Wednesday, April 08, 2015

When Words Don't Work

Sometimes it's easy to get lost in the lines. They give such a nice structure, a cushion, almost like a blanket. Scripts are nice that way. Plays and screenplays are good, constant, acting companions. When in doubt, reach for the blanky and it will make everything better.

It often does. When words are in the right place, the character can be found, sussed out, accessed through the text. What is said is, after all, an extension of the character's wants.

But sometimes, if for no other reason but to change it up (or if the text is not as strong as it might be), maybe we should find what to do without words. What if your character couldn't speak, what then? Instantly I can imagine the stakes feeling higher, need more desperate, and as tactics constrict, pushing against the wordless trap could intensify or even clarify things.

What isn't said? What can't be said? What won't be said, and screams its silence. These are moments of both drama and comedy that we all live, and know. When inexplicably you simply couldn't say, "I love you, don't go," so they did go. When somehow the shock, or shame, or something else that defies articulation defined an instant, and then echoed into a string of days to promise a life of incomprehensible regret. These instances, small and big, where words simply didn't come or couldn't do justice are just as much part of our character's arc and life as the things they utter.

It is not just acting between the lines. It is letting the person live and breathe, during which they may happen to have something said to or by them. The uncertainty of letting go of the blanky, that is sometimes where our work lies. It lies there, where the truth lives.

At least that is what my midday Wednesday musings tell me. Break a leg out there.

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this posted by David August at 1:45 PM 

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