Thursday, December 1, 2011

How to use Substitution & Endowment

Substitution is when actors replace objects or characters, with objects or people in their lives , in order to better identify with and complete scene objectives. However, substitution must be used with caution in order to stay true to the character, playwright and story. The danger with substituting is, if not used correctly, it can endanger the actor to substitute everything, act half-heartedly and solely from his or her own experiences. Substitution is intended as a temporary technique, not a lie, which is carried through a show. Eventually, you need to believe from the characters standpoint and consequences. (Substitution is just a way to get you there.) Substitution especially comes in handy when there is a relationship that your character does not fully believe in yet. For example, if you were playing a character in a particular scene whose mother had just died and you were struggling to connect the truth of the relationships, you may use substitution to replace the characters' mother with your own, in order to bring in true emotions that come from losing someone very close to you. By opening night, you should get to know your character’s mother well enough that the same mourning can come from your character’s true place. In order to correctly use substitution, selectively and sparingly, use it during the rehearsal process in order to temporarily retain the characters emotional reactions to instances you have not yet connected with. By performance time, that true love or hate must be sincere from the character’s heart, not your own.
Endowment uses the physical objects your character is acting with, and gives them the same characteristics they would have in real life, or in the scene. For example, an actor may have to “fire” a gun onstage. To the actor, the gun was checked prior to the show, and it is a known fact there are no real bullets in the gun, only blanks. However, endowment allows the actor to give that gun real attributes of having bullets and being able to kill. Endowment is what gives truth to the objects the actor uses so they become real to the characters and audience. An actor cannot feel the heat from a cup of coffee if the cup is filled with water. However, they can use endowment to act as if the water is coffee and perhaps drink it carefully, blow on it, and be cautious with it when walking. In order to use endowment correctly, you must react emotionally to the object being endowed, ex (an actor holds a fake gun to his head, but has endowed that it is real, they should be nervous, feel threatened,) and physically (the gun may need to be shown as heavy, if it is fake and weighs nothing.) Unlike substitution, the actor will have to carry endowment through every performance. 
Here is an example, which contains both substitution and endowment. Imagine you are playing a mother whose baby girl has died in her arms. If you have a daughter, you can temporarily use substitution to replace the characters daughter with your own to bring forth more true emotions. You can then endow the doll (fake daughter) you are holding in your arms by holding it similar to how you would hold a real baby, showing its weight, how it best likes to be held, stroked and so on.
Substitution and endowment are some effective techniques used to add emotion or life to a scene. 

Encourage yourself with every role to perform with true emotions. -Actors Nook Team

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