You Hold the Power!

Appar­ently 93% of com­mu­nic­a­tion is beha­vi­our­al and 7% is verbal.

This is hugely free­ing for us actors. The text is only a small part of the audi­ence exper­i­ence, which means that we have way more respons­ib­il­ity as well as oppor­tun­ity than we some­times think.

I don’t know about you but I always felt slightly sub­ser­vi­ent to the play text. I felt inad­equately equipped to deal with it. Like I had to stretch and strain in order to give it everything it required. Maybe it was some­thing to do with my upbring­ing, my own feel­ings about my poor intel­lec­tu­al capa­cit­ies or edu­ca­tion­al failures/lack of aca­dem­ic suc­cess… I don’t know. Whatever it was, I felt unequipped to honor the work of the great play­wrights. Like I wasn’t enough.

Work­ing with Mike Alfreds, I learned that the play (and/or screen­play of course) is best seen as a roadmap, a blue­print or a music­al score.

Musi­cians prac­tice daily because they know that without this, they are unable to take what’s on the page and breathe life into it. They know that a page of music is just that, a page of music. It is noth­ing without the soul and craft of the musi­cian, the artist.

Equally, we would be well served to think the same way about the play. When you attend that audi­tion, have con­fid­ence. Know that the miss­ing ingredi­ent is you. You bring the life.

Without you, it is just a col­lec­tion of words with (some, but…) little power to move or change anybody.

You carry the key to the piece and inside you is every single pos­sib­il­ity that the play requires. You are a human being with the full range and gamut of emo­tion­al expres­sion. You CAN play Hamlet, you CAN play Juliet, Queen Mar­garet, Hedda Gabler, Willy Loman, whoever!

There is noth­ing they do that is not avail­able to you if you give your­self per­mis­sion to access it in the safety of the scene.

How do we begin to achieve this?

Well, first, we need to know the play. Do your 4 lists.

Read the play four times and each time, create a list with quotes from the play under 4 headings:



  • What my char­ac­ter says about themself.
  • What my char­ac­ter says about other people.
  • What other people say about my character.
  • Facts about my character.


Ensure that none of these are made up but taken dir­ectly from the text.

When these lists are com­plete, you will have a much deeper under­stand­ing of the story you are telling as well as your place in it. You will also have every bit of inform­a­tion that per­tains to your char­ac­ter, imme­di­ately access­ible, quote by direct quote.

Next, estab­lish your object­ives. What does your char­ac­ter want in the story, the scene, the unit?

Know­ing and hold­ing onto an object­ive is the only thing that will hook you into the scene and keep you fight­ing for what you want. The fight is what brings the life.

A solid under­stand­ing of the play and a desire in your heart injects life. It brings the 93%. It brings you.

To you, the artist.