Q: I’m looking for ideas for creative projects to work on while stuck inside. What can actors do to remain creative, collaborate, have fun, and stay active?—@Holden_Caulfield, Backstage Community Forums*
Here’s one project you can try while social distancing: Get a group of actor friends together and Google free screenplays. Meet up on Zoom and go through the sites. Choose a movie script you all like, and assign roles to everyone. Each person may wind up playing one major role as well as a few smaller roles.
Next, decide on the tone of the script. Is it light, dark, sad, outrageous? All of the actors now need to decide what their character’s main intent is for the movie and how they feel about the other characters. Break the script down into three acts. Note that the first act is the introductory act, the second act is where the main action takes place, and the third act wraps things up. Prepare act by act, noting the differences in your energy and your decisions as the story moves forward.
Then read the script scene by scene. The actors should decide what their intent is for each scene and how they’re feeling about the others at that moment. Remember that the overall intent and relationships are a culmination of the intents and feelings of each scene. Love may be the dominant emotion between two characters overall, but that love is made up of the specific experiences those people share scene by scene. None of this information should be shared with the other actors.
All of the actors must decide on the tone of each scene so that there’s cohesiveness in the storytelling. This is a fun step and often entails a good amount of creative discussion. When you’re done going through the entire screenplay this way, rehearse the whole thing and then tape it.
Have a Zoom viewing party for your version of the movie, and then watch the actual movie. Notice that there’s room for other interpretations, and that no matter how good the original actors were, they didn’t make your decisions. That’s what makes you unique.
Text, character development, and interaction—what more could you want in a project? Have fun!
*Submit questions for our Experts on Backstage’s Facebook or Twitter accounts or via our forums page at backstage.com/forums!
This story originally appeared in the Nov. 5 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.
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