There is a special key for handling Imagination in a meaningful way used by actors to channel random images and ideas. It is called justification. Justification is the ‘why’ of everything that happens on stage. Nothing is incidental. Everything happens for a reason and every detail has a purpose.
There is an old expression saying: If there is a gun on stage, it must fire. Same applies to the character. The reason a character speaks or moves in one way or another, is justified according to the story created by the author and by the director’s interpretation of it on stage.
There are many right answers to the question “how?” you can act or behave creating a character, but what gives the actual clarity is questioning “why?”- why your character acts one way or another, why they say those particular words written, etc. “Why” is the core of solving the puzzle of making decisions and taking actions on stage. It also defines the “how”- how the character speaks, moves, and acts.
For instance, Marlon Brando’s remarkable talent could be spotted already in the beginning of his acting career, exactly from this perspective. Stella Adler, one of his main theatre teachers, recalled that once in class, she instructed the students to act as if they were chickens, and added the circumstance that a nuclear bomb was about to fall over them. While most of the actors in the class ran around and clucked in panic, Brando was sitting calmly and pretended to lay an egg.
When Adler asked him why he chose to react that way, he explained,
“I’m a chicken – what do I know about bombs?”
In acting, the source used is imaginary, but the responses are real. The actors need to understand the inner motivation of the characters and what drives them to a certain action.
Remember that taking actions means making choices. To make relevant choices we need to understand the logic behind them- the cause and the “after” effect.
That’s why actors are doing a deep observation by analysing human behaviour and then bring the logic out of real life into the imaginary world.