The problem of repetition

Here's a common problem. Someone does a brilliant improvisation, a brilliant impersonation, tell a brilliant story. They are witty, alive, dazzling as they tell it, and I want to put it in the show just as it is. It's perfect. But when they try to repeat it it doesn't work. They can't find the magic again. They repeat and repeat and but gets further and further away. They learn the lines. They rehearse and practise and look at videos and analyse it and work really hard. But they can't re-find the magic. If they tell a new story, and it happens again. They haven't lost the ability to be alive. But again it loses its magic when they repeat it. What is going on? Well what is usually going on,

Acting is reverse engineering

First you need to imagine what you want the audience to see. Then you need to figure out how to do it. Then you need to figure out what the thoughts behind it are. Theatre is made from the outside. It is hollow. The audience makes all sorts of assumptions from the behaviour of the people on stage, just as we make assumptions in real life. From those assumptions we draw conclusions. Your job as a performer, as an actor, is to know how to manipulate those assumptions. What you, the actor, think or feel is not important. What you make the audience feel is what matters. You need to know what you want the audience to think and feel, and then you can work on what you need to think and feel in orde

Help yourself!

When you're in a production there are things you can do something about, and things you can't. The script may not be any good. The production may not be any good. The other performers may not be any good. You may not be any good. You may be struggling with your performance. There isn't much you can do about those things in the course of one rehearsal period. But there are things you can do: Learn your lines Learn your cues Learn other people's lines Study the story Understand the motivation for everything you do - write it down Learn those motivations Practise your physical challenges - sword fighting, dancing, puppetry, loading a gun Look into the other versions of the story Read around the

The puppet's inner monologue

How do you know what the puppet is thinking? By looking at it. Everyone in the audience can tell you what it's thinking or isn't thinking. You have to tune into what they are thinking. The puppet is thinking whatever it looks like it is thinking. How do you tune into what the puppet looks like it's thinking? You think the internal monologue of the puppet. You connect the internal monologue to the movements of the puppet. You ask someone on the outside to tell you what the puppet is thinking. What is the internal monologue? The internal monologue is a progression of thoughts that gets you from one thought to the next to the next. If the puppet is silent then it gets you from move to move. If

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