Given context and the development of character and story, a great actor will usually suggest removing dialogue in key moments. They know they can do just as much, often more, using silence and connection with other performers.
While this clip (that has been doing the rounds on social media for some time) is not of actors, it rather wonderfully illustrates the power of context (back story) and situation (action) that can climax in a silent yet powerful moment.
The clip is of Marina Abramovic during a live art performance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
It the moment she was unexpectedly reunited with her lover from 30 years ago. There is much more to their story, but even that small ‘context’ is enough for us to ‘get it’ enough for it to deeply move us.
These powerful moments are what actors can bring to our writing, so long as we provide the powerful backstory, the authentic moment for it to happen and the space for it to breathe.
Anyone who knows me as a filmmaker will know that I speak at length about keeping your story as tight as possible. This is one of those rare occasions where letting it sit for a moment will pay dividends.
Onwards and upwards!