Dying ain’t dead

“…Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Dylan Thomas

 
All too often, test fights end with a “light switch” kill, meaning that the character gets stabbed and one breath later, they expire (many fight scenes in shows end this way, too, unless otherwise scripted). There’s often no reaction to the death blow other than the physical motions. These are this person’s last moments alive! Ask yourself what is happening to you in those moments. “Dying ain’t dead!”*
 
I once received this list as an actor’s guide to the stages of dying:

  1. denial and isolation
  2. anger
  3. bargaining
  4. depression
  5. acceptance

In a test fight situation, you may not have the time to establish sufficient momentum to earn a lengthy death scene (read: don’t go over-the-top with it!), however, you DO have time to have your character realize they’re dying, react to that and then expire. Leave your audience with a complete story.

For further inspiration, see what Dylan Thomas had to say about what should be in your head and heart in your last moments. Granted, Thomas is talking about a different situation, but I think we can still draw inspiration from his words.

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

BY DYLAN THOMAS

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

 

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

 

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” from The Poems of Dylan Thomas. Copyright 1939, 1946 by New Directions Publishing Corporation. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1957)

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175907

*We’ve heard “dying ain’t dead” out of several of our colleagues and mentors, but most often from Dwight McLemore and John Lennox.

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