Space Work

Leeann Dearing

Space work is a crucial part of improv, but with advancing technology, it has become integral to green screen and other special effects work.

The term “space work” merely refers to the technique of creating your environment with your imagination. In the world of improv, any environment, no matter how seemingly ridiculous, can become reality. Using your body and your eyes, you can invite the audience into your world. Are you in a kitchen? Open a refrigerator or a cabinet; use the sink; cut vegetables; or stir a pot of stew. Make your environment believable.

Your environment won’t be believable unless you take the time to really see your surroundings, to feel them, and to use them as you would if they were real. That requires you to truly feel the weight of the chopping knife and the resistance of the refrigerator door; to smell the aroma of the stew; to hear the water running from the sink faucet. And when you really do see your environment, the audience witnesses you see it and is more apt to take the journey with you. The audience will believe in your environment only as much as you believe in it.

Part of sustaining the illusion is remembering where everything is. If you place a refrigerator at far stage left, don’t reopen it near center stage. If you bring a horse into the living room, don’t forget that he is there or walk right through him!

Your eyes are instrumental to creating your space on film. All of the other rules and tips still apply, but the camera captures more. The audience needs to see you see your surroundings. Green screens and special effects can insert objects and people and allow you to manipulate them–or existing ones. You might be required to hold, throw, interact with or react to these added implements. Once again, your imagination is key. Whatever you are asked to or decide to envision, give it your all.

Acting is work. However, the more you train and the more you know, the easier the work becomes!