10 Hints for Focused Concentration

A speech is given before most stage performances and live events – turn off your cell phones and other devices. Sometimes the request is greeted with laughter, but it holds a very serious message: Don’t ruin the concentration of the actors or the enjoyment of your fellow audience members. During a stage performance, actors must also learn to ignore coughing, candy wrapper noise, and people talking in the audience.

Auditions and callbacks likewise present actors with potential distractions. The actors are nervous anyway because they don’t have the job yet, and they are sitting in a waiting room with lots of other people who want the same job. So maintaining a level of focus during those precious five minutes in front of the casting director can be difficult, especially when faced with receptionists, phones, and high levels of stress.

Then there is a whole other set of interruptions that could occur while filming a TV show in a studio or a feature film on location. Just imagine trying to act while surrounded by lots of moving camera equipment, stressed-out writers and directors, bustling crew members, curious onlookers and paparrazi, and you’ll get the picture.

Total concentration is needed for performers to maintain the reality of a scene no matter what may be happening around them. This is what is called the fourth wall – the imaginary boundary between actors and audience. You can’t drop your character and stop acting just because you hear a loud sound or noise. Building the fourth wall can be challenging, but when it’s done properly, it makes the theatre, TV, and film experience both believable and magical.

Here are a few suggestions to keep yourself focused:
— Practice lines and monologues with the TV or radio on
— Read a book or maintain a conversation in a busy location
— Don’t get sidetracked with worrying about who’s in the audience or audition room
— Once you get the part, research your character and develop a back story
— Know the time and place he or she lived in and learn to think as that person so you can stay in character even if disruptions occur
— Work on being relaxed and in the moment
— Videotape rehearsals, then watch it back and look for moments when you were distracted
— Do vocal and physical warm-ups before the audition or show
— Focus only on your scene partners during the performance
— Memorize all of the lines in the script … not just yours!