August 18, 2022
What is script analysis? In this video, we'll break it down. Script analysis is a series of questions. Those questions are based on 15 guidepost, six viewpoints, four parts of vocal variation and the four agreements. Be aware of memorization. You know, everybody always thinks it's about memorizing lines and I remember when I thought it was about that and that's why you lose a line or you drop a line because it's not fully personalized. Because you didn't ask those questions. Because when's the last time in a heated discussion with someone you said, and another thing. Why? Did you ever do that? No, you didn't do it. Because you were emotionally connected to what was happening. So, beware of the dreaded memorization. We broke this down one night I go, why do actors lose lines? And what do they think it's about memorization?
I was in the school play. were you in the school play? I bet you were. The first one, I played Santa Claus in second grade, great time. The next one was I was the narrator in the Christmas play holding a flashlight with a paper cone and then as a senior in high school, I did three plays, first of which was Our Town by Thorton Wilder. The second, which was The Apple Tree musical, originally directed by Mike Nichols. And the third one was Black Comedy by Peter Shaffer, who would go on to write Equus and write Amadeus, and we took that to the New York
State drama competition, and we finished first in the state. Which is crazy, because we all were doing British accents too. But I digress, I tell you all of this, because deep inside of all of us is memorizing has something to do with acting, but it's actually the opposite. So, I remember my Uncle Jack coming up to me after the school play and going, oh, my gosh, Thomas. How do you remember all those lines? How do you memorize them? You were affirmed that you have a good memory, you should be an actor. But memorizing lines leads to very
flat performances. Never ever, and it's also the way you analyze the script. What is script analysis? You know, actors look at a monologue and immediately, they're scared because it's this big chunk of words. But it's just a series of now moments. You weren't taught most probably unless you had an exceptional teacher. I did, but he still doesn't teach me this stuff. How to rehearse? And you must rehearse slowly, analytically and later, you're going to perform swiftly. But you never just run this over and over and over again, to see if you know it.
You rehearse it a little bit, a little bit, bit, bit, bit, bit, bit, bit bit bit, little bit a little bit, not just running. Because again, that will flatten everything out and that means you're equating these words as lines that are not fully personalized yet and it's very difficult when you memorize
to then go backwards and personalize..
I want you to substitute the word memorize with personalized because it's how do I feel about everything, right? How do I feel about the decor in this room? How do I feel about the temperature? How do I feel about the people in this room? How do I feel about the drink I was served? How do I feel about everything? Memorization tends to whitewash all that with Benjamin Moore linen white. Remember, folks acting is
never done with a roller, right? It's you know, a little Scarlet, a little Indigo, a little chartreuse, right? It's, it's a whole palette, and you don't want to flatten it out. That's what memorization does. In the actor's life and all of our lives, there are many things we cannot control. But there are things we can and what you can control is your constant state of preparation. Work on your voice, or work on your speech, work on your body, keep it strong, keep it flexible. But the most rarefied of the skills that one must cultivate the ability to analyze a script. Make bold epic choices. I meet actors all the time. They're like, well, you know, I really want to be an actor and my first question is, at what level do you want to be an actor? My experience with working with some of the most visible actors in the world is they all were on a mission to be that when I met them,
and they were not that thing yet. So, if you want to just be you know, the actors think like, well, if I'm just in a movie somehow get elevated to being a lead one day, I go. No, It doesn't work like that. You have to aim at being that and how do you be that thing?
Because otherwise, you know, I want to be an actor. Okay, a few days, a year you get a day player gig or a bit gig and maybe, some years you qualify for health insurance, because you get enough days of work and you make enough income. But other years you don't. Lead actors lead the way with bold, epic choices. So, how do I get to those bold, epic choices? Well, if you started with just memorizing well, you're teaching yourself how not to rehearse. So, the memorizing part is the left side of your brain. But the emotional stuff, the stuff that's uniquely you is the
right side of your brain, and the other danger of memorization which is the opposite of script analysis is it will lead you to flat one-dimensional performance. Because you are now welded to one way of doing it. You know, in auditions we conduct sometimes we really like what you're doing, or we really like some of what you're doing.
