Scene Study: Notes from the Actors Foundry

Scene Notes as taken from Matthew Harrison
By Mariel Belanger

First and foremost you need to memorize ALL your lines. I recommend write them out – all of them (yours only) in one long paragraph. Then break it all down in chunks. Do that until the words are memorized. Find the “objective’ to each scene (there are 3 sub scenes in each scripted scene) The objective is the ‘want’ in the scene. What does your character want in this scene. What do you have to do to accomplish it. This is how you prepares for the scene.
This is how a scene should be broken down (script analysis- the building blocks to acting):

COR – of a scene ARC – Arch of a scene and AP

C-circumstance in the scene (what is going on? what is the situation)
O-objective in the scene (what do you want most from that person)
R-relationship in the scene (what is your relationship to the other person)

What is your ARC – structure of the scene

A-arch in the scene (positive experience turning negative? A negative turning positive? double negative? double positive?)
R-realization in the scene (what are you fighting for?)
C- cutting the scene in 3

and AP

A-actions (what is your verb (aka action) for each sentence, scene? What am I doing to the other person)
P-personalization/preparation what experience can you use to relate to the emotion of the scene.

ie… what did it feel like when you were told by your parents you had to do something you didn’t want to do? what was the trigger? Use the 5 W’s and H. Who what where when why how

What does it mean to your character? What does it mean to you?

learn the hopes and dreams and fears of your character. Build a personal history that you can relate to for your character. Become the character. Don’t write “well she is a….. and she likes…. and her mom….. Write I am a girl of 14 I like pb and j sammiches, MY mom and dad wanted me to….” Make it about you.

Make the strongest choices with your personalization’s. Don’t be vague. Don’t use “because i want to/didn’t want to” what was the exact moment/ feeling that lead you to come to the realization that you ‘wanted to/didn’t want to’ . Personal triggers help to build the bridge from raw emotion to achieving the scene objectives – the truth to the scene. It is either in tandem with the scene or opposite the scene. Every activity, verb, line in the scene should be really important, apply the ABC

A- difficult
B- urgent
C- imperative

Your life is difficult, urgent and imperative; don’t ever treat any moment otherwise.

Example. I had a scene where I had to ask tell my husband I wanted my son back after running out on them the year earlier.
For my preparation I wrote a bio of myself as my character. Who she was, what kind of life she had about her parents. Everything that could be relative to my character. Read the script and there are hints about who she is in there. Apply them to you in your bio writing.

Find the scene objective. Sometimes it is an actual line in the script. It is the most urgent need you have in the script

Mine was – To get my son back.

C – I came back after running out on them
O – to get my son back
R – wife to character in the scene.

My Expectation was that he was going to give me my son. The result is almost always opposite.

What else is the situation? What does it mean to the character?

I won’t be whole or complete —-> what do you need to be whole and complete? My son back

What is your insecurity sentence?
I won’t have respect.

Think…. What if it’s true? What if this was really happening to you. Make it real by fuelling it with your own personal emotions BUT always realize
– It is NOT about you, it’s about getting the story across that the write wrote. Focus as much as you can. The Actors job is to tell the story. Use the tools you have (raw emotions, experiences) and clue into self so you know what it would be like.

Know your truth and know you’re characters truth. If you find that your emotion is coming through and over powering – cap it. Feel the emotion, know it is there but put a lid on it and face the world like you don’t feel it. The intensity of that emotion will show through – DON’T ACT – feel, be, REACT. Listen and look at what the other actor is doing/saying.

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