By Paul Elsam
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Extra info for Acting Characters: 16 Simple Steps From Rehearsal to Performance
Followers of a theory named Transactional Analysis define all our verbal status behaviour as falling into one of three types: adult, parent, or child. Whenever we speak, it’s said, we unconsciously select one of these roles to make our point. And we often choose a role which is contrary to our social status. Reality TV shows love this theme: the ‘bad’ mother who rules her children by throwing tantrums; celebrities who behave like spoilt teenagers after downing a few drinks. The primary school teacher who asks a small child to help him solve a maths problem is using child-to-parent behaviour: the teacher secretly knows the answer, but raises the child’s place on the seesaw, in order to give the child the confidence to have a go at the problem.
He doesn’t want to be thought of as lacking ambition, but right now he feels out of place and would much sooner slip off home. The woman he is speaking to is a television casting director. Successful in her work, she prides herself on being friendly and approachable, despite the power she exerts in her job. She is a skilled questioner, and has decided to find out more about this man. She is confident, in control, and happy to be doing what she is doing. The man, though, is suffering a conflict: his animal instincts are telling him to retreat, but his mind is telling him he must stay and be sociable with this woman.
ROSEMARY It’s true. TERRY And even if it is true, you have no business saying it in front of other people. ROSEMARY Oh, honestly, Terry, you’re so touchy. I can’t say a thing right these days can I? TERRY Very little. Now you come to mention it. The conversation takes a downward turn as, nursing her glass of orange juice, Rosemary launches an attack on a biscuit-munching Terry which pulls them both into child-to-child mode: ROSEMARY Niggle, niggle, niggle. You keep on at me the whole time. I’m frightened to open my mouth these days.