Tuesday, 11 April 2017


As a writer I of course love words. As a writer for the stage and screen I also appreciate the value of the visual. A picture can take the place of a thousand words, a few hundred at any rate.

Such was the case when watching a scene from that fabulous British TV show "The Vicar of Dibley".
Dawn French sat on the sofa staring at a bottle of whisky doing her best NOT to take a swig from the bottle. As a vicar she was being tempted. The way she spent between 60 and 90 seconds turning her head from the bottle to the picture of Jesus and back again, using her eyes, her lips, and body to emphasise the battle was a great lesson in comedic skill. Such a simple act and yet she made the whole process as funny as anything I have watched on TV. Not a word was needed to explain the conflict of her decision making. Of course the visual 'punch line' was that she gave in and gurgled the whisky straight from the bottle. I laughed and sighed with admiration for her and of course for the director.

This action would have been indicated in the script by the writer of course but it shows how an actor can add so much to the concept. It helps if a writer has been or can imagine being in the position in which they place a character or in a scenario in which they have been involved. Yet the fact that silence can add to a script is an important lesson for both actors and writers to remember early on in their career. So, while the audience would see the actions performed in silence, those actions would have been described in words. Dawn French, I love you. Words, I love you too. 

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