Revisiting Michael Shurtleff’s 12 Guideposts

by | Voice Acting

12 Guideposts Based on

Michael Shurtleff’s “Audition”

Here’s a cool way to approach your copy. Think of ways these apply these timeless acting guideposts to your next voiceover audition.

Guidepost 1: Relationship
Find the love in the scene; for example the
presence of love, absence of love, betrayal of love etc. Who is the
other person in the scene in relation to me? Mother, daughter, son,
lover, husband, etc. What’s your history with this person? Ask the
question: “If you loved me you would…” What do I love about this
person? What do I hate about this person? The problem in the
relationship is always with other person. The “I’m Okay, You’re Screwed
Up” Approach. Important to Remember: “This is a play about me in love
relationship. What is the problem with my partner and what can I do/
give to my partner to solve my problem in order to get my dream today?”


Guidepost 2: Conflict
What is my dream and can I do to my partner
so that this person can make my dream come true today ? Your Fighting
For is done in a variety of ways, which are called Actions. An Action is
described as an undeniable communication that affects or changes your
partner to get what you want. The best actions are physical, because
they are undeniable. Some examples of actions: to berate, to infuriate,
to surprise, to tease etc, etc. Name the action, then play the action.


Guidepost 3: The Moment Before
Your Dream, plus your Fighting For focused
into a first action seeking conflict. A strong beginning. Physicalizing
the first action is recommended. Do it whenever you can. Remember, you
are also carrying into the scene the personalized history you have made
up for yourself, which are facts or inferences you’ve made from the


Guidepost 4: Humor
It’s a way of coping with the absurdities
or sorrows of living. It connects you with your partner, for example, to
tease, to put at ease, to share a laugh with, to deflect pain. An
appreciation about the irony of life.


Guidepost 5: Opposites
In life a fundamental truth about ourselves
is that at some level we want something and at another level we don’t
want it. Whatever is true in the scene, the opposite is also true. An
opposite is an action that interferes with you getting what you are
fighting for. The 3 most obvious opposites–1. Action -Screw you , I
hate you. 2. Action-You’re right, I’m wrong. 3. Non-Action-I give up.
You give up your dream for the moment.


Guidepost 6: Discoveries
What’s new? Discovery is the moment to
moment action. What is your partner saying or not saying. Be attentive,
alert, sensitive, aware of what’s happening in the scene. Listen and be
affected.Talk and effect change. You must make discoveries or you’ll
miss the events. If you miss the events, nothing will happen. You must
make discoveries or your scene will die. Action comes right on the tail
of discovery; something which you may have suspected is suddenly


Guidepost 7:Communication & Competition
Give and Take. Give and Receive. What are
you sending and what is your partner receiving. Vice versa. You must
send and receive both Emotionally and Physically. If you are alert and
aware you will discover wins and losses in you communication and
competition. Celebrate you wins and mourn you losses. Keep score. Count
the wins and losses. Love to compete.


Guidepost 8: Importance
Raise the stakes. This is not everyday
life, but a day of crisis. Today is the day I fight, where formerly I
fled. A day when everything changes. It’s has to be important or the
scene falls flat. Add “I” – if you don’t nobody will listen to you. You
must personalize.


Guidepost 9: Find the Events
Events equal changes, especially in the
relationship. You have to create the events. Be alert to what is
happening. Discover it in your partner. See if your partner is aware of
what’s happening between you. Otherwise, nothing will happen–the scene
will be dead. Events move the story forward.


Guidepost 10: Place
Where are you? What’s around you? Are you
indoors; outdoors, on your own turf, your partner’s; or neutral. What’s
your emotional connection to this place? There may be a possibility of
third area focus. For example, deal with the trees or flowers in the


Guidepost 11: Game Playing & Role Playing
It ‘s not insincere-it’s very true to life
and real. Game Playing and Role Playing is a way dealing with reality,
not escaping it. For example, a teacher’s role with students in college
classroom setting is different than later if they meet later at a
cocktail party.


Guidepost 12: Mystery & Secret
Wonder about your partner and your
situation. Have a secret – keep it a secret, but let it add drive and
intensity to your scene.

Guidepost 13: Mischieviousness
Adds humor. Lightens it up. Involves you with your partner.


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