The Twelve Essentials of Interpretation
I. RELATIONSHIP: Start with a question- What is my relationship with the characters in this scene? Facts are never enough. First determine if you are the son, the mother, the lover... then determine the Feel. Go further into the relationship than the mere facts. Ask feeling questions about your emotion attitude of the characters. Do you love him? Do you hate her? Do you want to help him? Do you resent her? These are the most important questions. The fact tells you only that- the facts. The emotions tell you about the character.
II. CONFLICT: What are you fighting for? All life is a fight. We all want to get something. "What is your goal in this scene?" "I want to get away from this person. I want to run out of this room." "Then why dont you run? What is keeping you there?" Plays are not written about everyday life or about peace and tranquility, but rather about the extraordinary, the unusual, and the climaxes. Performers must realize that what they must use in their performance is the opposite of what they have been trained to seek in their own lives. Peacefulness and the avoidance of trouble will not help them.
III. THE MOMENT BEFORE: Every scene that you will ever act begins in the middle. Something always proceeds what you are doing - what was it?
IV. HUMOR: Humor is not jokes. Humor is the attitude toward being alive without which you would long ago has killed yourself. Humor is not being funny. It is the coin of exchange between human beings that makes it possible for us to get through he day. Humor exists even in the humorless.
V. OPPOSITES: Whatever you decide is your motivation in the scene, the opposite of that is also true and should be in it. Consistency is the heart of dull acting. What fascinates us about other human beings is their inconsistency, their use of opposites. Opposites exist strongly in every human being.
VI. DISCOVERIES: Every scene is filled with discoveries, things that happen for the first time. No matter how many times is has happened in the past, there is something new about this experience. There is something new about this experience, something different about this moment.
VII. COMMUNICATION: When a scene fails an actor will frequently say, "But I felt it!" If that feeling is not being communicated to the other characters in the scene, nothing has happened. You need to have it felt by the other characters. Communication is a circle...not a one-way street.
VIII. IMPORTANCE: Plays are written about the most importance moments in peoples lives. Never are plays about the humdrum happenings.
IX. FIND THE EVENTS: One of the chief roles of the performer is to create the events of the piece. An event can be a change, a confrontation, a consequence, a climax. Events can be overt or hidden, clear or obscure.
X. PLACE: Everything takes place in an empty place. It is up to the performer to create the stage. If the performer does not create the stage for the him or her self, how is the audience to see it? The performer must not only create the place but the feel about the place as well.
XI. ROLES: Each character plays a different role in each scene. They might play the role of the teacher in one scene, the role of the parent in another, and a peer in yet another. Every scene is a new role.
XII. MYSTERY: Create a sense of mystery with your character. Add in what you do not know. There is always something intriguing about the person. No matter how well you know someone there is always something you dont know.
Your life is a work of art. You are artists, and your life is your work. Every moment is a moment of creation, and each moment of creation contains infinite possibilities.