A lot of talk goes into the power of words.
A general rousing their army to action.
A teacher inspiring their students.
A parent soothing their child.
Words are powerful things. Think about quotes:
The pen is mightier than the sword.
Words are like weapons—they wound sometimes.
I’m sure you could find a million quotes about the power of words.
But I’m not sure enough goes into the power of silence. One comes to mind: don’t speak unless it improves upon the silence.
The quote is still about words and speaking partially, though.
But silence, within itself, is a powerful thing.
This is true for real life, but it’s also true for theatre and film pieces.
You might find the power of silence in acting: when does the actor take a pause? When in the stage play script did the playwright write “beat” or “a tense silence” and why?
Or, in your script, is there a character who doesn’t speak a single word—be it spoken word, sign language, or written communication.
It seems common to think that in order to make a great difference, you need to speak great words.
But sometimes, the even greater difference is made by characters who embraced the power of silence.
The power of stillness, of a breath, of a gesture.
Your silent character might be the most intelligent of all. After all: intelligence is knowing what to say.
Wisdom is differentiating between when you need to say it, and when you need to lower your mic for someone else.
Your silent character might be the greatest supporter. Silence is a form of support for strong personalities. Your silent characters pass the mic, and amplify the voices of others. Who do the silent characters amplify? Your villain, or your hero?
Your silent character might also be the strongest. Active silence, and actually listening is a strength. Silence says a lot no matter what, but active silence speaks volumes more than empty words ever could.
Silence is a profound thing—and while we study “finding your characters’ voices,” we might also teach about finding silence.
Profound silence can be just as powerful as profound words—even if it’s oft overlooked.