POV: Jeff Salazar on Acting
The Table Read
One important aspect of creative development is the Table Read. This form of exploration is used throughout many different mediums and has been a great source of creative development for characters and writers alike. Seeing it as a professional use of time is one of the best ways to discover where your character needs to go within the script.
That being said, it is always best to come prepared for the table read, and view this as a learning experience. The answers do need to be known prior, but afterwards you can find yourself closer to the destination. So how do we prepare for a collaborative event?
Read The Material
This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes these things need to be said. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been surrounded by actors who hadn’t read the script prior to the table-read. The common excuse is that they thought they’d read it at the table with everyone, making discoveries in the moment. Acting is an interpretive art, and should be taken as such. If the script is provided, read it ASAP. The director hired you (hopefully) for your creative input, and wants to hear your interpretation of the writing and where you think the character is going, not the other way around. A great film is made in communion with others. If you need a director to tell you every action and reaction, then that is not acting….that is imitating. Interpret your character and make decisions prior to the table-read, bring those decisions to the table and dissect them, make refinements, and move forward!
This is a term commonly used in the business world for someone who thinks too much, needing every answer prior to moving forward for fear of failing. Don’t be afraid to fail, for failing is the First Action In Learning.
Something one of our teachers here said recently was “The question is more important than the answer”. This means so much more than it sounds, and puts a different spin on character exploration.
It is easy to give an answer to a question and just “be done with it”, however, asking the question and not knowing the answer can pay off in dividends for character development. It shows that the actor is truly discovering new things about the character they’re trying to develop. Knowing all of the answers prior to the question being asking is a dangerous slope of negative progression. Allows yourself to be inquisitive and shapeable.
Ideas Are Good!
Bring them! Bring them all! A table read, as mentioned before in this article, is a collaborative session of like-minded individuals looking to tell a story. If you feel an element is missing, or can be added for the benefit of the story, don’t be afraid to pitch it! On the flip side of that coin, don’t be afraid of rejection either.
There are as many different kinds of directors as there are people in this world. Everyone is different, and may or may not take your ideas well. However, that should never stop you from adding your creative thoughts to the table. If you feel your idea should be saved for a one-on-one conversation with the director, then make that choice, but don’t sit idly as a good idea walks by.
Sometimes suggestions come from confusion, thus bringing us back to asking the questions needed for character development. Ask those questions, and be curious. Take risks, and have fun with your new team, for that is what film is all about: telling stories as a team for the benefit of our society.
I know I have given you all a lot to think about. Be sure to leave any questions or comments below and keep us posted on your progress. Stay safe, live truthfully, and I will see you on the other side!