Dramatic Interpretation and Tactics To Get What You Want

"Acting is not being emotional, but being able to express emotion." ~Kate Reid, Actress

There is truth in that logic.  It is never enough to simply pretend to be in a mood.  Anyone can be emotional.  Rather, a good actor knows how to fully express an emotion through various tactics and subtleties.  To illustrate Reid's definition of acting, let's do an exercise.  When told to be a particular emotion, do so; take time to demonstrate how to show that emotion.  Be angry.  Be sad.  Be sexy.  What did you notice about acting out those emotions?  Did you feel fake and like a caricature?  You should have.  In life people never go about saying they are going to be X.  Emotions are a response to stimuli or an attempt to elicit a response.  Dramatic Interpretation must be realistic and capture this notion.  How?  By using tactics.

As you analyze your Dramatic Interpretation find what is the overarching goal of a character.  What is it they want by the end?  All major actions should be in support of this desire.  Characters, and people, are driven by wants so to discover this will help you better understand your character as well.  Once you have the major want figured out you can begin to think of tactics to earn the desired object.  But what is a tactic?  It is a means to an end.  It is a device used to obtain and persuade another to give you something.  Tactics are the nature and subtext behind what you say/do and they lead you to honest emotions.  Tactics are also best when precise and in verb form.  For example, if you want your mom to take you to buy ice cream there are a few tactics you could use.  A mediocre tactic would be to say "ask her."  That's a given, and it's more of the result of using a tactic--like a by-product.  Better choices would be to use flattery or to beg.  Another example could be if you were playing a girlfriend trying to persuade her boyfriend to stay.  You could make the general choice to "yell" and get "emotional" to keep him, but your acting would be empty.  If you instead asked what is a way you could get him to stay, you might opt to "plead."  These tactics have clear game-plans.  Can you sense the difference in emotional weight and breadth choosing powerful tactics can lead you to?

Some basics to bear in mind:

  • Break your script up. You will have an overarching desire, but every interaction requires their own tactics.  Dramatic Interpretations are composed of scenes so first break down your tactics into scenes.  You might have to break further into short segments.  Look for natural breaks (new idea, question, change in something) and odds are you will find you need a tactic for that moment.
  • Rein in your inner dramatist. Although this is Dramatic Interpretation, do not let your tactics get the better of you and cause you to over-act. 
  • Wants stem from love. I cannot remember who wrote this, but an acting instructor wrote that all wants come from a place of love.  Take Richard III by Shakespeare.  Richard might do nasty evils and could be said to be murderous due to a want of revenge and hatred.  But when you truly examine his nature, all Richard really wants is to be accepted and loved, and because he has been denied these basic wants he feels hatred.  Anyway, when you choose tactics avoid ones like "get revenge."  These really give you no clear objective and instantly leads you to acting like the exercise you began with.  You might as well say "be mean."  This tiny clarification can add depth and range to your Dramatic Interpretation.

So as you mark-up your Dramatic Interpretation script do write in notes on methods of how you wish to deliver your lines.  It is always good to have an idea of how to speak.  However, to attain that needed emotion you can benefit from thinking of tactics to give you an objective of how to get what you need and want.  We do this in life, though we rarely realize.  Tactics are yet one more way to add a layer of truth to your Dramatic Interpretation.