How Your Character’s Menu Informs Your Performance Choices

Hey there!

In a recent video, I talked about the concept of every single human being making decisions on actions based on their individual personal menu, and how they always, without fail, go with the number one choice they have.

Even when that choice results in disaster.

Here’s how you can use that concept to help create and place your characters.

Hope this helps!


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Raw YouTube Captioning

hey there it’s David H Lawrence the 17th
and in a recent video I talked about
something that I learned just recently
just a few years ago about the human
condition and the fact that no matter
who you are and no matter how good you
are no matter how evil you are no matter
how knowledgeable you are no matter how
ignorant you are you have a personal
internal menu that you draw upon to make
choices about your actions and further
whatever’s on that menu whatever items
you can choose from on that menu you
always choose with you know you choose
what you consider to be the number-one
choice the best choice on that menu even
if you’re an evil creepy villain you
know and the number-one choice on the
menu is to destroy the universe well
that’s you know that’s your internal
and it got me thinking about the idea of
using that internal menu to help you
create and modify and place in space
your characters that you create both on
camera and in in in in the case that I
was thinking about on mic for voiceover
certainly there’s a part of acting that
talks about you know prior moments and
sense-memory and and you know emotional
recall and all kinds of actory phrases
that depending upon how you learned how
to act kind of point to the same thing
and that is kind of fitting into putting
your fingers in your character’s finger
slots and having your heart beat as your
character’s heart and seeing through
your character’s eyes and I think one of
the things that we often gloss over
because we don’t look at the script
closely enough or because we don’t think
it’s there it’s always there the words
always do the heavy lifting for you and
what I want to talk to you about in this
video is the idea of trying to determine
what your role your character in the
piece that you’re recording or that
you’re on camera is shooting what their
internal menu is and further what their
number-one choice is and this goes back
to what’s your motivation what are you
trying to achieve what are you trying to
stop the other character from getting or
help the other character get right if
you put it in terms of a menu if you put
it in terms of okay this person has this
kind of damage or has this kind of
background or has this kind of attitude
or has this kind of of framework this
kind of reference point what would be
their menu what would be the things that
they choose and sometimes it’s really
easy if you’re playing a villain if
you’re playing a bad guy well you know
that menu is very different from the
heroes menu it’s very different from the
victims menu and your number one choice
is always you know bringing danger and
heat and
destruction and and the most interesting
characters are the ones that are
conflicted about those things but even
with voiceover even the most mundane
commercial when you think about it in
the in the vast spectrum of characters
that you could create salesman number
two right
if salesman number two’s whole role in
the commercial is to say
yeah and it’s selling really well or now
we got that color for you whatever it is
something to help move the story along
what’s their menu and then what’s the
number one thing on their menu in that
case it would probably be you know their
menu is they want to help the customer
out they want to help the customer do
whatever the job is that they’re trying
to do in the commercial paint the house
or repair the deck or buy a car or you
know get some cleanser or whatever it is
right and their number one choice is to
be helpful
now you think yourself well that’s kind
of obvious but sometimes it isn’t
obvious sometimes when we tend to think
about I got to get the words right
I got to make sure I do this in 30
seconds am i approaching the microphone
properly am i addressing the mic
properly instead of the thing that you
should be focused on and that is what am
I trying to help get accomplished with
this what is my role in the greater
scheme of this particular script and you
always need to treat your script no
matter how sales it is no matter how
corporate it is no matter how political
it is no matter how dramatic or comedic
it is you have to treat that script with
respect and you have to dive in and
figure out what your character is all
about and I tend to think all the time
what are my characters choices what’s
the number one choice what’s the choice
that they would go to immediately not
what would I go to as a voice talent or
as an actor but what would they do what
what what’s their motive what’s their
deal right
and I think thinking about it in terms
of what’s their menu what are their
choices what’s the number-one choice
that will always help you identify their
motivation and always help you identify
what their part is in the universe of
that particular production so does this
help is there now something new that I
can give you I’m gonna do a whole video
coming up on what not to do when you sit
down with copy because I had to deal
with that just the other day but does it
give you something like a touchstone
like instead of this sort of amorphous
well what are their motivations how
about what’s their menu what are the
choices that they have what’s the number
one choice asking yourself that question
or those series of questions is that
helpful is that something that you might
try is that something that you might
that might lead you to a more natural
read a more natural and realistic read
that lets you you know really settle in
on what your characters trying to
accomplish I hope so let me know in the
comments below there’s comments space
below this video on vo to go go comm I’d
love to I’d love to have you leave me a
comment about this particular item cuz
it’s kind of you know performer II there
are people who watch these videos that
aren’t performers in like wow so let me
know let me know in the comment below
and and also if you’d like to join my
list I’d love to have you because I I
deliver things like this on a regular
basis I’m trying to help you make your
voiceover career super spectacular join
my list there’s a subscribe box
somewhere on the page just click on the
link and it’ll open up to a forum and
you can join my list and if you’d like
to see the latest episode that I’ve done
of these one-a-day videos just go ahead
and click that frame there and YouTube
will play it for you because that’s what
they do I’m David H Lawrence xvii
I appreciate you watching and I will
talk to you tomorrow.

5 Responses to How Your Character’s Menu Informs Your Performance Choices

  1. Suzi Fee July 27, 2019 at 5:12 am #

    Be honest and laugh at yourself.

  2. Bill Johnston July 27, 2019 at 6:42 am #

    Absolutely yes, David. Very helpful. Your Memo Metaphor (MM) is replete with meaning. I think using the MM can do no less than help the actor to more readily discover the appropriate path toward proper character creation. It’s a great shorthand expression of the much deeper concepts that have to do with appreciating what drives a character to do what he must do under the circumstances in which he finds itself.

    For me, there’s a sleeper concept in there. You addressed the idea of the character always taking the first choice on the menu. I’m thinking now of what happens when the situation he’s in prevents the character from exercising his first choice and as a result, he gets stuck with having to take his second or, perhaps, even his third choice.

    Thank you very much for the great insights you provide, not only in this video but in all the videos in this series. I am profoundly grateful to you for making them available. As the Brits would say, “Brilliant.”

    • Bill Johnston July 29, 2019 at 9:29 am #

      Sorry, David. Obviously, I meant to say, “MENU Metaphor.”

  3. Tom j Dolan July 27, 2019 at 8:11 am #

    David, Insightful both Professionally & Personally. Thanx for this….really has me thinkin’ forward & backward.

  4. Chris Buckner July 30, 2019 at 10:09 am #

    The idea of the “menu” is interesting. I’ll try and put it into practice. Thanks for the video David.

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