After finding a Duo partner and a script one would think all that remains would be rehearsal and competition. Wrong. There is a subtext that underlies a Duo partnership from conception to the season’s close. The chemistry and bond a partnership creates is a formula that can grow or die pending on how it is nurtured. This is not to say that you must become best pals with your Duo partner, nor will your performance be weak if the piece was rehearsed in a “strictly business” attitude. What is being said is that forming a strong, working relationship with your scene partner is crucial for success. Lose that and signs of your partnership’s ailing might begin to creep into your performance at worst. At “best” rehearsal will become tedious. Some suggestions to maintain a healthy Duo partnership include:
The key to any relationship of worth is open communication. Whether you have good news, a complaint, constructive criticism, or a suggestion you and your partner need to be aware that all must be expressed. Holding anything back might build into an argument of no return. Talk to your partner, in a polite, respectful manner and your Duo will grow together into a closeness that will be seen in your scene.
Part of what sanctions open communication is trust. Further, trust allows for scene partners to take risks with acting (thus elevating the odds of creativity and eliciting better, honest acting). Obtaining trust is not something that happens instantly. Take some time every practice to chit-chat and goof-off. Form some memories to bond. If you are not friends with your partner and have never spent time with them outside of Forensics, go one day to hang out. Sharing experiences and time seems like nothing, but these do matter. Get to know your Duo partner and watch the trust grow.
There will be times when a judge, coach, audience member, or even your partner will tell you constructive criticism you do not want to hear. There will be critiques where you will be the “weak” actor or the “strong” one. Either situation is rotten. Whatever criticism you hear, or from whatever position you receive it as (“weak” or “strong”), be supportive of your Duo partner. Never blame them for your piece’s ranking. Duo involves two people. Not one. Only through working together and improving as a team will your Duo blossom.
When you do have to deliver criticism do so in a respectful manner. It is no one’s fault why a gag or moving moment did not work. All you can do is offer a suggestion for improvement. Try a new approach, but be polite about it. Yelling or belittling your partner will accomplish nothing–aside from form a canyon between you two.
- Listen and Compromise.
You cannot do all the talking and decision making, nor should your partner! Again, Duo has two individuals working as one to create art. How can you work with another without listening to their ideas? Have a friendly discussion over the blocking/interpretation/etc. and after both of you have expressed your ideas and feelings be prepared to compromise.
Although this list sounds more like “How to Keep Your Relationship Strong” for couples, that is what a Duo partnership is at its essence: a relationship. Stay connected to your partner and audiences will see. You two may not become best friends, but that trust and openness you have procured in your working relationship will shine through in performance as chemistry.