Acting: Sighing on Stage

As an actor, you have only a couple of tools to communicate your director’s message:  Your voice, your body, your energy, and your attitude.  You need to keep your body healthy so that your directors and choreographers can portray their messages through you to audiences with blocking and dance.  Even how you move your wrist can give a different meaning to something.  How your back moves, what your eyes do, and how you hold your posture all tell part of the story (but we aren’t talking about this today).  Your energy, meaning your speed and how much you give and take energetically to the audience.  You know that dance troupe where they are all fantastic, but there is that one dancer that you can’t take your eye off of; well, she is probably giving off more energy than the rest of the dancers.  It doesn’t mean push your body harder (that’s your body); this is strictly energetic focus. 

RehearsalHaving a poor attitude (the lesser of the two attitudinal evils) from a bad day at work, a quarrel from a relationship, or dramas from the show WILL affect the audience’s complete acceptance and enjoyment of the story.  This isn’t to say that they won’t enjoy or accept the story at all (hopefully you’ve done a good enough job preparing for the role/show and that you can put it aside to do you job), but it will affect them regardless.  The worse attitude problem is an egotistical one.  I’m not saying that an egotistical attitude is the same as self-reliant, self-assured, or confident; I mean egotistical diva bitch, even when you try to keep it to your self.  This can turn an audience to not like the character you’ve worked so hard to create, or worse yet, the audience won’t sympathize with your character, having complete apathy.  They won’t cry for you, or find you funny.  They will find you amusing, but not funny because of your real life attitude.  It’s interesting how audiences can clue into your true personality, no matter how talented you are at deceiving (trying to be something your not – which we will talk about later as well). 

On this advice column, I’m going to yell at you.

DON’T EVER (under any circumstance) SIGH ON STAGE!

Your breath is the vessel your voice travels to tell the audience the story.  WHY WOULD YOU THROW IT AWAY?!  It is weak, wasteful, childish, amateurish, and careless.  If a director or playwright tells you *sigh*, vocalize.  You should never breathe out loudly to portray a message.

You must guide an audience on a journey.  Let’s use this as an example: 

Your audience are passengers on a trip at sea.  You are the boat.  It’s shell, your body.  It’s accessories (like cabin space, restaurant, etc.), your attitude.  Your equipment, your energy.  Your voice is your mast.  Without air, it is nothing.  And if you have a great breeze, but put your mast down, you aren’t taking your passengers anywhere.  You have a perfectly good mast and you just want to feel the breeze.  It isn’t about you feeling the breeze.  Feel it on your own time, sigh on your own time, tell the story when you are on stage. 

If in the event a director or playwright tells you to sigh, add sound, and chose your sound wisely.  Make sure it helps the story.  Your breath makes your body work and is precious.  You should never take it for granted, especially as a story teller while telling a story. 


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