THEA 1520 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1-10: Michael Shurtleff, Guideposts, Sound Stage
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Audition by Michael Shurtleff: Reading Notes
1. Relationships - how to create them on stage.
2. Conflict - what are you fighting for?
3. The moment before - how to start a scene.
4. Humor - why jokes don’t work.
5. Opposite - finding the hidden tension in your scene.
6. Discoveries - making things happen for the first time.
7. Communication and competition - reaching the other actor.
8. Importance - locating the dramatic score.
9. Find the events - what is really happening in the play?
10. Place - create it on a bare stage.
11. Game playing and role playing - play them for reality.
12. Mystery and secret - adding wonderment to the scene.
Guidepost 1: Relationship (P33-34)
Start with the question: What is my relationship to the other character in the scene I am about to
do? Facts are never enough…once you know the fact of the relationship, you are ready to explore
how you feel about this other character…you must go further, into the realm of the emotion. You
need to ask feeling questions about your emotional attitude toward the other character. Do you
love him? Do you hate him? Do you resent him? How much? Do you want to help him? Do you
want to get in his way? What do you want from him? What do you want him to give you? These
are the most important questions to ask. The answers to them will allow you to function
emotionally in the scene. That is your goal.
Guidepost 2: What are you fighting for? Conflict. (P42-44)
An actor is looking for conflict. Conflict is what creates drama. Maximum conflict is what you
should be looking for. Who is interfering with what you are fighting for? Do battle with her, fight
her, woo her, charm her, revile her. Find as many ways as you can to go about getting what you
are fighting for.
Guidepost 3: The Moment Before (P67-69)
Every scene you will ever act begins in the middle, and it is up to the actor to provide what comes
before. In order to create this moment before, before he enters, the actor may have to go back ten
or twenty years in the life of the character. It is like priming a motor to get it started. You have to
do a number on yourself, you have to talk to yourself, flay yourself into feeling, so that you are
aching to get on that stage or film set and start to fight.
Guidepost 4: Humor (P74-76)
Humor is not jokes. Humor is not being funny. It is the coin of exchange between human beings
that makes it possible for us to get through the day. Humor exists even in the humorless. There is
humor in every scene, just as there is in every situation in life. ..I have trouble believing in the
seriousness of a scene in which there is no humor; it is unlike life. And yet actors will say to me,
“How can I find humor in this scene? It’s very serious!” For the exact same reason one would be
driven to find humor in the same situation in life: because it is deadly serious and human beings
cannot bear all that heavy weight, they alleviate the burden by humor.
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