The Power of the "Pause"

The Power of the "Pause"

Monica Moore

  • OnStage New Zealand Columnist

That little bit of nothingness, silent, hesitant, defiant, fleeting at times sometimes long and sometimes very long. 

It brings life to the story.

I’ve been in many audiences watching professional productions lately and while they were polished there was something missing in the work of many of the performers; notably those who are best known for their television and screen work.

That gap between the words, the hesitation, the extra breath, the chasm of time that invites the audience into the story, the pregnant, pragmatic, productive and always purposefully powerful; ladies and gentlemen I give you the pause.

That silence between words is very powerful.

It creates chemistry, it emphasizes meaning and it allocates time for the audience to catch up with the drama of the moment.

When we are on stage our words join together and develop momentum before the hit the ears of the audience. 

This metaphysical phenomenon must be at the forefront of our minds when directing and acting or something very important is simply lost.

The words on the page are never far from the eye, however the words are quite some distance from the ears of the audience making pausing even more important.

So brush up on your commas and semi comma’s. Think about the message.

Ask yourselves where you’re going to stop or pause to give the audience time to process and catch up with what’s going on.

It’s vital.   It’s essential.

It’s the dot on the crotchet or quaver. It syncopates, emphasizes and creates relationships, chemistry, emotion and feeling between actor, word and other actors.

It draws the audience in. Just like the breath of life; there are no words just silence as breath ‘creates’ before the next sounds are heard.

Everyone is excited by anticipation. It’s raw, edgy, and sometimes sexy; always enhancing the moment.

 He who hesitates is lost but in theatre-speak he who doesn’t loses so much.

Theatre is life

Happy pausing.


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