The things we judge live performance by on a subconscious level.
You just walked out of the best performance of your life. Someone asks you what you liked about it. What do you answer? You will probably find that what you liked fits into one of these three categories. In Boris Goldovsky’s book “Bringing Opera to Life” the first chapter mentions these three criteria for creating engaging performances.
If you feel like your performance is missing something but you don’t know what this is the place to start. This will guide you to where you need to spend more time refining your skills. This will also help you become more efficient in isolating what works and doesn’t work about any performance you watch so you can help make it stronger.
1. Believability (Credibility)
- Do I believe that they are in this imaginary world the performers, musicians, and designers are creating? This is more an issue of the subconscious than the conscious mind. If your subconscious is convinced your conscious mind will be more ready to believe and invest in it. The key to believability or making something seem credible to our subconscious is about following normal behavior patterns and by following patterns found in nature.
- Can I understand it? Can I see it? Can I hear it? Is the audience picking up what the performers are putting down? This everything from diction to body language to lighting. If you are being ambitious you must be doing so in a way that is clear you are being ambiguous. If you aren’t being clear then it reads by default as a mistake.
- Human beings are novelty junkies by nature. In natural unstressed human behavior, we rarely do the same thing the same way twice. You only have so much time on stage – use each moment to communicate new information about the character or story for the audience.
Why +1 and not the BIG 4. Because The Big 3 are from the perspective of the audience. The audience doesn’t care if you can do it night after night. You as the performer must make sure you can.
If you as the performer do something amazing but know you can’t repeat it consistently night after night then you should find a different option.
Each of these guideposts has multiple layers. Keep digging into each one to find out what other ways you can be more believable, gain more clarity, or provide more variety.