DIRECTING THE ACTOR for radio drama

 SUBTEXT - unspoken thoughts and motives under the dialogue - content underneath
 CHOICES - you discover the different CHOICES for each line and phrase - the final CHOICE becomes the actor's OBJECTIVE
 OBJECTIVE - What the character is trying to achieve at any one point or overall - the result of work on CHOICES
 ADJUSTMENTS (BELOW) - new tactic by the character to gain the OBJECTIVE
 COUGHS AND COLDS - a disaster possibly
 Your work as a radio drama director - checklist - redrafting - preparation - good relations in the Studio - directing style - dangers

PRODUCTION - team - working out of sequence - in studio- OB - check the actors

 This gives you only the 'bullet points'. Learn about radio drama acting in my book -

Beck, Alan, Radio Acting, London: A & C Black (1997) ISBN 0-7136-4631-4


These are clear questions and answers - and the answers are often obvious. And they should be.

'CHOICES-OBJECTIVE' TECHNIQUE should result in better, focused acting.

At every point, the actor must have a clear objective.

 SCENE OBJECTIVE: What the character is trying to achieve in a section of dialogue or a scene. Actor must ask (as character) 'What do I want?'
The SCENE OBJECTIVE carries the character through this particular scene. Also something that the character must achieve in that scene.
 There is only one SCENE OBJECTIVE for each character in each scene.
  A problem about the SCENE OBJECTIVE for a character? Does this scene need redrafting? Should there be two scenes? Is this scene too long?
 That OBJECTIVE may or may not be achieved in that scene - frequently not.
 The character will be opposed by the OBSTACLE - resists the efforts of the character to achieve the OBJECTIVE.


 OTHER CHARACTER OBSTACLE - The OBSTACLE created by the behaviour of other character(s) in the scene.
 INTERNAL OBSTACLE - Something in the character's own psychological makeup that is getting in the way of achieving the OBJECTIVE.
 UNCONSCIOUS OBJECTIVE (PSYCHOLOGICAL OBJECTIVE) - What unconsciously drives the character. Often the opposite of the CONSCIOUS OBJECTIVE. The character is unaware of the UNCONSCIOUS OBJECTIVE. However the actor is aware of it and this will affect his or her performance. As director, you must note for the actor if this is not sufficiently shown in the subtext or if it is too obviously made by the actor into an EXTERNAL OBSTACLE.
 ENVIRONMENTAL OBSTACLE - An external force that is getting in the way of the character achieving his or her OBJECTIVE.
 PHYSICAL OBSTACLE - An OBSTACLE created by the physical environment (location, weather, time, natural disaster, etc.)
 SOCIETY OBSTACLE - An OBSTACLE created by social values, customs and mores.

Look at the dynamics of the scene, the flow of energy back and forth.



 ADJUSTMENT: A new tactic by the character to gain the OBJECTIVE. When an ACTION does not seem to be working the character makes an ADJUSTMENT. A new ACTION is chosen.



A scene from 'Wrap Pack' - comedy - good for illustrating directing tehnique

Here is the rule about comedy: TAKE THE COMIC OBJECTIVE EVERY TIME.

LOOK AT THE SCRIPT 'Wrap Pack' - Scenes 1-1-2, 1-1-4 one male, one female (Jack, Sarah)

Answer these questions, as director of this scene.


 Jack - number three operative in the company, funny, a flawed hero, early 20s, street-wise, but not as clever and experienced and sophisticated as he thinks he is. He is constantly deflated in his chat-up lines. STREETWISE BOY - ATTRACTIVE, FASHIONABLE, BUT OVER-REACHES HIMSELF, TOO CONFIDENT, FLIRTS WITH ALL
 Sarah - early 20s, makes film props. Can she see through Jack? She is determined and professional. How does she feel about being chatted up by Jack? INEXPERIENCED BUT LOVELY GIRL WE ALL LOVE - sympathetic, starting-out, endearing, attractive, makes mistakes but is rescued

What is Jack's objective in this scene? - 'I want to score with Sarah'.

What is Sarah's objective? There is a comic build-up here - a misunderstanding, as the listeners will find out.

'I want to show Jack the prop I am so proud of.'

What are the OBSTACLES? What resists the efforts of the characters to achieve their OBJECTIVES?

