MOST ACTORS refer to pointing as though it were a separate technique, when actually it is a combination of all the techniques. It is closely related to the problem of the size of a performance in that it involves the use of techniques in relation to a single line, to a short phrase which is part of a line, or even to a single word. Pointing is frequently confused with timing because it often uses a physical action in a nice time relationship with the word or phrase which is being pointed, but it differs from timing in some respects because it can sometimes be done with the vocal techniques alone and sometimes with only the physical techniques.
Pointing is the use of any technical device to bring special emphasis to a thought or an emotion which is expressed by some relatively brief phrase or action. It is, in a sense, the smallest possible unit of acting; but the sum of all the things which an actor chooses to emphasize, plus the skill with which he achieves that emphasis, adds up to the interpretation of the role. Pointing is to acting as the use of highlight and shadow is to painting; it gives the performance roundness and fullness. The actor's understanding and grasp of the character, and therefore his stature as an artist, will be revealed by the things which he selects to receive special emphasis, and his skill will be revealed by the facility with which he is able to point the passages he has selected.
When Hamlet, in Act III, Scene 3, has the opportunity to kill the King as he comes upon him while the King is praying, he does not seize the opportunity, lest the King should go to Heaven.
Now might I do it, pat, now he is praying;
And now I'll do't: and so he goes to Heaven;
And so am I revenged? That would be scann'd: