How to Connect with Your Scene Partner: 4 tips
As actors, being emotionally present and connected to our scene partners is a top priority. At 3-2-1- Acting School in Los Angeles, we always encourage the students in our acting classes for kids, teens and young adults to connect with one another, to form bonds, and to collaborate on scene work both in and outside of class. Knowing how to connect with your scene partner will allow both you and your partner to safely dive into the most authentic of performances.
However, when you are out in the auditioning and working world, your scene partner is likely going to be someone who you are meeting for the very first time. Whether it be a cold read, a callback, a workshop or an improvised commercial audition, it’s rare that you will have much time to work with a scene partner before an audition.
Working with a total stranger can feel a lot of pressure. It may even make you feel nervous. So here are a few ways to go from concerned to connected!
Say hi. Wow, it sounds so obvious, but I can’t tell you how many auditions I have been to where a fellow actor is so focused on knowing their lines that they don’t even acknowledge their scene partner until they are speaking their lines in front of casting. How often have you performed in a play or film with someone you’ve never spoken to before? I bet the answer is never. So break the ice. Be the person who walks up with a warm smile and says hello! It is almost always appreciated.
Ask. If the scene calls for an intimate moment like kissing or even just holding hands, (any action that enters your partner’s personal space), ask if he or she is comfortable with it. You don’t have to make it more serious than it is, but by asking permission you continue to build that important trust. By showing that you are respectful of your partner’s personal space, you are letting them know that they can trust you with it and more.
Share. Treat your new scene partner as if you are meeting them at a friend’s party. It’s always best to feel comfortable with someone as a person before taking on another character. Learn something about them. Find something in common. Whether it be a neighborhood or a favorite band, you’re likely to find something in common. We often don’t trust strangers, but we love our friends. If you know something about each other, you are no longer strangers, you are on your way to friendship. We trust our friends, and trust is so very important to good scene work. Also, why not make a newf friend? How fun is that?
Listen. Listening is one of the most important things you can do . You’ve done a lot of preparation, now let it go and listen. When you read through the scene, don’t have a set plan. You already have chosen the direction you are going, but listen to your partner and react accordingly. The magic of a scene doesn’t come from the hours of preparation; the magic comes from that spark that occurs when two people connect. This is true for whether you have a really prepared partner or a less than prepared partner. Listen and react to whatever is offered. The work you have done will allow you to make strong choices. Even a weaker partner will breathe new life into your choices.
Make Lasting Connections
We are very lucky to be in a business that allows us to meet so many people and offers the opportunity to build great relationships. All we have to do to flourish is be open, have fun, and say hi!