For Your Best Performance, Throw Out Your Plan

When an actor comes to study with me for an audition, the first thing we do is “kill the plan.” Somewhere in their preparation, they’ve had what I call the “performance fantasy.” Instead of imagining the world of the character and really exploring those lines and what they mean, they’ve imagined how they will play the scene.

Among early-career actors, there’s a perception that their power is in direct proportion to their ability to be emotional. As a result, their audition usually consists of some histrionics, a big dramatic moment, and a “button” at the end of the scene. (Usually an ad-libbed line or bit of behavior.)

The problem here is that it limits possibilities and ultimately leads to a predictable performance. The audience starts to see the plan: the actor has everything lined up just right and if they’re any good, they will deliver an energized and possibly entertaining performance.

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