WHAT MAKES AN ACTOR
It is fascinating to watch an actor, a person you know well, transform themselves into someone else.
When an actor accepts a role, often the first thing they do is to create a “Back Story”. This is an explanation of how the character has ended up where they are at the start of the play. They will maybe decide:
- How old they are
- Are they male, female or it doesn’t matter
- Old? Young?
- Street-wise, naive?
- Calm, excitable, bad-tempered, aggressive, optimistic….
- What has happened to them in the past? This will influence how that character will react and behave as the play develops
Once they’ve done that, they will go through the script to give their words “an action”.
- What is the character feeling when they say each sentence?
- How will their face show what they are feeling?
- And their body language – what will that show: the same as their face, or the opposite.
- Will their voice show the same emotion as their body and face?
- Will they speak loudly, directly to another actor or to themselves?
What kind of voice will they use:
- an accent?
- what age will their voice portray?
- Is it a kind voice or evil?
- Emotional or dead pan?
And then the hard work begins as the actors learn their lines: the words they have to speak. This may take a long time or a short time. In general, young people learn their lines very quickly. Older actors have to really work hard at it!
But this is the most important part: once you can say your lines without having to look at your script, you can really start to feel that you are someone else.
As they start to learn their lines, the actors experiment with talking and moving and reacting to other people on the stage in different ways.
During rehearsal, the Director may suggest other ways of speaking and moving.
As the rehearsal process progresses, it become obvious what works and what doesn’t, what the actor is comfortable with and what they are not.
Early on during rehearsals, the actors will start to use props: things that they use on stage. The props are a big help to the actor to “feel” the part.
The next step is to start wearing costumes and again this helps the actor to feel at home in their new “skin”.
The last rehearsal before the performance in front of an audience is the “Dress Rehearsal” which is the same as a show but without the audience. Actors, the sound and lighting tecchies and backstage crew are nervous and excited.
This is the last chance that the director has to make sure that the show is going to be the very best that the whole acting company can put on.
And then suddenly, before you know it, it’s time for
And another show has started!