Friday, September 28, 2007

ON ACTING: Walking in the Character'sShoes

The student said acting a 'character' was like 'walking in someone else'e shoes'. I said that was a good description of acting, but I wanted to amend the statement.

To play a character is to walk in your own shoes...and a good actor has a closet full of shoes: high heels for a classy night on the town, slippers for lounging around the house, water proof boots for a rainy day, running shoes for jogging; loafers for casual 'retro' wear, etc.

Certain shoes (characters, personality characteristics) are worn everyday; when we take them out of our personal closets (ourselves) and put them on, we are very comfortable in them. Others are rarely used; they just have been sitting unused in the closet; and when we wear them for the first time, they pinch our toes. Other shoes are old favorites that have fallen into dis-use; they have dried and hardened and need to be broken into use again. Some shoes we have forgotten we had; in fact we deny ownership of them until someone (the director or writer or teacher) points them out to us and asks us to 'put them on'.

An excellent actor is comfortable wearing all fashions of 'character' shoes (personalities); and this changing-of-shoes to suit the occasion/character carries over as well into altered language and movement. (Don't we all walk and feel differently depending on what we are wearing?) A good actor is one who can instantly change his/her shoes--and how they make them feel--depending on the circumstances the scene thrusts them into, and the aspects of personality that the 'character' requires from the actor in such a situation.

Remember: When an actor acts a character, they are wearing their own shoes (aspects of personality), and selecting the ones from their own closet that are appropriate for the occasion.


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