Vocalizing Your Subtext

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Yesterday in class, Suzanna continued with her exercises to get us to be consistently giving our best. Usually, the first take is like a warm up, and then every subsequent take gets better, with us really finding our way near the end of the scene. This week, we had to vocalize our subtext before she called action, so that everything that was supposed to be boiling inside of us was already out there and completely on our minds.

To explain exactly what we were doing, we were basically given a minute or so to vent our frustrations, in character, before the scene started. Because life doesn’t happen in isolated scenes, there is always a moment before, and unless your character dies in the scene, a moment after. In my case, I was upset at my brother-in-law, as well as at my babydaddy, and underneath all the frustration, I am terrified that I will have to do it all alone and have made a terrible mess of my life.

The first take, we didn’t actually do the exercise, so much as Suzanna asked us a bunch of questions about our moments before, how we were feeling, what our goals and preoccupations were. Our scene was from Knocked Up, which is a comedy, but I was hurt by his answers and actions, and let the emotions turn it more into a drama. I think it would have been fine if we had just picked up the script and done it without knowing it was a comedy, but that wasn’t the case.

So, the second take, we vocalized our subtext. Instead of answering questions that led to the deeper meaning of what was bothering me, I just expressed how angry I was about everything. The frustration was much more fitting for the scene, and managed to bring out the comedy. So much so that Suzanna didn’t have us do a 3rd take, because she had no notes for things that we should change or do better.

It was an interesting class, and I got to firgure out my life on the ride home with Carolyne 😉

“I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early.”

“But if I’m honest with myself, I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. I didn’t want to seem “difficult” or “spoiled.””

“I’m over trying to find the “adorable” way to state my opinion and still be likable!”

-Jennifer Lawrence in her Lenny Letter. If you are subscribed, check your inbox and if not, click to read it online (and also sign up). Definitely worth a read 😉

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