Like objectives and actions, facts can be a simple way to flesh out a role or save a floundering scene. A good script offers a number of pre-set facts—or given circumstances—from which to draw. While some actors stop there, facts have more to yield than what most plays or screenwriters offer.
Imagine rehearsing a breakup scene that’s falling flat. The writer has given you a bit of background information on your character, maybe the setting and the time. You could go with that, sure, but why not add more texture to the scene, more specifics? Think of the power of choosing just one of these facts: Right before you met up with your soon-to-be ex-lover, you got a promotion. Or were fired. Or your doctor called and asked you to return for more tests—he found something suspicious. Or you met a handsome stranger on the subway and gave him your number. Maybe you are planning to dump your lover as you walk into the room. Maybe you found out you are pregnant. Or had a miscarriage. Perhaps your lover is wearing the jacket you gave him for your anniversary last month. Or you have an engagement ring in your pocket.
The options are endless, each giving you ammunition to play the scene with more clarity and precision, more energy, than without. Facts let you build beyond the foundation of your given circumstances. They help your character become a human being.
Jackie Apodaca is an associate professor and the head of performance at Southern Oregon University.