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Don’t pause randomly as we do not do so in natural speech. In natural speech we pause to think, to listen, to suss out if other people are listening and to make or change eye contact and so on. Not just because there is a comma or full stop lurking menacingly on the page. Remember that words are there to be spoken and not ignored, and punctuation there to guide and not ruthlessly govern. Using too many pauses or gaps often renders the text meaningless and is usually a sign that the actor wishes to take up time and focus for him or herself rather than facilitating the movement of the play. How often do you pause in real life? Not often hey? So don’t pepper your performances with them! 

© Donald Woodburn

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