Crying in a Round

Dramatic Interpretation (DI) is an event riddled with conflict, stress, relationship drama, and frequent emotional outpours. These are givens that coincide with a serious event, naturally. However, there is one element that is debatable as to whether or not it should be permitted within DI: crying. Should a piece allow for characters to wail? Is a single, artistically shed tear acceptable? Crying is a decision that all DI performers must make. Yet, the negative effects of crying should pause a performer from crying without restraint.

One of the more important reasons to avoid crying in a DI is that of loss of control. A Dramatic Interpretation may deal with emotionally charged topics, but it is worth remembering that DI is a performance. This is a stylized presentation of a dramatic story. Everything involved with a DI is planned, or at the very least anticipated. Certainly there will be moments of honest emoting where the preparation done in rehearsal allows for the performer to be “in the moment.” However, when a performer allows for tears to enter a performance they risk losing control of their composure. Crying can cause unexpected blubbering, an annoyingly wet face, and ruined make-up for ladies. Sometimes tears, especially when paired with a stressful day, can overcome a performer. This is rare, but it can occur.

Another reason to not cry in a Dramatic Interpretation is to prevent the audience or judge from negatively viewing a performance. Tears can be viewed by some as a prop; an aesthetic tool done to be overdramatic and gain quick sympathy. Crying might be a natural occurrence in life, but in a Dramatic Interpretation it almost always is viewed as a choice. With that in mind, crying then becomes a means to visually display just how serious and depressing a scene is. The question is, are the tears justified or are they a crutch? Sympathetic people respond to tears, and therefore tears can be viewed as a cheap way to easily gain audience support. This is definitely a subjective opinion to tears. While some embrace them for being “raw,” others will ponder why a riveting, controlled performance was not considered instead? While getting teary-eyed by being honestly taken with the emotions of a scene are generally considered real and permissible, flat-out crying is often ridiculed for “trying too hard.” Especially when it is obvious these are timed tears.

Further still, tears have the ability to ruin all character exchanges during a scene. Unless a performer who frequently finds themselves in tears chooses a monologue, a tearful scene with character pops is doomed. Why? As one character might have a legitimate reason to cry, the other(s) may not. Why is the character who is supposed to be stoic/angry/unmoved/etc. crying? Audiences suspend disbelief while watching a Dramatic Interpretation and accept that one person is playing multiple. However, asking an audience to accept poorly constructed characters is unacceptable. Every character is to be distinct and developed. All of a performer’s analysis, interpretation, and practice is trashed once an inexcusable shared tear is shed between two characters. In addition, crying might lessen the distinction between characters enough to cause slight confusion over which character is which--notably when the physical and vocal differences between two characters are not diverse enough.

If a performer is resolute to cry during a performance because they firmly believe that it is necessary and justified, which is a possibility, then there is one rule to heed (this also applies to unintentional tears as well). Do not lose control or go too far. When tears begin, try to keep them restrained to either watery-eyes (best look) or the clichéd single tear. In effect, refrain from letting tears consume the performance and completely saturate the face. This way, a performer prevents appearing as if they are using tears to compensate for a weak performance WHILE being somewhat capable of governing their emotions. Also, find a piece, or section of one, where the crying will happen during a monologue to deter from cross-character tears and the confusion evoked from this. Simply put, reign in the tears and be aware of how crying will effect the performance.

Crying serves a purpose in the emotional well-being of humans. Tears are a release from pent-up stress. Without them, insanity or severe depression might grasp a person. However, using tears not absolutely justified in a Dramatic Interpretation is most likely a losing scenario. The cons of tears clearly overrule any redeeming qualities of being expressive. As performers we are determined to present the honesty of life, often in a stylized manner, to elicit an emotional response from the audience. Are not the audience's tears sufficient and more real than anything a performer can produce?