Character Development For The Struggling Actor
This theatrical article will provide hints on how to fully develop a given character including a character sketch for struggling actors.
One thing that must always be done, when given a role in theater, is characterization. If you know nothing about your character, you can’t possibly expect hundreds of people to believe you are your character. Lines aren’t hard to memorize once you find this long lost character. As a matter of fact, if you do enough characterization, you can feel your character saying them and therefore don’t have to memorize. Some actors feel as though they can believably be a character without any research. This immediately throws them into the “bad actor” category.
Character games are a great way to practice acting as well as reacting like your character. This can be done through improvisational activities or other movement activities. Remember that characterization involves how they walk, talk, live, eat, drink, sleep, and even breathE. It’s also a
good idea to give character sketches to actors. Here is an example of a very useful character sketch:
The Character Sketch
1. Physical Silhouette
A. Character’s age, weight, & height
B, Type of speech
C. Way of walking
D. Mannerisms or idiosyncrasies
E. Nationality of section of the country
2. Character Biography (Imaginary Background)
A. Childhood, adolescence, middle age, old age
B. Educational background
E. Social life
F. Style of dress
G. Political sympathies
3. Psychological Silhouette
A. What is their environment like?
B. What is their self concept?
C. How do they behave under emotional stress?
D. What is their basic outlook on life?
4. Play Structure and Analysis
A. Are they sympathetic or unsympathetic?
B. What type of play is it?
C. Where does the crisis occur in the play?
D. Where is the character’s crisis?
E. What is your relationship to each of the other characters?
F. What changes take place in the character? How are they different at the end of the play?
- Justify and explain reasons for choices in all categories!
- Quote freely from the text to help support your arguments.
- Be sure to individualize your character- set them apart from the average and ordinary.
- WRITE YOUR CHARACTER SKETCH IN FIRST PERSON !
Unfortunately, the process of fully getting into character is a long and painful one. There are very convincing actors who have yet to completely enter their character. By carefully observing their onstage behavior you can sense this habit. It’s almost as though you can sense a voice of obedience asking, “Did I get that right?” This is not too critical of a problem for the convincing actors. This slight shadow of doubt can only be scoped out by the experienced actors and directors in the audience. Other actors consider characterization their weakness. This is quite a shame, for the essence of an incredible character can surly be the deciding factor in whether you have an outstanding or satisfactory performance. For some strange reason actors are reluctant to actual feel the pain, anger, and hardships of their character. They’d much rather “indicate” the alleged passions they feel. The director’s sole purpose is to knock some strength into their actors. Even if the director serves as a constant nuisance always asking, “What is your objective?” By bringing objective to the actors attention, you are causing them to, little by little, get into character.
As an actor you must learn to not fear the pains and passions of your character. The sole purpose of acting is to portray a certain character. Don’t do this person a terrible injustice by merely acting like them as opposed to being them.