Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Acting with adverbs

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In some instances, you will be able to satisfy a director’s request for a result without changing your analysis [of a scene]. This can be done by performing an action with an adverb chosen to help supply the result the director is looking for. For example, you are playing a scene where the character is telling his wife he’s just won the lottery. The action you have chosen is convincing a loved one I’m on the level, and it is as if you’re telling your brother that your parents are giving you a trip around the world. The director tells you that he needs you to be more excited. Rather than changing an accurate and fun analysis, simply attach to the action the adverb quickly. This adverb tells you how you will go about doing the action. It is a physical, external adjustment…In choosing adverbs, you always want to look for ones that suggest a physical rather than an attitudinal adjustment. Adverbs such as slowly, loudly, ploddingly, haltingly, are fine. Ones such as jovially, lovingly, maternally, are not, because they require an emotional rather than a physical adjustment. Some adverbs fall between these two clearly defined groups—for example, sloppily, meticulously, exuberantly—and should be used only if the actor feels they do not put him in an emotional state.

A Practical Handbook for the Actor

Written by nevalalee

June 10, 2018 at 7:30 am

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