Acting Tip: Active Verbs, Schmactive Verbs!

    If you’re anything like me, finding an active verb for a scene is clinical and boring. The process always manages to disconnect me from the scene rather than ignite me. For me, the key to connection is finding a strong image. From there it’s much easier to hook the scene to my life and/or imagination.

    For example, I’m working on a very dramatic scene from Citizen Kane. In the scene, Kane’s second wife, Susan, stands up for herself in their marriage. She wants respect, she wants love, and she wants to be on equal footing with Kane. She’s fighting for her life because otherwise Kane will trample her.

    The image that is the strongest for me is David bringing down Goliath. David has had enough. He knows he might perish in the fight but he’d rather die than continue on the beaten path.

    From this image it was much easier to find a situation in my life where I knew I faced a bully and I was afraid of the consequences but had no choice if I wanted to maintain any self-respect. I simply couldn’t continue to live in the same way.

    I think the image system works better for modern actors. Finding active verbs worked well for actors of past generations because they were more literary. But in this day and age the moving image has replaced the word so we must find more visual ways of working.

    Try it and let me know if it works for you! And remember to have fun!