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Acting Beats

Acting Beats


Air Date: October 20, 2022


Many actors like to use beats in their work. Beats are the mini pauses, breaths, or silent holds which are used for a variety of reasons. Even directors like the use of the beat when working with actors to draw attention to any given moment. There are, however, issues surrounding the beat that can negatively influence the actors’ choices. Today, we’ll look at beats…not the vegetable but the healthy acting tool actors like to consume…see what I did just there? This is another episode of Casting Actors Cast to devour! OK, I’ll stop now!


Beats: Definition-Moments, breaths, pauses which are experienced by the character from an actor


Kinds of beats:

· Physical-Holding for feedback (reaction/comic timing/ business) forward movement into another sensibility

· Emotional-Allowing the moment to process or shift into another gear (stress/fear/joy/) For dramatic impact

· Mental-a manifestation of thinking into another thought (thoughtful response/counter argument/changing the subject)

Why beats work:

· Heightens dramatic tension

· Emphasizes the comic/dramatic/character driven moments

· Allows new discoveries for the characters or for audience impact (end of scene)

Why some beats are unsuccessful:

· Mechanical and not truthful (too long or manufactured)

· Disconnected from the moment

· Neutral rather than driving the moment (Nothing happening)

How to use beats in your work:

· Think of beats a gear change

· Know why your character needs the moment(s)

· Allow for organic timing to set the tone/mood/purpose

· Explore the options and use sparingly

Of all the tools I like to see in the actor’s “toolkit” using effective timing in the form of beats is one of the most effective. Used poorly, it is often perceived as a mechanical choice with little or no connection to the moment. Used well, the actor can explore the inner conversation of any given moment… It’s always a good idea to enjoy your beets. They’re good for you

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