Character Work

Thursday 8th September 2016

On Thursday 8th September 2016 we had a session on character and observation which I also wrote about in my blog. We began by walking around the room and picked another person in the room to observe. We looked at the way in which they walked and then tried to copy it, after this we then exaggerated the features of how they walked. This showed how much small traits like how someone walks can vary so much between different people. The way people walk can also reflect peoples impressions of that person, so for acting it was really useful being able to see what other people in the group thought about each persons walk, so that in the future I can apply the different traits to build a more believable character. We also looked at how people hold themselves and how this can sometimes reflect status, for example standing tall with your chin slightly raised connotes power and authority. This was again interesting to see how slight variations in body positioning can affect how people see your character. I am going to be looking out for how people walk and stand more closely in my everyday life now, just so I can see in real life situations how it shows a persons emotions towards what they’re doing. Hopefully this will develop my skills in observation and also help me to gain a knowledge of how to realistically show emotion without over exaggerating.

Thursday 15th September 2016

We looked at the German Actress and theatre practitioner Uta Hagen’s questions to ask yourself in order to act. They included, who am I?, What time is it?, Where am I?, What surrounds me?, What are my given circumstances?, What are my relationships?, What do I want?, What is in the way? and What do I do to get it?. I found these really useful because they are so versatile as you can apply them to every character you may play in acting. Also when we asked ourselves these questions before doing a small improvised scene, they helped us to really develop on what we were doing and giving it more consideration to the circumstances. Uta Hagen’s questions are also the ones that Stanislavski suggested in his work and as a practitioner I enjoy learning about him and his methods. I will be referring back to these questions later on as they help to make a character more believable.

Thursday 29th September 2016

We looked at the idea of making characters from stereotypes and took the two binary opposites of a child/toddler and an elderly person and talked about the stereotypes of how they move and reasons for this, so that we ourselves could recreate this believably. I have learnt that the reasons why a person does something is really crucial in acting and goes back to Uta Hargens questions for acting. The understanding is good for knowing what to do with every joint of your body and physically creating these stereotypes. Stereotypes are good in theatre as it can show an audience exactly who you are playing, this will be especially useful in the commission work as story telling through theatre often have stock characters. For the elderly we followed the dominant ideology that they are slow in moving and this is often from fear of falling and painful joints. To do this physically we had to make our joints feel heavy meaning we moved slower and in more of a shuffling form. We also had to look at our feel which gave us a slight hunch and also showed the fear of falling over. Then for the characterisation of a toddler we picked up on the fact that they have large heads in proportion to their bodies which is why they often lead with their heads and stumble about, due to the fact they find it hard to balance. We also tried to make our eyes as wide as we could and tried out different scenarios such as moving as a toddler if they wanted something or if they were crying. This session was useful as we went through the steps you would do when taking stereotypes and recreating them yourself to be believable which in acting will be something I will come back to.

Thurday 3rd November 2016

In our character lesson we developed our commission characters further, as we looked at Jacques Lecoq and the approach to acting using seven levels of tension. These different levels of tension can be linked to any character as you can find where your character would be on this scale. This helps with how you hold yourself and move as you know what state of tension to hold in your body. We decided that I am a different level of tension to the other two children as I am playing a more quirky and alert character. This lesson really interested me so I looked into it further at home. The states are listed bellow:

  1. Exhausted or catatonic. There is no tension in the body at all.
  2. Laid back – the “Californian” (soap opera). Everything is cool, relaxed, probably lacking in credibility.
  3. Neutral or the “Economic” (contemporary dance).  The right amount, present and aware and normally the state of tension before something happens. You move with no story behind your movement.
  4. Alert or Curious (farce). Look at things. Sit down. Stand up. Indecision.
  5. Suspense or the Reactive (19th century melodrama). Is there a bomb in the room? The crisis is about to happen. All the tension is in the body, concentrated between the eyes. An inbreath. There’s a delay to your reaction. The body reacts. John Cleese.
  6. Passionate (opera). The tension has exploded out of the body. Anger, fear, hilarity, despair. It’s difficult to control.
  7. Tragic

