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Industry Advice

Words on the Page: Gold or Garbage?

Distinguishing the script as your bible and when to throw it away.

Guest Post by WeAudition Member Anthony Ecclissi

I have been fortunate to meet so many wonderful actors in real life and now post-pandemic online using this essential platform. Coming across some memorable performances and personalities, I notice that sometimes we dim our own light to fit the words on the paper. This is where I see an actor hold back to fold to the page instead of instinctually feeling what they are feeling in the moment. Taping is a great way for us to practice and do a play by play of where changes can be explored and ‘auditioned’.

As a writer and director I want the same things as when I’m acting: authenticity, vulnerability and truth. Therefore a stage direction should never hinder your instinct during the rehearsal space. Once the script is on a shooting draft, then you should be married to most things, however, things change constantly in this business which is why flexibility is one of our greatest assets. You never know which talking hat will interfere to suggest that whatever is written on the page should be changed at that very instant. On set, you must be comfortable to adhere to the changes and speak up privately when you feel you may need to challenge them.

Meanwhile in the audition room… Have fun! You are an actor because you want to feel and stopping yourself from that because you think that ‘it’s not how the writer, director or casting director pictured the performance’ is unnatural. Do your homework, dissect the story and figure out why that character is there. What key words, beats, thoughts, emotions are you passing on that will transport the story and audience to the next scene? Sticking to the exact words in an audition is vital but feel free to improv your own cues, physical momentums and directing points. If you find yourself saying a line in rehearsal in a way that feels more natural to you then go with it but always make sure the written line isn’t untouchable because of the information it holds in the story.

In person or remotely, we have what live performance lacks: TAKES! Shoot as many as you want and deliver only the best. If you end up with one performance as written and another where you are more free to explore, then no one will stop you from sending in an alternate take if it’s deemed worthy.

Anthony Ecclissi

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