When I am working on a drama course, whether it’s for children, young people or whatever. I usually try to withhold this section for as a long as I can. And then yet use it when my students has run completely dry and tired in the other games.
That would be because the general reaction for me to say “We are going to do characters.” Are that the people I announce this to will start to jump up and down in pure excitement clapping their hands yelling. “Yeas finally, real acting!”
To which I must keep back my groan, take a breather and count to ten before continuing.
Yeas of cause playing a character is an important part of acting, but if you don’t have the other things in check, your awareness, your feelings, your manipulative skills, character study is bloody useless. It’s only the cream on top of the cake.
But let me try and be an adult about this, and just approach it with an even mind and tell about all the greats about this.
So, question one, how does this apply to us as video producers?
Answer is obvious, you all have an answer on the tip of your tounge, just admit it.
But the interest part is here, that all of your answers are probably kind if different.
Some will point to Cinema Snob and say. “Well, he plays a character! And uses this character to do jokes he couldn’t do as himself.” True.. but to an extent I think you can say that about just around.. every-one who sits in front of a camera upstaging themselves.
We all wants to project a certain image thus will all become a character, to an extent.
“Well then.” You might say. “How about the guys whom does several characters? Like Doug Walker?” SO GLAD YOU ASKED!
Yeas, the gift is indeed being able to play more than one character. That is what we want to work with.
And well, all ready now we have a lot of sub categories, how to create a character, how to utilize and build upon that character, how to become a character.. it’s a whole sub section in itself, and I just kind of write this as I go along.
I do like to point to the fact there are two different kind of characters out there. “Dramatic.” Characters and “Caricature.” Characters.
One is the three dimensional characters with an inner life and struggle which develops and results doing a time-line, the other is what comedians uses in their sketch shows, characters you see and recognise within a second and just know whom they are the moment they open their mouth.
But! These two kind of characters over-laps more than you should think at first, the best sort of character would be a mixture of both. A character whom is immediately recognisable, do certain things you recognise and you’ll know what he is about at ones (that is the caricature part.) but also have an inner life going on, an inner struggle which will eventually be exposed then resolved (The dramatic part.)
Characters with a life of their own which is a caricature aspect of you.
There is a saying out there, what-ever character you play, how-ever you dress up, it will always end up a self portrait.
……. I really don’t have any idea whether that is true or not.
But I do know people often end up restricting themselves an awful lot. Having a mentality “I can never play this kind of character.” “I would never be able to convey that.” “I can never appear this way.” Oh yeah, says who?
No really, who told you that? Who’s not to say that if you become aware enough of your motions and movements, becomes good enough at controlling what you protect, basically “Acting.” That you can’t do it?
Becoming an character means you become some-one else, you may don’t know it, but you do in fact act in a certain way in your every-day life, you respond to things in a certain way unique to you only, you talk in a certain way, you walk in a certain way, and it’s all you, and it’s what you want to chance in order to become some-one else.
One of the things I did ones in a while, while studying performance, was becoming… a stalker.
Yep, I was a stalker for a few hours, fortunately I am not the worst stalker in the world, the task was simple, I had to go to town, pick out one of the many people passing by, then stalk him or her while imitating every-thing this person did.. imitate the walk, the stand, how the person held his or hers bag, stopped up.
And yeah.. I did end up doing things completely different than I used to, and it helped me become more aware of my own body image, and if I turned the person I stalked into a character.. which is exactly what I was assigned to do, I would have to work dress and talk like the person.
“Did she just ask us to try and stalk some-one for a few hours….” Yeas.. yeas I believe I did, I know it’s probably breaking your boundaries, but hell, drama sport is about breaking boundaries, and it’s what you will want to keep on doing to improve your acting abilities.
Just make sure to always keep a certain distance so the person you stalk wont notice you, and do it at a crowded place.. any-one would notice if you stalked some-one down an empty street for an hour.
If the person end up noticing you, you have just failed the assignment, but if you are lucky have all ready collected data enough.
Then go home, put ten minutes aside to really explore how that person behaved and walked differently from you, and practise it.
Perhaps you can pick up fictional characters and play them out in your living room, explore and experience how they move about and how they move about differently from you.
You can even just imitate actors performances and ones again, just explore how you talk differently than usual, what they do and how it feels.
Then as you experience how you can become different persons, you’ve just achieved another level of self awareness and thus became a slightly bettor actor, job well done.