Now that you have identified what your character is thinking, what they are looking at and reacting to, and what they want you are ready to go back and decide what action belongs in the circles you drew on the action music on Day 1.
How to choose action for the action music.
Go back to the “Mental Movie Reel” exercise. Instead of starting with a blank canvas take a moment to picture everything you have decided this far. Play the music back and listen specifically for the moments you circled. Are there actions that just make sense or that would add interest or detail to your character given your previous decisions? If so write those actions in the circles.
Remember our goal is almost always to have the matching music and words match everything else we decide. If one part of it doesn’t match it will come across as a lie to the audience on a subconscious level if not conscious level.
If you have been writing in pencil get ready with your eraser. There is not just one right answer so if something doesn’t match go back and explore what would need to happen so it does all match and is true to the context, your WOTEs, your arrows, and your subtext and inner-monologue. If there is more than one right answer write them all in an experiment with which one feels the best.
Remember when we talked about being committed to the process of amendment? Choosing the actions is one of the points where you need to be ready for rethinking things. It might be that the director gives you blocking that doesn’t mesh with what you have come up with. It might be that the timing just doesn’t line up correctly. It might be that you aren’t sure what is wrong but it just doesn’t feel right. If you are struggling, instead of trying to make actions fit into the world defined by your previous decisions go back in the process and see if you can spot what is causing the problem. You will find that sometimes there is a simple change you can make to your context, the arrows, or WOTEs that will bring everything into line.
Who’s music is it anyway?
So far we have been talking about a song with one singer. What about when there is more than one singer or if multiple people are part of the scene that is happening on stage? If this is the case, then the person who’s music it is needs to be going through this process. If the music is not your music and the words are not your words then you are not necessarily tied to the musical demands. In these kinds of moments, you have to decide who’s music is being played at this moment. The easiest way to figure this out is by asking yourself, “Who’s inner world or external actions does this music most likely represent?” The music can be more than one person’s music or only one person’s music out of a huge group onstage. Take the time to define who’s it is when you have more than one person as the potential focal point on stage.
- Make it too complicated. Keep it simple. One word or two max in each circle per possible action. If you have multiple options write them down and test them until you decide then make it clear in writing which one you chose.
- Make it too subtle. If the audience can tell what you are doing what is the point?
- Not write it down. Don’t brainstorm and expect to remember what you thought of. Write it down. This has the secondary benefit of when you come back to this piece in 10 years you will only have to look back at this piece of music to remember everything you had already done.
- Not explore the possible options. As previously discussed, don’t just settle with your first more obvious choice. Work to find a way that only your character would express that line. Make it unique!