The Given Circumstances

One of the first things you need to do is understand the ‘fixed given circumstances’ of the scene…

Ok, so you now have a conversational flow, you know the hidden truths of the script and you know the character.

What next?

Well, let’s look at tackling a particular scene.

One of the first things you need to do is understand the ‘fixed given circumstances’ of the scene.

This means the things that will not change in the scene.

For example, perhaps a character is pregnant, it’s set in a hot climate or you are on a train. This is important to establish because often a writer will put characters into situations that help the action.

The great playwright Tennessee Williams used to set a lot of his plays in the deep south of the USA, where there is a lot of heat and the accents have a singsong drawl to them.

This really helped the action of his plays, which have a lot of sexual tension and conflict. People behave differently in heat.

The fixed given circumstances can be very easily acknowledged and forgotten. You need to work them into the scene; you need to live them as the character would.

I have some homework for you. Pick a play and a scene from that play and dissect what the fixed given circumstances are. Understand how they affect the action and the character.

Tomorrow, we will look at making the action personal to you.

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