Acting Basics: Getting Into Character
By Kerry Hishon
Acting is much more than just memorizing your lines. You really need to live, breathe, and understand your character. For getting into character, there are many resources out there to get you started analyzing your role and breaking it down. Here are just a few acting basics:
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You’ll want to read through your script many times, making lots of notes about what’s going on in the scene, what words you’re saying, what your character says about him/herself and others, and what other characters say about your character!
- Script Analysis for Actors – Five Steps to Building Your Foundation
- How to Approach Script Analysis?
- How to Analyze a Script? The Professionals’ Method…
What Does My Character Want?
Your character should always want something… otherwise, why are they there?!
(Note – the following links are from writing websites, but can definitely be adapted for actors!)
Verbing – Exploring the script/lines through action words (e.g. I bully, I praise, I push, I entice)
Go through each scene and line. What does your character want in the entire scene? What are they trying to achieve? Then write out a specific, strong verb (action word) that describes what you’re trying to do. For example, your character might say “Why are you doing that?” Are they questioning, blaming, inquiring, accusing? Always keep your overall goal in mind!
- The Top 10 Action Verbs to Have in Your Toolkit
- Script Analysis for Actors – Use Action Words
- A to Z Action Verb List
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Bonus – Extra things to think about!
- What does my character want? What’s their goal?
- Where am I coming from before the scene started? Where am I going after the scene?
- Why do I break into song at this particular moment? What’s the theme/mood/tone of the song?
- How does my character move? What’s their posture/physicality?
- Create a character’s sketch – write down adjectives to describe your character and their personality.
These resources and suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to really understanding your character. It’s important to make your character a unique and interesting person on the stage — otherwise, why are they there in the first place?
Take the time to study and analyze what your character wants, how they think, and how they react to other characters and the situations they find themselves in.
This will, in turn, give your fellow cast mates lots of interesting material to work with, and it will help to create a lasting and memorable experience for the audience to enjoy.