“Acting is reacting!” True, but that’s only half of it. You must also learn to recognize when your intention has landed. I call it “checking in”: did your partner really register what you just said? Checking in is a way to see if you’re actually getting that person to do what you need.
Once you’ve seen your intention land, the second half of acting is to respond with that same intention. This is why acting is not only reacting, it’s also making your scene partner’s reaction part of your fight to get him or her to do what you need.
Good, specific listening requires that you check in to see if your scene partner is affected by your intention.
How do you check in? How do you know that what you said landed or registered with your scene partner?
Watch for it in their body language in the instant before they reply. Did your partner just tense up? Roll their eyes? Slump? Swallow hard and look hurt? These are some possible human responses that might occur when someone first internalizes what you’ve just said. The body always reacts a split second before the words emerge. It requires that you really listen (not only with your ears but your eyes) to spot that pivotal moment in your partner. Watch for their body movements, facial expressions, and eye contact. That response is a golden moment because it’s the unfiltered truth.
Make sure you pay attention to your own reactions as well. You need to be aware of what is happening inside of you, outside of you, and around you in this moment. Did you receive a negative response? Indifference? Anticipation? Recognizing this will determine how you fight for your next intention.
Next Time: How checking in makes your partner the most important person in the scene.
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