Forum: Arts / Acting

Acting 101: Being in Character and the Essence of Acting (karma: 18)
By dancerbabe882
On Mon Apr 11, 2005 06:44 PM
Edited by dancerbabe882 (106483) on 2005-04-11 18:30:49
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2005-04-25 19:36:50 Cleaned up spelling a tad :)
Made sticky by glitterfairy (42646) on 2005-04-25 19:39:31 sticky-worthy

Let me begin with my favorite quote:
"Acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances"
-Sanford Meisner

Mr. Meisner made an excellent point when he spoke those words: he told us that in order to act we must BE our character. Mr. Meisner was one of the inventors of modern day improve. I have noticed many posts with various questions about monologues and accents, crying and emotion and I hope to answer what I can with the knoledge of an actress of 8 years. I hope you read this carefully.

The Beginning: The Audition

I won't lie to you: auditions have scared the crap out of me many times. They keep me occupied for weeks. There are usually three main parts to an audition: the singing, the dancing, and the dreaded monologue. I will cover what you need to know to succeed in those parts.

The most important part of an audition song is knowing that you can sing it well and that you like it. Without those two elements your audition goes SPLAT. If you have to sing a certain song, however, you need to find something that you like about it. Also, make sure that the song is in a key that you can sing. Again, if the key is chosen for you, you will have to practice your breathing so that the maximum amount of air goes into your sound without sounding breathy.

Dancing in an audition can be hard to give advice on because it is does so many different ways. Sometimes you are given choreography that you have to learn in a certain period of time before the audition. Sometimes you are able to design your own dance to be performed with your choice of music. Most likely, you will be taught a dance at the audition and given a little time to rehearse it and then you perform in small groups or alone in front of the judges. In any of those cases, you have to memorize something which takes a great amount of work. Something which happens commonly is that a dancer will put her steps with the notes or words of the song. This WILL most likely mess up your routine. Instead, use the traditional 8 count. If you listen to the music, you should be able to find the 8 count. Very rarely will you be given a dance for an audition which does not have music. If this happens, however, the instructor will most likely give you the counts. It all depends on the audition.

At last we come to the monologue. This is sometimes the most dreaded part of an audition, although, it is my favorite. In order to find a monolauge, you need to know if the one you are looking at fits your age group because it will help you to be more in character. You should also know what kind of vocabulary the person you are acting as uses. If the vocabulary is too advanced or to simple for you, you probably shouldn't use it. If you need to find a monologue you can do a few things. There are many websites which offer monologues that are sorted by age group or show. You can also go to your local library and find a book filled with monologues. These books will usually say what age group or gender they are for or the show that they are from. If you want, you can also pull monolauges from regular books written in first person. Monologues are always in first person because they are soliloquies or conversations with oneself. You can also write your monologues if you so choose.

The Rehearsal

You've made it. You're in the show. And now the rehearsals. A good idea would be to memorize your lines as quickly as you are able and practice them with friends and family on a regular basis. One thing directors HATE is people who learn their lines at the very last minute. The reason you should learn your lines quickly is because once you know them, you will be able to put more emotion into them. By dress rehearsal you should be able to say your lines as if you were your character and they weren't lines at all. You should be in character. You should think like your character and not think like you playing the character. Instead of thinking, I think, therefore, I am, think He/She is, therefore, I am him/her. Every time you rehearse a scene, you should ivent memories of where you were before you came to this place where the audience sees you. Not where your character was because you ARE your character. You should never be concious of the audience. That would be breaking the "4th wall" as it is commonly referred to. Every rehearsal should have the quality of the performance.

The Performance

It's here. You've come all this way and now you get to show the people in those seats a different side of you. Before each show, I close my eyes and imagine myself unzipping the shell of myself and stepping into my character's body. You must become your character. When you are backstage, relive your character's memories and make them your own. At curtain call, smile at the audience and when you come out of your dressing room bask in the glory that is yours. You've done it. You've mastered the ability to be someone else and live their life. You've mananged to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances. Congratulations.


12 Replies to Acting 101: Being in Character and the Essence of Acting

re: Acting 101: Being in Character and the Essence of Acting
By from_lornasmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Apr 18, 2005 07:06 PM
*This should be made a sticky, should it not?
re: Acting 101: Being in Character and the Essence of Acting
By GrishkoGirl
On Mon Apr 25, 2005 07:35 PM
yes it should!
and karma for you!

re: Acting 101: Being in Character and the Essence of Acting (karma: 3)
By Liritmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Apr 26, 2005 12:57 AM
Monolauges are always in first person because they are soliloquies or conversations with oneself. You can also write your monolauges if you so choose.

