Scene study is a form of improvisational theatre in which two actors stand face to face and explore moments from a scripted scene by revealing their thoughts, feelings, reactions, wishes, desires, fantasies, fears–as well as what they are doing and how they are being affected by each other.
Scene study has been used for over 50 years by some of the most respected acting teachers out there like Lee Strasberg and Uta Hagen. Scene Study can be practiced individually or with a partner at home (it’s an incredibly useful tool for couples) and it’s also taught in classes all around the world. It’s not something that can be taught in an hour or in one session. It requires patience, devotion, and practice.
As an actor, scene study is a fantastic way to understand what you’re saying and why you’re saying it. It allows you to manipulate language in real-time and bring your scene partner along with you. It helps you find moments of dramatic tension, no matter how small those moments may be. In scene study, you have the opportunity to play as a character rather than as an actor. You can test your choices and your character’s reactions and see if they are truthful, effective, or not.
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In scene study, it’s all about what is happening between the characters. It’s about the scene and not about your lines, entrances, exits… it’s not about you or the other actor. It’s about the story and the truth of make-believe. Also, scene study is very technical. You have to be aware of what you’re doing and saying at all times. You can’t just ‘wing it.
Scene study can be done for any scene in any play and it’s excellent in rehearsals since in scene study you can really see what’s working in the scene and what needs to be changed. Above all the scene only works if there is a connection. It is the actor’s responsibility and job to bring an instant connection to any scene and scene partner and the audience.
There are many misconceptions about scene study. Some people think that scene study means you have to get up on stage and actually perform the entire scene from a play or screenplay. This is not completely true! In scene study, you can pick any moment from the scene and explore it. You can look at the scene through your character’s eyes.
A scene study doesn’t even have to be done for a scene you’re rehearsing; it may be better to practice scene study directly out of the script first, then use that scene as an internal reference if you should ever need it later in rehearsal. Taking scene study seriously means you will do scene work every day. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of time, but it needs to be consistent. You need to be in the scene, working with your scene partner and exploring the scene from every possible angle.
Scene study is a fantastic way to improve your acting skills. It helps you connect with your scene partner, find truth in your words, and understand the scene’s objectives. A scene study master class can help you become a great actor!
Scene study is an important tool for actors to develop their voices. In scene study, you have the opportunity to explore the scene as a character rather than as an actor which means you can reveal your thoughts and feelings without worrying about what you should do or say next or how well you are performing.
Also, scene study is a great way to learn and practice vocal techniques. When you know what your scene partner’s next line should be you can take time to secure your breath and prepare for it so that when the scene continues, you will have the necessary air support to deliver clear and precise lines.
Scene study also has plenty of benefits for an actor’s craft and career as it helps actors find moments of dramatic tension, no matter how small those moments may be. In scene study, it’s all about what’s happening between the two characters and not just about your lines which give you a chance to play truthfully rather than being stuck in rehearsing your lines.
If you struggle with any of the above, feel free to have a look at
A scene study master class can help you become a great actor!
When you are exploring different roles in scene work it is important to remember the practices of sharing your thoughts, feelings, and reactions to the other actors with your entire instrument. It is also helpful to learn all of the lines for your and even other character roles in order to make the role come alive. The main takeaways of these principles of scene study:
Jeremiah O’Brian is a faculty member at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. His exceptionally diverse background – from gritty nuts-and-bolts firefighting to film and theatre credits and accolades – is bolstered by his several graduate degrees.