Friday, May 04, 2007

ON ACTING: An Approach to the Concept of 'Character Development'

Character Development is a concept that encourages a progression, or change in character, as the actor/character proceeds through the plot of a story. Character Development is the beginning, middle and end of the changes of personality generated by and interwoven with the beginning, middle and end of plot.

Changes in plot invariably occur in a script (it would be boring otherwise, wouldn't it?), so why shouldn't it be just as invariable to have personality changes--development--in those very characters that perpetrate and are being effected by those plot changes? (Oh...I suppose a cynic could could argue that people don't change; they just get better at what they are; what passes for changes in people is simply our--and maybe their own--periodic discovery of themselves). Either way, whether you believe in the concept of true character development, or in the concept that human character simply becomes more increasing revealed, character development in a performance is sine qua non desirable in all good acting. (After all...who wants to end a scene where it began...plot-wise or character-wise?!)

Following are a couple of ways an actor can aid themselves in the achievement of this beginning middle and end of character development/revelation:

(1) Enter a scene as stupid as possible; enter a scene as oblivious to future events as your character could possibly be. For example, if the girl's going to leave you by the end of the scene, enter the scene believing you have a great relationship; if you are going to get the great job, assume you are going to remain unemployed forever... Drama and comedy rarely happen to smart, prescient people. They happen to the oblivious.

(2) Assume your character getting their 'objective' in the scene will be easy...and brief. Difficulty and length of effort catches you off guard. (This tactic is really creating a form of character overconfidence, isn't it?) Other character's resistance as the scene progresses becomes a surprising turn of events; making more likely your character's coming up with new (and changing/developing) aspects of personality to counter the surprising resistance from the other character. This 'dumbing-down' tactic will also aid the actor in achieving a moment-to-moment freshness in the scene.

(3) As a variant on (2) above, expect all scenes to be short, and every line to be your last one. Think of all your memorized dialogue (words that the writer has written, and words you have learned) as only money-in-your-pocket, preferably to be not spent. Dialogue is always unexpectedly spent, and only when necessitated by the other character calling for a price: your verbal retort. Good scenes invariably progress line at a time.

(4) Make winning in the scene critical. This will enhance the possibility of character change. (Would-be-winners don't stay with losing tactics too long. If your anger doesn't work in winning your objective in a scene, try sadness. If that fails, try humor; if that fails, try...etc.) Necessary change is the bedrock foundation of development!

This is not a complete list, but hopefully it will get you started...and developing.


Post a Comment

<< Home