1. While all soliloquies are monologues, monologues aren't always soliloquies. Take, for example, the Peter Pan monlogue delivered by Jane in Christopher Durang's one-act 'Dentity Crisis. (source) She's speaking directly to her psychologist about a traumatizing, albeit absurd, childhood event. Or at the end of Death of a Salesman, when Linda delivers the monologue at Willie's grave. She's talking to Willie, albeit indirectly and a little too late. And in The Fantasticks, the monologue preceding Luisa's solo Much More, she speaks directly to the audience. And finally, the least common of all, is the soliloquy... Shakespeare wrote quite a few of them into Hamlet.

2. Writing monologues is a big no-no for auditioning. I'm not saying some people don't have a certain amount of success with it, but it's not something that's generally encouraged. You want material your auditioners can get their hands on, preferrably that they're at least familiar with. I'm not saying run out and buy a book of monologues and audition with your favourite one, either. They're a bit too familiar with those, and a lot of times, these books don't even reference the play the monologues were taken from. Your best bet is to sit down and read a few plays. Find a character you relate to and can portray well. Learn the monologue in context of the script. Know where it's coming from and where it's going. How is this excerpt of dialogue (which, generally, is what a monologue is) significant in the course of the plot? What happens before it? What happens after it? Was something said in these phrases that may have altered the plot just a little bit? How did it move the story along? What's the subtext? Where is this character coming from? What's his (or her) objective? Ulterior motives? In a self-written monologue, this material is lacking. There is no story leading up to this pivotal moment, and there's nothing that happens as a result of it. For a workshop performance, this is okay. For an audition, not so much.
re: Acting 101: Being in Character and the Essence of Acting
By stagelove
On Sun May 15, 2005 04:13 PM
That is exactly right, soliloquy. Good job posting all that! :P
re: Acting 101: Being in Character and the Essence of Acting
By emilyjane
On Sun Jun 05, 2005 06:14 AM
Wow thats incredible! This will help a lot with my drama stuff, I hate momologues at the moment but that's a definite help!


re: Acting 101: Being in Character and the Essence of Acting
By SingingaWay247
On Sat Jun 11, 2005 03:03 PM
I agree that soliloquoys are the least common. I have done numerous monologues and have been in numerous straight plays and musicals, and rarely do I (meaning the character) ever talk to myself. I firmly believe that monologues are not about 1 person; they are about 2 or more people. Monologues are scenes without scene partners. So, what I personally find most helpful in working on a monologue is finding someone to be my "scene" partner when practicing. For example, in The Dreamer Examines His Pillow there is a monologue where Donna confronts her father about whether her life is really her own or if it's her mother's history repeating itself. And she blames her father for treating her mother so badly. If I were to work on this monologue, after reading the play several times, I would ask one of my friends (preferably one that acts) to be the father during the monologue, and thus, I (Donna) would react to what my father was doing during the monologue brushing aside preconceived notions to produce something truly organic. This exercise extremely helps with subtext (the lines between the lines/ what the character's thinking from moment to moment).
Because I know that living as a character in the moment is what we strive for, try not to do the monologue the same way every time in order to explore all the possibilities. Oh! One thing that I find extremely helpful for auditioning is finding out what kind of monologue the director is looking for. If you cannot contact the director, read the script in advance. Is it comedic or dramatic? Classical or contemporary? Are the characters in the show larger than life or are they simply natural? Having this knowledge will benefit you more than you know.
re: Acting 101: Being in Character and the Essence of Acting
By lacey_graham69
On Sun Jun 12, 2005 11:52 AM
That is a good post. Good luck in acting! *It must be hard having to memorize lines!*
re: Acting 101: Being in Character and the Essence of Acting
By celticfeetmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Jul 03, 2005 12:53 PM
That should definitely be made a sticky; great post. Thanks; it will help when I audition for my musical theater course in university! Thanks again; I rated you up!
re: Acting 101: Being in Character and the Essence of Acting
By tinylildancermember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Aug 16, 2005 06:22 PM
wow, you really helped me there! Thanks a bunch!
re: Acting 101: Being in Character and the Essence of Acting
By PinUpGirlmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Aug 24, 2005 09:55 PM
The simplest way I found to remember the difference between a monologue and a soliloquy was during a monologue, there are other people on stage. During a soliloquy, only the character who is speaking is on stage.
re: Acting 101: Being in Character and the Essence of Acting
By Chevy14
On Sat Sep 10, 2005 02:11 AM
I LOVE YOU! haha i have my musical audtition in like 3 weeks * gasp*. Im in a class and we usually have 3 months prep but this year we only have like 3 weeks and im so veryy nervous! EKKKK..hmm. Your thread made it easier. Its sad because im one of the 4 grl seniours who people think of as one fo theee best in our class but when it comes to audtining im such a reck. lucically my teach knows i get stressed and judges me more form my class improv and singing while i do still aud. its not as big as a stress...but ive printed yours out to keep for when shes not my teacher anymore...and i need a kick in the pants!

Thank you
By actress4life
On Thu Sep 15, 2005 05:12 AM
Thank you so much for all of the help!


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