When you’re working on a character, try thinking of your choices as based on a funnel model. Picture it.

At the top of the funnel, the circumference is wide and the water pressure is low. In the early rehearsals, you try out lots of possibilities, keeping an open mind and working in a very ‘right brain’ mode, drawing on your imagination and instinct to explore the wide range of choices you have.

As you come down towards the spout of the funnel, the water pressure is a little higher. In rehearsal you start to narrow your choices, discarding the ideas that were not right for the character or the play, and refining the ones that might be. You’re now starting to apply more ‘left brain’ thinking to get order into your choices.

By the time the water comes out of the spout – your performance – the pressure is high and the sheer force of the water is strong because the circumference of the spout is much narrower than at the top. The performance has focused power, supported by all the choices you made at the start.

The opposite of this is the cylinder model. Here your choices are as narrow at the top as they are at the bottom. The water comes out with less focus. There’s not much exploration at the start and there’s not much difference at the end.

The point is to freely explore a wide range of choices in early rehearsals and then start to narrow your choices so you have a reliable form, or physical score, for the role. It sounds obvious, but how many actors really do that?

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