So, we're going to give you what is termed an adjustment or a direction, and I have seen actors who memorize those lines very well. When we send them into another direction, they just lose the words and they can't do it. Because you know, they were controlling this one way of doing it that for the most part was one-dimensional. Never judge the character you play, you must be the character's best advocate, and all of us are multi dimensional. We all have many, many facets and colors, some of which you don't let anybody see or maybe one person. So, think of ideas, not words and sentences. Remember, folks life is visceral, it's feeling, it's not grammatical. A giveaway in your script analysis is if you're pausing for periods, or commas, or semi colons or colons. You don't want to do that, because we never talked that way. When we're feeling something it flows, think and feel longer thoughts. So, back to 15 guideposts. So, the first one is relationship. Number two is conflict. What am I fighting for? How am I meddling? Number three is the moment before. Number four is humor. Where's their humor? Number five is opposites. Number six is discoveries. Number seven is communication and competition. Number eight is importance. Number nine is find the events. Number ten is place. Number eleven is game-playing and role-playing. Number twelve is mystery and secret. Number thirteen is mischief. Number 14 is vulnerability and number 15, architecture.
Those are all questions. So, the viewpoints, those are all questions. Time, space, shape, movements, story, emotion. Four parts of vocal variation, rate, inflection, pitch dynamic, written vertically. RIPD, RIPD, why you want your voice to be ripped? Where does the rate increase? Where does it slow down? Where the inflections go up? Or do they go down-pitch? Sometimes I'm down here and other times it's what? Dynamics louder, softer, that was an opposite. So, four agreements, don't take anything personally, always do your best. Be impeccable with your word. Don't make assumptions. Those are the tools of script analysis. Find most actors when I first meet them. This is a revelation. Now, folks, I will tell you having taught at some fancy theater schools and having attended one, that these questions were not taught to us, we did not leave knowing how to analyze the script. Really, we just knew that sometimes the faculty liked our work, and sometimes not so much. But in hindsight, I can see that was largely a product of good casting. You weren't playing the grandma, in this play. You were playing the vital 20-year-old that you really are and the next time is going to be thought to be more effective in the last play. Right, I wasn't playing a great grandmother at 20 years old and they'll tell you well, you know, that was a stretch that we're doing and it's good for you. Well, I don't know how good for you it really was.
I just think that somebody had to play the part and everybody was pretty close to the same age. So, sometimes you drew the wrong straw, and you had to play the octogenarian. You know, I started in an era where you really wouldn't have thought of being a director unless you're trained as an actor, and that was Peter Bogdanovich. Who we just recently last met Mike Nichols, on and, on and, on Arthur Penn, Bonnie, and Clyde all these guys were actors for us. So, they had the actor's language and they could talk to actors. Because actors love to say you know, I'm really great at taking direction. You're gonna be can't rely on getting direction. You because there's in film and TV, there's virtually no rehearsal. So, you've got to come up with that and that all comes back to your ability to analyze a script. Because I am here to tell you on the day, you will be expected to deliver a polished performance only with your own rehearsal time, this study is storytelling. So, think of yourself more as a storyteller. Storytelling tends to be out there and acting tends to be more about me. So, things storyteller. Highlight what other characters say about you in the script. Those are clues for you as to how you might play this, but let go of right or wrong. You know, I'm always amazed, we've auditioned far too many actors that came in where we could feel their need to do a good job.
Stella Adler said to us, the actor who must succeed, whatever that means, will always fail. Because it'll never feel like enough and now, you're bringing your own egoic self esteem needs to this project, and we can't even see the play. We in production do not want to feel responsible for your self-esteem. You know, when actors come in, it's like, well, what if, what if I make the wrong choice? Well, there's no wrong choices, there's just a choice, and then there's a stronger choice, and then there's the strongest choice, and the more you study this stuff, you will gravitate first time to the strongest choice. Why not? Well, what if these people don't like me? So what? They don't like you, not your tribe and as long as you're in that people pleasing and gaining, right or wrong place you'll never cultivate your own point of view, and your point of view is your talent, and then miraculously, your pals will emerge, right? So, I had to seek my own good opinion. Friends, think about Martin Scorsese, and Robert De Niro. They both started out, broke, little short films, etc. became best friends, and not only were they best friends, are they best friends, they did six movies together, and I don't think they're done yet. So, dive deep, that's where the pearls are and if you want to dive even deeper, subscribe below. So, we'll talk briefly about over-analysis. If you're reading for two lines, or three lines, they will not support 15 guideposts, 6 viewpoints, 4 parts of vocal variation, the 4 agreements. Then you need not do the text 250 times aloud, you could do it 50 times because maybe it's still well, party of nine, your tables ready, right this way, cut.
