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modeling & talent ● breaking into showbiz By Adam Hill Say What You Mean to Say By first understanding what it is that your character’s dialogue means, you’ll better learn how to deliver your lines in a far more effective manner W hen I was an acting student, after several weeks of nothing but exercises, I was given my first line of dialogue: “I love springtime!” My first inclination as a beginning actor was to think, “How am I going to say this line? Should I emphasize one word more than the others? I love springtime! I love springtime! I love springtime!” Then I thought, maybe I should proclaim it for all the world to hear. Maybe I should whisper so only those clos- est will hear. Could it be that an emotion was needed? Should I be joyous? Should I be melancholy? Should I be commanding? Should I be shy? My teacher was one of the great actresses of the theatre. I imagined she’d want perfection—the “right” way to say those three words; those simple words which had somehow become very formidable. What was I to do? In my youth and naiveté, my thoughts first went to these clichés. Fortunately, I turned to the notes I had dutifully taken in class during those weeks before this assignment. Instead of thinking how I would say the line, I began to think of who this person was who was saying the line. I re- membered that wonderful O. Henry story, “The Last Leaf.” A very ill character, Johnsy, believes she will die when the last leaf falls from the tree outside her bedroom window. It is winter and it doesn’t appear to those who love her that she will survive until spring. If only spring were here, John- sy would live. If you don’t know the story, a neighbor paints a leaf on the adjoining building so it appears from the bed- 22 PAGEANTRY TALKING THE TALK: Bryan Singer (R) tweeted a picture of himself and Peter Dinklage (L), the Game of Thrones actor extraordinaire, reading the script for X-Men: Days of Future Past. “I've been reading the script,” Peter revealed, “and it's wonderful. My character likes to talk, so he's very Shakespearean. He likes a platform and an audi- ence, so I have to learn a lot of lines.” room window as if the leaf is attached to the tree. Johnsy believes the illusion. As long as the leaf holds on to the tree, so will she hold on to life. Springtime eventually arrives and she survives. What if I was one of Johnsy friends? The first signs of spring would be very important to me. That would certain- ly explain why I say I love springtime, rather than, I like springtime. I then asked myself what exactly about spring- time, other than what springtime means to my friend, do I love? My imagination was stimulated. I created a history for my character. I come from a poor family. I am the middle child of six siblings, and we never had enough money for proper clothes. I remember being extremely cold, especially my feet, which always seemed to be wet. My family was loving, especially my mother. She would always tell me, as she put fresh cardboard into my shoes, that when spring came I would appreciate it so much more than those children that had sturdy new shoes and warm winter coats. And she was right. I have never forgotten to appreciate spring and every year I give myself one day free from any work to celebrate this very special time of the year. I decided my character, who I named John See in tribute to O. Henry’s Johnsy would be taking a walk in the park on SHOWBIZ Continued on page 76