Acting is a craft that requires a high level of preparation and attention to detail. An actor's job is not just to deliver lines, but to fully embody a character and bring their world to life. This requires a deep understanding of not only the character, but also the relationships, locations, and events that shape their story. The key to achieving this level of authenticity and believability is through specificity.
Specificity means going beyond surface-level details and really immersing yourself in the world of the character. This involves knowing more than just the basic facts about your scene partner, but truly understanding who they are to your character and your character’s relationship with them. It means not just pretending to see something you're supposed to react to, but using all of your senses to fully imagine what you're reacting to and then allowing your response versus showing it.
Additionally, specificity extends to the people, places, and things that are both referred to and interacted with during a scene. An actor must imagine in detail their relationship to everything in the script, and how it affects their character's emotional journey.
However, while it's important to bring a high level of specificity to your preparation, it's equally important to honor the script. The script is the foundation of the story, and every choice an actor makes should be in service of bringing the script to life because acting is a collaborative medium. This means that while an actor should explore their character and their world in great detail, they should also be mindful of the larger story being told and the role their character plays in it.
Once an actor has fully prepared with specificity, they can then let go and just be present during the scene. This allows them to be more believable while actually doing less. By having done this work in advance, an actor can then trust that their body and mind will instinctively know how to respond in the moment as the character. In conclusion, specificity is crucial for actors in order to fully embody their characters and bring their worlds to life. However, this specificity must always be in service of the script and the larger story being told. With this balance, actors can deliver truly authentic and powerful performances.