Thursday, 10 May 2012

Remember to Red-Team and Use Your Thumb

Two sets of Words of Wisdom this week.  The first comes from the military: operational planning.  Traditionally, friendly forces are designated 'blue' and the enemy are 'red.'  Red-teaming means, in the first place, looking at an operation from the enemy's point of view: how will they view the conflict and what will they try to do.  More specifically, it means using skilled operatives to test the security of defences and flag up any weaknesses, for example, by trying to smuggle explosives on to an airliner without being detected.  It's a way of being more effective by shifting the viewpoint.

This principle can be applied to sports and games.  For example in Chess, which is essentially a war game, it can often pay to get up, walk round the board and look at a position from the other player's point of view.  In Boxing, sparring partners will be chosen for their resemblance to a future opponent.  In Football training one side may adopt tactics expected to be used by the other team in the next match.

How does this apply to acting?  It's about looking at things from more than one point of view.  When preparing with a script for rehearsal don't focus solely on your own  part.  Look at all the parts so that you can see the script from every character's point of view.  Remember to Red-Team.

The other Words of Wisdom this week are a simple bit of technique.  When a group of actors are doing a script reading there is a tendency for everyone to bury themselves in the page in front of them - and go faster and faster into the bargain.  To avoid this deliver each line 'off the page' in other words addressing the line to the character you would be speaking to if you were on stage.  Problem: how do you keep your place when you're doing this?  Simple solution: keep your thumb opposite the line you are delivering then, when you return to the script your thumb will be there to guide you.  Use Your Thumb.