Let’s look at guidepost number two from Audition by Michael Shurtleff.
If we recall, guidepost number one is relationship and we’re supposed to look for the love.
Guidepost number two is what are you fighting for? Shurtleff thinks it is important to establish a positive goal for a character to be fighting for in every scene. He explains why he chose the term fighting instead of searching or hoping or wanting.
“An actor is looking for conflict. Conflict is what creates drama. Plays are not written about our everyday lives or the moments of peace and placidity but about the extraordinary, the unusual, the climaxes. I am always surprised at how actors try to iron out the conflict that may lurk below the surface of a scene, flattening it instead of heightening it. Perhaps we are taught so thoroughly in our everyday lives to avoid trouble that actors don’t realize they must go looking for it. The more conflict they find, the more interesting the performance of the play.”
Here we are, at an opera performance. Are we looking for the conflict that is lurking below the veneer? Are we aware of what the characters are fighting for? We might know ahead of time that the character is going to lose such as Violetta in La Traviata but that does that mean we take all the fight out of her?
In fact, the scene between Violetta and Germont in Act ii of La Traviata might be a good one for us to delve into next post.