What is Jack's OBSTACLE?

It is OTHER CHARACTER OBSTACLE - The OBSTACLE created by the behaviour of other character(s) in the scene.

Sarah does not respond to his chat up routine, she does not 'get it' as a social situation. She asks awkward factual questions. (This contributes to the comedy of the scene.)

INTERNAL OBSTACLE: Something in the character's own psychological makeup that is getting in the way of achieving the OBJECTIVE.

Jack is not skilled enough at chat-up lines.

Sarah is concerned about her prop business and does not realise she is being chatted up.


 'Wrap Pack' - SCENE 1-1-2 - detailed directing notes


JACK: So she said… "Your social liaisons are a liability and I cannot let you jeopardise this deal Flanagan" and… and I thought, there is no way I will take that kind of abuse. "I didn't sign on to this company, nor… nor graft some serious hard work - and talent - for it so I could be treated in such a way…

[NOTE: You direct SARAH to do more than one reaction - technically termed the 'umms' - and see Getting PRESENCE into the scene - the sense of a character being 'in'.

You have to establish that JACK is not speaking into the air without a context. You could also add something in the text to get JACK to name SARAH.

This also gives the audience some sense of who is there in the conversation - see top of scene (technique). You have to do a lot as director and sound designer at the top of the scene. Jack is showing his objective here. This is much more than the apparent text. This is really about the subtext. Jack is trying to chat Sarah up.]

SARAH: Oh Jack.

[NOTE: Difficult this. The actress has to establish herself in such short phrases. And that is up to the qualities of her voice, and to your casting.]

JACK …so I left.

SARAH: You left the company?

JACK: No. The room.

[NOTE: Jack is not as sophisticated as he thinks he is. He comically lets himself down by not being able to make an adjustment so that he does not lose face. The fun is that poor Jack reveals his whole hand.]

SARAH: So what exactly do you do Jack?

[NOTE: You and Sarah have to make a decision about her character here, her OBJECTIVE, and how this all serves the comedy of the scene. TAKE THE COMIC OPTION EVERY TIME.]

JACK: I'm a location finder. I work for "Default Settings" - our company......


Like, for instance, you make props, right? And, this film we're on at the mo.... The.. err… The Chalice Of The Black Prince or whatever. While you're building these props, safely in the comfort of your own home. I'm off… dangerously searching for suitable locations for them to shoot their scenes.

SARAH: (TURNED ON) Danger? Mmmm you are brave. What dangerous locations do you have lined up for this film?

JACK: Canterbury High Street.

SARAH: (DEFLATED) Oh. Say, if you're interested, I would love to show you some of my work.

JACK: Yeah?

SARAH: At home.

JACK: At home you say? Well I guess that could be okay.

SARAH: I mean my work's not dangerous like yours.

JACK: Few jobs are.





BEAT: A significant change in the scene. A stretch of dialogue that lasts for one objective.

ACTION: The means a character uses to achieve his or her OBJECTIVE. The ACTION must take the form of an active verb; i.e. to charm, to needle, to seduce, to pressure, to conceal, etc.

CHARACTER BEAT: The change created when a single character makes an ADJUSTMENT and chooses a new ACTION.

ACTIVITY: A physical task.

WINDOW OF TRUE NATURE: Moments within the scene where the true nature, or true feelings or thoughts of the character are revealed. This is often the place where the UNCONSCIOUS OBJECTIVE of the character makes itself known.

See Felner, Mira, Free to act. An integrated approach to acting, New York: Hawthorn, 1990, Chapter 9

Actions as Tactical Adjustments

'If your actions are the means of achieving your objectives, then as obstacles impede victory, you must change your course of action to overcome each new obstacle. This requires seeing your actions as tactics in the pursuit of your objective. .... Each change of action in function of a change in circumstances is called an adjustment. .... It is important to think in terms of dynamic actions that give life and energy to your acting. '


Acting Manuals
Felner, Mira, Free to act. An integrated approach to acting, New York: Hawthorn, 1990
Hagen, Uta, Respect for acting, USA: Macmillan, 1973
Cohen, Robert, An Introduction to Acting, 1978, London: Mayfield

To Acting - some key terms from Mira Felner, Free To Act





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