of the worst habit an actor can have during script analysis. When an actor asks themselves how something should sound, look, or feel, they are focused on the audience’s experience of their performance rather than their character’s experience of that moment.

Commit to your new Mantra- “What for”

You get into their headspace when you ask yourself what a character is saying or doing something for. You start to understand the moment from their point of view rather than your own. This method ties your choices to intentions rather than feelings.

Here’s a simple example:

“I’m bored, bored, bored.”

-This is a line from Anton Chekhov’s “The Three Sisters.”

An actor can get into a lot of trouble asking how here. They might find a stiff way to convey their boredom or blandly state the facts. They might focus on “playing” disappointed or “showing” frustration at the lack of entertainment. All of these choices would put the focus on the audience’s response and stop you from living truthfully.

If an actor asks – what for, or what is my character saying these lines for, they will be open to a world of possibilities and active choices. Maybe she is saying this line to embarrass her sisters, trying to catch the eye of someone she thinks is cute, or she is trying to liven up the party.

Whatever choice you make, asking what for will keep your focus as an actor on what your character is pursuing. This focus will lead to better rehearsals, auditions, and performances.

The next time you have a script in front of you, ask yourself the one question every actor needs to ask themselves: What for? This question will lead you to many exciting choices, all with the same outcome: better acting than asking yourself how.

Break a leg! 

Remember: you are enough. 

Contributed by Danny Greenberg, director of The Danny Greenberg Studio.

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