During a recent rehearsal for The Wedding Singer, one of my actors asked for some exercises to help them really understand their character and make them REAL. Of course, I was happy to help!
Acting is much more than just memorizing your lines. You really need to live, breathe, and understand your character. So read on for three exercises to help you get to that point — along with lots of links to give you even more ideas!
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Script Analysis – Breaking down the script into smaller pieces and really figuring out what’s going on
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 (Theatrefolk)
- Acting 201: Knowledge You Need for Script Analysis (The Jason Bennett Actor’s Workshop)
- How to Approach Script Analysis? (Backstage.com)
- How to Analyze a Script? The Professionals Method… (Oz Emag – Australia’s Premier Entertainment Magazine)
- Script Analysis for Actors (Beginners Guide to Acting.com)
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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!)
- What Does Your Character Want? (Fiction Notes)
- Your Characters: What Do They Want? (Fiction Fix)
- What Does Your Character Want? (Writing4Success)
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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 (Backstage.com)
- The Verbing Actor (Actor’s Foundry)
- Script Analysis for Actors – Use Action Words (Theatrefolk)
- A to Z Action Verb List (My Voice and Performance Coach)
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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 characters sketch – write down adjectives to describe your character and their personality
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