One of the best directing notes I ever received was from Peter Bogdanovich, who said to me, ‘Think quickly.’.
I’ve repeated that to many actors over the years since.
It doesn’t mean speaking quickly. It means moving forward doing what you need to do in the scene and eliminating the actor re-sets.
You jump off the cliff instead of inching over the edge – carefully.
You may be acting this way: dialogue – actor’s thought; dialogue – actor’s thought; dialogue – actor’s thought. Constantly interrupting yourself.
It’s leaving behind all and any preparation you have made. If you try it – thinking quickly - you’ll be surprised how much guiding and checking you were doing as you played. Giving that up creates space and that space leaves you with nothing to do but act the situation.
Be careful with the word quickly - it doesn’t mean fast.
The time, speed, pace of your mind in the scene and that of the scene itself remains intact and is found in rehearsal and shooting. It is neither quick nor slow. It has its own integrity. The time in your mind and that of the scene is the time needed.
‘Pick up you cues!’ is something directors and teachers say. Watch you don’t give up your time in answer to their direction.
John Barton, in Playing Shakespeare, uses the same phrase - think quickly.