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unconcious on stage?

Printed From: Community Theater Green Room
Category: Producing Theater
Forum Name: Acting
Forum Discription: Q&A about auditions, character development and other aspects of the craft
URL: http://www.communitytheater.org/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=2010
Printed Date: 5/18/24 at 9:56pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 8.05 - http://www.webwizforums.com


Topic: unconcious on stage?
Posted By: eveharrington
Subject: unconcious on stage?
Date Posted: 9/08/06 at 12:34am
I am in a play where I get strangled until I fall unconcious and am then revived, I am worried about it looking silly, particularly the reviving part. It is a very serious moment in the story and I want it to look as real as possible, any tips would be appreciated.

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"If nothing else, there's applause... like waves of love pouring over the footlights."



Replies:
Posted By: Topper
Date Posted: 9/08/06 at 1:14am

Whatever you do, PLEASE don't do the cliche "head shake" after you wake up.  You know what I'm talking about?  You've seen it in hundreds of movies, plays and TV shows:

A character, knocked unconscious, is revived and then violently shakes his head a couple times "to clear it."

This drives me NUTS!  Some so-called comedian did this once in some forgotten silent movie and ever since actors have been imitating it for years.  It's been used in every Three Stooges movie and every cowboy bar brawl and it's totally fake!  Warner Brothers cartoons even added its very own sound effect to highlight the absurdity of such an action.

If you have ever actually been knocked unconscious (and I have been once or twice thank you very much) believe me, the LAST thing you'll want to do is shake your head.  Nor will you wish to make any sudden, swift or violent motions at all.

In fact, unconsciousness usually is caused due to loss of blood flow or oxygen to the brain so when your character "wakes up" try any combination of these:

1) You will most likely have a raging headache. 

2) You will probably be dizzy and have difficulty focusing your eyes.

3) You will need help standing or sitting upright until you get your bearings.

4) You might even be nauseated. 

5) You will want to move slowly and take relaxing breaths.

 

Now you know how the phony "head shake" must've first come about.  Some director shouted "you're taking too long!  Shake it off and get back into the story!"  Plus, how many macho actors would want to be portrayed as nauseated and weak from a simple knockout?  Can you imagine Bruce Willis or Clint Eastwood saying "Gimme a moment, I need to rest."

Wow.  Sorry to vent.  But if I can prevent just ONE actor from incorporating the "shaking my head to clear it" routine then my time here on earth has been well spent.



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"None of us really grow up. All we ever do is learn how to behave in public." -- Keith Johnstone


Posted By: eveharrington
Date Posted: 9/08/06 at 1:33am
I promise I will not shake my head, I haven't been doing that in rehearsal but I can't deny the temptation to resort to it.

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"If nothing else, there's applause... like waves of love pouring over the footlights."


Posted By: castMe
Date Posted: 9/08/06 at 11:11pm
Rant or not, Topper, it was a pretty good, concise acting lesson.  Thanks.



    and sorry about your head     




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Investigate. Imagine. Choose.


Posted By: Topper
Date Posted: 9/09/06 at 12:01am

Thank you.  Sometimes I think a good conk on the noggin would do us all some good.

Now that we've dismissed the "After waking from unconsciousness and shaking my head to clear it" cliche we can move on to eliminate the "Two childhood pals meet and pretend to box with each other to show what a fun relationship they had" cliche.

This is crap that actors do, not real people.



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"None of us really grow up. All we ever do is learn how to behave in public." -- Keith Johnstone


Posted By: eveharrington
Date Posted: 9/09/06 at 1:52am
Originally posted by castMe

Rant or not, Topper, it was a pretty good, concise acting lesson. Thanks.



    and sorry about your head      



I thought it was a very helpful rant, thanks

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"If nothing else, there's applause... like waves of love pouring over the footlights."


Posted By: Joan54
Date Posted: 9/09/06 at 8:19am
Well....I enjoyed that too....such a specific rant.....

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"behind a thin wall of logic panic is waiting to stampede"


Posted By: Juror #3
Date Posted: 10/13/06 at 3:41pm
I tip my opera hat to you, Topper.  Excellent list.  Having been unconscious a time or two myself, I might add to the list that I try to get up though my arms and legs are not ready to cooperate, while insisting I'm alright.

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Juror #3


Posted By: falstaff29
Date Posted: 10/29/06 at 6:24pm
There's an invaluable British book called The Art of Coarse Acting, all about anything and everything that can go wrong during a show.  There's a set of pictures in it this topic reminds me of- it shows the "right" way to die onstage (lying as flat and comfortably as possible, half-hidden behind a couch), and the "wrong" way (dying with a leg in midair, eyes open, etc.).



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