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Readers Respond: Ways for Actors to Develop Their Characters

Responses: 6

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A few years ago, when I was performing in a Shakespeare play for the very first time, I spent the first two weeks of rehearsal just focusing on line memorization. After I knew all of the lines by heart, I then began experimenting with different voices and mannerisms, until I was happy with my character.

More recently, I was working with a director in a musical comedy. Instead of learning my lines first, the director wanted to spend a few sessions just talking about my character's background and what motivates my character. Line memorization came later.

What about you? How do you create your characters?

Make it real!

One thing I do alot when acting is I try to make the situation as real to myself as possible. Let's say that the character is supposed to be your brother and you are meant to hate him with everything you have. Really try to use the information you have to make a reason to really hate him, and act as you would while being the character. Spend time creating a background for your character if it is not already supplied or research certain qualities that your character may obtain, and how to portray those qualities to your audience. Afterall, if you believe that you really are the character and are in the situations that s/he goes through, then the audience will be believe it as well. Also, be as confident in yourself as possible while on stage. Nobody wants to see somebody who is too shy to even say a line, they want to see somebody who is having fun up there and is taking risks. So overall, try your best to make the scene a reality, and work from there.
—Guest Little Miss Actress

Developing Character

When you develop a character,the main thing you must discover is your MOTIVATION in the scene. You must also FOLLOW THROUGH the WHOLE time during the performance.
—Guest Joy

Character Development

Though working these days as a theatrical techy, I have worked for 10 + years in the field of theatre. Generally the standard these days for character development stems from the foundation laid by Stanislovsky in The Actor Prepares. Through research and basic ground work you learn or decide who your character is. For a bit easier read try Robert Cohen's book Acting One. He has taken these initial ideas from Stanislovsky to create the GOTE technique. Which stands for Goal, Others, Tactics, & Expectations. Using this simple model an actor can visually lay out on paper the wants, needs, and goals of there persona. This is also coupled with a basic history of the character, things such as martial status, age, gender...etc. all lead the actor to a deep understanding of the character at hand. Some of this information is provided by the script, some by research (in the case of characters of real people), and some will be based off of decisions made by the actor.
—Guest Theatre

guess

dont make yourself the character but the character yourself.
—Guest charles waridi

Beautiful advice

Thanks for this simple system. I would usually read it through once and then try to memorise each line in the next reading. I always felt really disorganised whenever I used this technique, but I'm sure yours will work wonders for me.
—Guest Doll

It all starts with the play

It seems obvious, but the first place to get insight into your character is by reading the play. Before making any decisions or judgments about your character, read the whole play three times. The first read is a "pleasure read". Just read the play as a whole purely for enjoyment purposes, paying no particular attention to your character. Read the play a second time, this time recording everything that is said about your character, and every detail you can find about the environment and people surrounding your character. Also record everything that the other characters do to affect your character. The third time through, write down everything your character says about others and every change your character makes to the world around them. By this time you should have a pretty good framework to start from.
—Theatrefolk

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