The Power of Staging
A Master Class and Hands-on workshop
Staging is a directing tool that is often misunderstood and misused.
Staging affects two important aspects of storytelling in cinema, television and on the stage. It impacts the emotional system of the actors and the emotional experiences of the audience.
Within the actors.
Most directors don’t appreciate or understand how staging stimulates emotions within the actors. These stimulated emotions will be either appropriate or inappropriate for the character at that particular moment. Stimulating the appropriate or desired emotions in the actor/character through staging is one of the director’s most powerful and efficient tools. And it is the director’s job to design, communicate and oversee the staging of every scene, every moment.
There are two possible scenarios. One: An actor experiences the desired emotion as a result of the staging, freeing the actor from the obligation to ‘act’ and allowing the character to respond authentically. Two: An actor experiences undesired or inappropriate emotions (for the character) as a result of the staging and the actor unconsciously exerts extra effort to override these emotions and replace them with the desired emotions, in other words, the actor starts ‘acting’. In the first scenario, authentic characters will be generated exhibiting authentic behavior. In the second scenario manufactured characters will be generated exhibiting inauthentic behavior, i.e. acting.
Within the Audience.
Staging is a subtle yet powerful way to communicate the emotions of all the characters and of the scene itself to the audience. Staging, can and always will, stimulate the imagination and power of projection in each audience member. When we witness a scene we respond to the staging as much, if not more, than we do to the dialogue or actions or behavior. We trust the staging more because we feel that it reflects more honestly the hidden intentions, feelings and desires of the character, i.e. the subtext. As we watch any scene we project our selves into each character and attribute to that character the emotions we would be feeling if we were in that character’s situation.
A well-staged scene will stimulate and nurture a subtextual flow of emotions within every audience member. And of course this flow of emotions will be slightly different for each audience member because it is further defined by their own emotional history. Through the staging you can effectively touch each and every audience member personally and intimately.
An inappropriately staged scene will hamper or confuse the viewer’s attempt to project into the characters resulting in misinformation, misunderstanding and a less than satisfying theatrical experience.
In the Power of Staging Workshop Mark Travis will analyze and explain how staging affects both performance and perception. Using scripted material and professional actors Mr. Travis will demonstrate how the subtlest of changes in the staging of a scene, or a moment, will profound alter character, performance, and the audience’s experience. Participating directors in the workshop will have an opportunity to experiment with the staging of selected scenes so that they can experience the power of staging through their own personal efforts.This workshop will also explore two-, three- , and four-character scenes. And finally, the workshop will explore staging for the camera.
Topics that are covered in The Power of Staging Workshop:
- The three relationships in Staging: Character to Character, Character to Environment and Character to Self
- Revealing the subtext in the scene through Staging
- How Staging can stimulate the emotional life of the characters
- How Staging can generate the desired emotions in the audience
- Staging one character in order to affect or alter the emotional life of another character
- How Staging can create/reveal the power struggles between characters
- Hi Speed Directing – directing a scene by Staging alone.