Now, I'm not gonna get a whole lot of acting values in that. Heaven forbid, you should say still well, party of nine. Your table's ready. Right, this way. You know, it's gonna be cut, cut, cut. What are you doing? So, beware of that, those roles we call functionaries. Right they're, just like the little adhesive. But I don't know, I haven't met many people that that's the goal is to play roles like that and not progress beyond. There will never be a shortcut to being a really powerful actor without having a really strong voice, particularly if you want to work in the theater eight times a week and you've got the stamina to do that, having a muscularity of speech. So, people can understand you and you're not mumbles and again, the more rarefied skill is your ability to break down a text. Because if you go right to the memorizing of the words, you've memorized what? Makes sense, right? The neophyte actors says this is a dramatic scene. Now, this is a comedic scene. Now, folks in the breakdowns, sometimes it'll be sent out that way. Forget that because the people that wrote that they're just looking for an overall tone, but that's where you need to come in. Write down everything is everything all the time, right?
Is it life tragic and comic? Those are those two masks of the theater, right this one, and this one, right? It's both all the time. Some days are more tragic. Some days are more comedic. Some days are pretty sexy. Some days not so much. So, everything is everything. Think of your favorite television show. In this household, we really love The Sopranos, landmark television, could be very funny. Isn't it interesting, mob guy going to see a therapist. You've never seen that before. They actually, get a riff on that with analyze this because that's a funny setup, mob guy needs therapy. But then in a heartbeat that show could be terrifying, Right? And then it could be really sexy. So, the reason it was landmark television is you couldn't get ahead of it. We love that. ER ran for 15 years, you know, heartbreaking, heart wrenching, funny, sexy. You know your job folks write down the physics of performance. There's a real physics to why something holds your attention, and why you can't wait till the next episode. One of the adorable things about Emily is we'll be watching a show because I'm the social director, anything we're gonna watch or a concert, we're gonna go see her play, I do all of that. She never has anything to do with that, because boy, she has enough to do already. But we'll watch a show and she'll be we have another one? And if I say no. She'll be, she's really crestfallen because she got caught up in it.
The physics of why we can break it down to physics and that's what we mean by script analysis. It's gotta have the hips, it's gotta have heart, or you're not gonna care about it, and in my heart, the humor lives also between the heart and the head, and the audience must never be able to get ahead of it, and that's why when you keep playing the opposite, guidepost five, you keep playing the opposite of I thought you were going this way and suddenly it took a turn and then suddenly went up, and then suddenly it went down, that's it's a roller coaster. Why do people ride roller coasters? There's a certain we like roller coasters. There's a certain unpredictability to that, right? Remember, we need two things from you as an actor. We need reliability. We need to know that you know how to practice the art of showing up early, on time is early. But at the same time, when you're going to be prepared, boy scouts be prepared, we need that. But we also need you to be unpredictable and that's the challenging part about being an actor. You have to train yourself to live in those two sides of the brain, and to live in all of the chakras of the major seven chakras. The big three, the hips, the heart in the head, then the other ones will follow. So, beware of the myth of overnight success. We're always combating this idea that actors are just born, totally false.
It's a skill set, It's teachable, It's learnable, and you must learn. Why? A lot of times the writings not so great, particularly when you're starting out. So, you must have a technique that's stronger than the writing and then you will find you started to get a lot of jobs, why? You'll get feedback, like she found things that nobody found. right, but you can't rely on subjective responses. You know, actors think, oh wow, this part is me. Did you read the breakdown, it's my childhood and maybe, it's so close to you that when it comes time to audition, you lock up. A wall suddenly comes up because it triggers something in you that to where you can barely talk. So, that's why you or other times you'll read it and go I don't relate to this at all going well, right? But this is not going to feed you for the next 60 years. So, acting technique, script analysis, tech. It's technical, it looks spontaneous, but it's a result of technical choices you're making so, make them. You're having fun? Come see us on Saturday. It's a wild and wooly international community, you'll make friends for life come develop the unshakable skill set. Let's devise a strategy, see you Saturday.