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The unspoken thoughts and motivations of the characters in a play are its subtext. As Sonia Moore makes clear in her book The Stanislavski System,
A simple phrase such as ‘I have a headache’ may mean various things; the person who says it may be afraid that the headache is a symptom of a serious illness; he may want a pretext to go away; he may be hinting to guests who will not leave. The meaning, the thought, and the intention are all important—not simply the words.
A great deal of the work of directors and actors focuses on developing the web of unspoken meaning and intention suggested by the text. Gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, body language, actions and movements all contribute to the precise meaning of a line of text—in addition to the emphasis and implied meaning a line receives because of how it is spoken.
The list below presents a series of minimal scripts—brief dialogues for two characters consisting of bare text alone. Your job is to flesh out these lines of text, anchoring them in a specific situation where their meaning can be made clear.
Choose a short script and
After you perform your scene, ask for feedback from your audience detailing what they saw, felt and understood about the situation. Avoid telling them what you were trying to achieve. If the audience was unclear about your work, try it a second time, aiming to communicate more specific information on character, place, situation, conflict and resolution (if any).