An Overview of Skills and Techniques
The Drama Medium
Performers need to be heard at all times while on stage, even when whispering. But it seems unnatural to speak loudly and clearly when standing right next to someone. To achieve this, performers should practise projecting their voices to the back of the room. Other voice skills include the portrayal of a range of different emotions.
Drama utilizes not only how we say words, but also the choices we make when choosing words. ‘What’ we say, is just as important as ‘how’ we say it.
Body Language, facial expression and gesture.
The different ways we hold our body, face and hands while on stage will send a whole host of different messages to an audience. Crouching down, reaching up or standing straight etc can send a specific message about that character directly to an audience. It is part of characterization. This must be kept at a constant throughout though.
Movement and Pace
Actors should not be static for too long while on stage and an injection of pace and movement can significantly enhance a performance – however, this takes confidence!
An analysis of the proximity between two characters can reveal many different things. The space between characters can help to send a powerful message to the audience i.e. intimacy, loathing, friendship or quite simply, likemindedness. Any changes to the space between characters will draw a powerful dramatic focus.
Placing characters on a higher or lower level will also send a strong message about a character's status or emotional level i.e. crouching in front of someone who is standing can show subservience, pliancy and so on. It is also a good way to emphasise authority. Characters on a higher level can also be use to help characters have an overview of event i.e. Oberon and Titania might do this in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The Explorative Strategies
Freeze frames / Tableaux
A freeze frame is used in Drama for a number of reasons, though primarily they are used to capture a significant moment and ensure that dramatic focus is placed upon that moment i.e. the moment two people fall in love, or an item is stolen or found and so on. It is good to start and finish a performance with a freeze frame.
Cross-cutting is when two events appear on a stage at the same time. One group freezes while the others perform and then they switch. Using two groups allows for events to be explained as one group can portray events in the past or in a different place
Thought tracking is when a character's internal thought are spoken by another actor. Sometimes we think certain things but are not allowed to say them out loud but thought tracking allows an audience to hear these thoughts while they remain secret to the other characters.
Marking the moment
This is a very powerful way of ensuring dramatic focus is placed on a significant event in a performance. If actors use speech and movement in the normal way but then suddenly freeze to highlight a moment or event, then the audience is forced to take notice.