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Adventures In Acting - Intensity!

Updated: Jan 25

This month's collection of acting-related thoughts and feelings:


Actor screams into camera lens
Recent Headshot by JJ Keith


“I've experienced a great deal of pain and suffering in my life ......

most of which has never happened.”

Mark Twain - Writer of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"


Intensity - In Acting:

Good or great acting has an element of intensity to it right?

It is very rarely calm and casual at least.

As i mentioned in July's Adventure:

The 2 things i hear the most after a great exercise, class or scene are

“that was intense” and “I didn’t expect that”

These two things are very indicative of what makes great acting for me.

A level of intensity (call it heightened focus or awareness maybe) seems necessary for a dramatic moment.

The “Drama” of an interaction or even the internal conflict of the character must be backed up by an intentional creation of meaning, everything must mean something to the people/person involved or there is mundanity .

(Definition of mundanity: of the quality of being commonplace and ordinary.)

The intensity can feel very personal sometimes, like it's not "acting", but as unusual as it feels that intensity might be worth getting into more often to make it more manageable.

"If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary."

- Jim Rohn

The spontaneity of the thing or the unexpectedness of the thing or the thing not going to plan is perhaps harder to practise.

This letting go of how you think it should go though, is definitely something that the actor can become more comfortable and familiar with, it is at the very least an aspect of the work that the actor can soften to over time.

Initially of course the idea of our acting not going to plan is terrifying and can feel awful whilst it’s happening and for a while after also.

It actually seems it is not our job to be comfortable on stage or screen, it seems there is benefit to experiencing some safe levels of discomfort where possible.

"Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort." - Mandy Hale

The benefit of allowing this element of unknown into our craft is that, if the moments are unplanned (within reason) then the work is spontaneous and fresh for the participants and the observers.

Also the camera hates rehearsal and the theatre audience love a line fluff or a bit of improvisation in the moment, so it going “right” or “to plan” actually seems to rob everyone of some lovely, genuine unplanned behaviour.

Keep calm (but intense) and carry on adventurers!


Want to train in person?

Classes are back up and running from Nov 2nd.

We are now using the Run At It Shouting studios in Hackney Wick:


Studio D30,

403 Wick Lane,



E3 2NQ

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What's my motivation?

This month's scene is from Shane Meadows' excellent "Dead Mans Shoes" chosen by Mark AC Brown, multiple award winning Screenwriter, Director and genius behind the incredible "Dead on the Vine" starring the "Best Actor" Tom Sawyer.

Check out Mark's website here

He says about the film:

It’s a masterclass of power and restraint from Paddy and Shane Meadows.

Cutting out all the usual back and forth cliches that populate 90% of action films Paddy and Shane control this scene while barely moving or speaking.

They issue a warning, a promise to the characters and the audience.

This is something different.

Richard is something different.

Paddy is something different.

In a film full of intensity and horror this scene stands at the top (although the ‘You ya cunt!’ Moment could challenge that).

Also a very disturbing account of a murder.

Click on the video link below and then check my short interpretation underneath:

(Please be advised this scene contains adult language)

So much going on under the surface with this seemingly simple scene!.

The text is good but the Intensity of the contact between these actors is what transforms this into a hypnotising, memorable performance.

For this scene I will be focusing mainly on Paddy the baddie (but goodie really) here.

Gary Stretch is brilliant and moves through the gears beautifully but Paddy is very much in the driving seat I believe.

For the sake of shits and giggles Paddy Considine is here-forth referred to as "P-Dawg"and Gary Stretch is most definitely "G-Man".

P-Dawg is chilly and he bounces like a man possessed, killing 2 birds with one stone, keeping warm and mentally preparing for the conflict that's imminent.

As the little old lady car pulls up we sense there is trouble brewing, P-Dawg tells his brother to wait on the corner and G-man gets out and heads straight for P-Dawg.

It's so important to know how you feel about who you are talking to in your acting, we do it automatically in life but often we forget to remember if we like or dislike the other character maybe even love or hate that character.

So G-Man initially goes for the friendly approach, attempting to throw in a curve ball to this interaction.

That quickly changes when P-Dawg refuses to shake hands them quickly admits to the wrongdoing with zero remorse.

G-Man goes all tough guy but P-Dawg don't budge, he remains unmoved and unimpressed with this line of questioning he even introduces a but of silliness to add insult to injury.

Here P-Dawg really lets all that bubbling rage rise up but not in the way you would expect, he gets very sincere and quiet and talks like a friend giving great advise, so clever to not scream and shout these lines.

It is here where he takes the full big dawg status, when he tells him how close he was to slicing G-Mans throat while he slept , we realise who really means business in this Mexican stand off.

G-Man knows he's not got what it takes in this encounter, even with his mates in the car, he backs away and reconsiders his life choices.


Just to note:

See how much life P-Dawg put into this short scene without ever moving off the spot in fact only taking one hand out from behind his back once to highlight hoe easily he could crush G-Man and his "goons"

All below the neck acting, and above the neck expression, beautiful screen performance!

Have a short scene you want to see simply analysed?

Click below to send link to scene:


Any acting related news or questions email me:

Thanks for your attention - stay playful people.



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