- What is the character’s occupation? What does this person do most of the time? What clothes would they wear? If you’re in an audition situation, you want to come wearing clothes that would be appropriate to that character. The character has a certain socio-economic position that you want to portray. In acting class, this could simply mean changing what you are currently wearing to fit the character as best you can in the moment. And I would very much advise that you do this in class because it is one of the most important aspects of feeling the character. If you are playing a man in a suit and you have on a T-shirt, blue jeans and tennis shoes you must imagine that you’re wearing a suit and act appropriately to that costume. No matter what clothes we are wearing, they are a costume to the actor.
- You must decide the character’s emotional state. You have to make this choice as you read the script through the first time. Is your character happy or sad? Or a different color of sad, disillusioned, for instance. When you have to make up your mind quickly, pick one word and identify that as your emotional state, then watch for any kind of beat change where that may transform. Which leads us to…
- Look for the beats in the script. These are the change points. Every script I’ve seen has points of change in it. This is a psychological reality based on life. One emotion or reality gets stated and then we move on to the next topic in the same conversation. Any major change is a beat. Perhaps the first beat is just creating rapport and then we move into the real point of what the character was to get across, then that would be two different beats.
4. Ask yourself what your character wants. What is it that drives you? What do you want to get from the other person or from the situation? It’s good to want that thing or situation with a lot of passion. We like seeing people who play strongly for what they want. This is where building backstory is really important. You don’t have to know very much about the script or character to start building credible backstory which will help you play that human individual. Everyone is driven by something, and you want to make those choices and see and feel those things that you want and and be thinking about how to get them, in the moment.
- Decide a moment before. You must know what happened directly prior to this scene. What caused this scene to happen? If you can make this determination, it will drive you in the first part of the scene. The moment before is what creates the scene. If something heavy duty just happened, you are immediately affected by that. If the couple just had their first kiss, they are immediately affected by that. If you play the moment before in an audition situation, it will instantaneously create the most mysterious of all acting abilities: the ability to create something which is not there. This has the power to immediately engage the people who are sitting behind the table.
Keep this as a check list and you will find success.