Scene Study Questions & Tools by Eric Stone

Scene study is a different process than cold reading. Cold reading is immediate, heightened, choices are made to give a “performance“.  Scene study is a “process“, a day-to-day discovery of the play structure, its spine and theme as well as a discovery and exploration of who the characters are.  The play reveals itself slowly from “ground zero”.

Reading the play or script…

#1 What is the overall meaning or theme of the play?  What is the message?  * All worthwhile themes aim at making whole and healing.  The actor contributes to articulating the message the author is trying to convey.

#2 Consider the implications of any historical or sociological restraints/ anchors and how they add to the meaning of the piece and likewise the characters.

#3 Establish the event of the play, and the event in the chosen scene.

#4 What is the arch of the story?  What is the arch of each character?  *The hero is generally the character that has the closest matching arch to the story itself.  An arch is the journey taken including struggles and successes, highs and lows.  Revelations and Mistakes…  Transformation.

#5 Identify what is delicate, sensitive, important, unusual, urgent, and confronting.  Probably there is a strong connection to the theme here.

#6 Antagonist/ Protagonist

Reading the scene…

#1 Circumstances circumstances circumstances!  Where?  When?  How did they get there?  Relationship.  Physical surroundings.  Exact and detailed.  Objective.  What do the characters want and how do they plan to get it.

#2 DYNAMIC!!! Have fun finding one that inspires you.  Get used to using non-literal imagery.  Look for the trap and the support in what each character wants and how they plan to get it.  “As If…”

#3 Again the event of the scene, and how the beats play to it.  Look at the beats!

#4 Pursuits and how they relate to Longing vs. Weakness.  *Weakness of the character is played in the foreground while the longing is played in the background.  Don’t be too kind to your characters here, or condemn them either.  Look closely at what they do and do not do- what they say they do and whether they do it or not.

#5 Monologues- Identify whom you are speaking to exactly and the details of the relationship.  Map out all the details of your circumstances.

Starting rehearsals…

#1 Where are the characters inviting you to go?  Experiment with voice, mannerisms, and rhythms- anything and everything can go so long as you are checked into your partner and dancing with what they are giving you.  *Generally it is a good idea to approach a character against the stereotype of their lines.  For example if the character reads as a hard bitch, approach her with vulnerability or sweetness.

#2 Establish working only in a dynamic and a physical life.  Avoid traps.  Develop a clean and present way of working.

#3 Scoring.  Get anchored in your body and the setting.  Hang in the space with the full weight of your body.

#4 Atmosphere. Use your imagination!  Have fun with non-literal imagery.  *Atmosphere is the joining of all the elements- the world the event takes place in.  Characters work inside their own atmospheres as well as working in and effecting the atmosphere of the entire scene.

Longing/ Spirit             Pursuit/ Mind                   Scoring/ Body

Tools and Games to try out…

#1 Ideal Scene-

#2 Changing Roles-

#3 Pillow/ Ball Exchange- to help establish an exchange of actions and also helps get the game up and fun when lagging.

#4 Add the Character’s Longing onto the end of each line-

#5 Play the Scene as Poorly as You Can- to get you out of yourself and to let go of what you think it ought to look like.

#6 Meisner Exercises- to get present, aware and in action

#7 Choose a Theme Song for Your Character-

#8 Interior Monologue of Details- how you got where you are, physical state, what you ate for dinner and how… PHYSICAL DETAILS

#9 Dress the part- spend time surrounded by details and creating details of how your character lives.

About Actors_Studio_Hollywood

Eric Stone also known as artist Philippe Benichou first studied privately in New York with Herbert Berghof, Uta Hagen, Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, William Hickey, Tony Allen, Austin Pendleton & Bob Mc Andrew from the Wynn Handman Studio. Eric is well versed in most major acting techniques and ideas of the 20th Century including the Meisner and Russian actor and director Michael Checkhov Techniques. Michael Checkov was famous playwright Anton Checkov's cousin. Eric Stone was made an Honorary member of the famed New York Actors Studio in 1981 and was accepted as a student in Uta Hagen's highly acclaimed scene study class that same year. In addition, Mr. Stone was privileged to work with Judith Unland in New York. Ms. Unland had been a private student of Michael Checkhov. "Michael Checkhov's breakthrough work in freeing the actor has greatly influenced me and still continues to amaze me." Eric Stone Eric Stone first began teaching in 1983 and has contributed to the growth and success of many actors and performers including some well known stars in the US and abroad. As his acting, directorial and coaching skills began to represent a potent body of distinctions, Eric realized it was time to make his discoveries and love of acting more public. He founded the Eric Stone Studio in 1989 in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara and began touring with weekend workshops around the country. An ongoing program was designed via classes, privates, intensive workshops and seminars. His sheer passion for artistic expression and his relentless pursuit of freeing the actor led Eric to establish a permanent actor's studio. A safe, clean, non-gaming, healthy, creative and empowering "arena" for people to hone, discover and challenge their spirits to more desirable heights of experience. This approach is focused entirely on training the individual artist not delivering a general system to a group or mass. It is the strength, success and competitive edge of this training. By aiming straight at the individual, it becomes easier to understand the actor's specific needs, talents and possible problem areas.
This entry was posted in Scene Study Technique and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *