Indicating is the trademark of bad acting. In life we don't indicate, we behave truthfully. We don’t need to illustrate things or exaggerate.
As an actor, doing more work than necessary is an insult to your audience. It says, “I don’t think you’re smart enough to follow this story so I am going to show you everything.” It is a sign that you do not trust that your acting is truthful and clear. There may exceptions to the rule but unless it is a specific style or character trait I suggest you avoid indicating as much as possible. Play truthfully. Be a diligent observer of human behavior – starting with your own.
Here a few definitions of the verb indicate:
1. to be a sign of; evidence; show
2. to point out or point to; direct attention to
3. to show, as by measuring or recording; make known
A perfect, and very extreme example of indicating would be if an actor closes his eyes while playing a blind person. In this case he would be “showing” the audience that he can’t see – overstated and false behavior. I would hope that no serious actor would ever do that. I am exaggerating to make a point.
In life, if it’s too cold or too hot we deal with it and “take action” to find comfort. We don’t need to show each other how hot or cold it is. If we're outside and it’s raining we certainly don’t look up into the sky to show each other that it’s raining. Again, we deal with it. Our focus might go down to protect our eyes. Our shoulders might tense to keep warm. We might squint or blink in order to see better in the rain.
Pointing at things or people is a trait of indicating. If I walk into my house and it’s a complete mess I don’t need to point at it and say, “Look at this place, it’s a mess.” It is a given and it doesn’t need to be pointed out. When I am talking to someone I do not need to constantly point to myself if I’m talking about myself. I do not need to constantly point to them to let them know I am talking about them. That is a given.
Here are some more examples of indicating:
I completely understand why actors tend to indicate from time to time. I have done it in my own work I’m sure. We want to make sure the audience is getting every single detail of the story. We don’t want them to miss a thing. Trust that they will fill in the blanks when needed. They do not need to be spoon-fed. They want to observe truthful behavior on stage and on screen. Work with subtlety. Keep your work honest and truthful and always be aware of indicating and doing too much. With many things in this work, and in life, less is more. Trust that simple phrase. It will do wonders for your work as an actor.
Thanks for reading. Good luck and keep going. I wish you nothing but success in everything you pursue.
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