Whether a play or a movie, every scene counts – but some are more demanding than others. The emotional climax of a piece is always one of the most important for an actor to excel in, but nailing a deeply emotional scene is easier said than done. 

At Casting Frontier, we’re proud to help actors everywhere boost their careers by finding great auditions online, but if you’re currently prepping for an emotional scene or audition, these tips can help you do it. 

How to Perfect an Emotional Scene

As with most things in the craft of acting, the most crucial element of performing an emotional scene is preparation. Your success in an emotional scene will ultimately come from the time you spend in rehearsal and character development. The time and effort you spend working to build the reality of the character and to define the stakes, flow, and rhythm of the scene is crucial. The first step is to do that preparation and to trust that the work you’ve done will allow you to own the scene. 

Examine the SceneEmotional scene of a depressed young male sitting on the floor of an underground subway leaning against the wall with his head in his hands.

The first step may seem obvious, but before even acting out the scene read through the whole script and discover the back story of the scene. Understanding what might be leading up to the scene can help you better create and shape how you portray your character’s emotions, gestures, and motivations. 

  • The Character: Study and analyze the character’s personal story. What do you know of their past, present, and future? Judging by this character’s experience what are they feeling and how does their story come into play for that scene. 

 

  • Analyze the Moment: Once you feel that you understand the character, focus on the moment, peel back all the layers to understand what this character might be feeling. It is helpful to picture what the character’s thoughts might be, what memories are coming up, and to consider their relationships with other characters in the scene.

Tips to Analyze a Character’s Internal Struggle 

A great way to really “put yourself in someone else’s shoes”, meaning your character, is by writing about what you think they might be feeling in that scene. Pretend you are them and write an entry in a diary. Write about what they would be thinking or feeling at that moment.

Too Much Preparation?An emotional scene of a frustrated and distressed young woman with smartphone by the damaged car after a car accident, making a phone call.

Corollary to that, the counterintuitive truth is that thinking too hard about how to prep for a scene can actually hurt you in the end. If the proper preparation is in place, often the best way to prepare for a scene is to avoid overthinking it before playing the scene, instead of working to keep yourself open and poised before beginning. In acting, every line should be a discovery, so you want to come into the scene fresh.

When you do enter the scene, it’s time to rely on your preparation, your imagination, and your honest reaction to the events of the scene and the actors you’re working with. Immerse yourself fully in the character and the story, make your experience of the scene as real as possible, and listen to your authentic reaction to the other actors in the scene. Notice how none of these tactics focus on calling up an emotion: instead, they create the conditions necessary for an authentic emotion to come forward. That’s the key. 

Find Acting Jobs Online

Reliably performing highly emotional scenes is one of the most difficult aspects of the acting profession, but as with all things, it’s possible through preparation and hard work. We hope these tips help you work through your next emotional scene in an acting role, and if you’re still on the hunt for your next role, we’re here to help. Our online portal makes it effortless to apply for hundreds of casting calls and acting auditions – sign up and find your next audition today!

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