How to create or become a character: Part 2
Ok, so you know where to start now. You have read and studied the material and now it’s time to play.
There is no one perfect way to create a character and you will find that your process will likely be a bit different every time.
I have a practice of asking beginning students in my scene study class what they most want to learn about acting. Most commonly I hear “I want to learn how to really become my character” or “get lost in my character”.
How do you do that?
The script has given you some clues about where you might start. Maybe you discovered your character is extremely shy. Now what? How do you really bring that to life? The trap is to go into a sort of general shyness thing and play everything from a generic shy perspective. The scene then becomes boring because it isn’t active and isn’t at all like real life.
Let’s talk about the idea of working from either the outside in or the inside out.
Let’s start with the inside–the internal life of your character. If I knew my character was painfully shy, I would first look at why. If it doesn’t say in the script I would make it up. Build a rich connection in your imagination about what it’s like to walk in their shoes. Create some movies in your brain about a few painful interactions they have had with other people because of their shyness. Make sure it stirs something up in your or there’s no point. Where do you feel it in your body as you imagine these interactions? Also, what do you personally know about shyness? Maybe you can sensorially recall some interactions you had when you felt really shy? Remember it with your body—any temperatures, sounds, smells that might be associated.
How might you work from the outside in using shyness as an example?
I might try exploring the idea of shyness with my body. Walk around the room thinking about shyness. Try leading with different points on your body and see if one place feels like it helps you. Maybe you find when you lead from your knees it feels right….Try out becoming a statue of “shy”. Freeze (relaxed) in it for a while and see what come up. Then try another pose. And another. Use some of the lines from a scene while in the poses. Another great way to work outside-in is to find some costume pieces that help you. Go shopping as your character and pick out a necklace they might wear. Or a t-shirt. Or a particular pair of shoes.
In some cases you may start with language. If your character has a specific way of speaking or speaks with a dialect this can be a great way in.