I found these definitions:

Drama Resource. (2016). Seven Levels of Tension. Available: http://dramaresource.com/seven-levels-of-tension/. Last accessed 05 Nov 2016.:

Thursday 2oth October 2016

For our first commission piece, Karolis, Sabrina and I are playing three main characters in our scripted piece. It is targeted at young children so we really wanted to develop three very different characteristics for the three of us and make our characters as similar to storybook stock characters as possible. We wanted a way to show that they were siblings and find a way to show that they were related but also have our own unique characterisations to make us different and interesting. We spent a lot of time experimenting vocally and physically to find a combination of three characters which could bounce of each others energy. In the end we decided that Karolis would be the strong and brave heroic story book stereotype, with a bold presence and loud confident voice, Sabrina would take on an intelligent middle child character who wanted to do the right thing and then I would be playing the runt of the children, who was a little slow and wanted to fit in with her older siblings but it wouldn’t until the end of the script where she becomes the heroin and they finally accept her. To show this, I plan on using my shorter height to my advantage and also give myself a higher and more confused sounding voice. For movement I will keep her light on her toes but fast paced and scuttled, almost a little out of control to show her eagerness. Hopefully these characters are ones we can develop further in our commission process, but I found the experimentation a really useful tool for trying out possibilities for characters.

Tuesday 13th December 2016 

In our lesson today, I was told that the tutors wanted me to perform a love sonnet for the Haugley Barns christmas performance I will be a part of next Thursday. As a result of this, we decided that it would be nice for the class to help me in performing it and give me some tips on how to characterise when performing a sonnet, as I have never done one to an audience before. We spent some time where we all analysed the specific language used in the sonnet, which made it much easier to understand what I was saying and therefore much easier to understand the character. It showed me that in-depth analysis of the language can really lead to a more informed performing of a piece and you can grasp a character far better. Although I was speaking the words in a poetic way, I soon realised that I needed to act it much more and show the fact that she was in love and to what extent she was. I then had some fun with the way I used my voice to emphasise certain words to bring out how much she loved this man. This helped make the speech more powerful and showed how infatuated the character was. As I will be performing this piece with Ryan Adams, who will be doing a modern sonnet after mine, I didn’t want to make it a movement heavy piece. However, to get across this love struck woman, I added lots of gestures and smaller movements to express her euphoria.

 

Thursday 5th January 2017

Our latest commission requires the year one actors to do a silent movie inspired piece for the inspired by film brief. Hence today we focused primarily on over the top reactions and melodrama to capture the style of silent movies and their characters, which often go to extremes with facial expressions and reactions as they have to compensate for the lack of audio. Lynn separated the group into two teams and I was put with Mia, Liam, Eren, Karolis and Tom. We then were given a title of a short piece which we would have to create using no sound but focus on our characterisation. We had ‘Impending doom’, ‘A Courageous Journey’, ‘Lunatic at large’, ‘The Fainting Girl’ and ‘Arrival Of The Alien Ccreatures’. My favourite was ‘The Courageous Journey’, where we took the stereotype of having an unsafe precarious bridge that our characters needed to cross and we had characters that were over the top stock stereotypes. Firstly we had Karolis who moved in a confident and brave manner to show his leadership position in the group. Eren then took on the role of the old man who pretends to fall but is fine, Tom  chose to be the nervous companion who pretending he is tough for the women, Mia and I took on the scared damsel in distress stereotype girls, who needed Karolis to go back and pull us through to the other side of the bridge. Finally Liam chose to take on the cocky character who thought it was fine to go across the bridge but ended up falling through. These characters all worked really well, as we really committed to the stereotypes and used our facial expressions and body language to show our disposition and then our characters. This lesson was enormously useful at creating large over the top characters which we will need for this upcoming commission and undoubtedly future projects too. It got all of the group used to exaggerating the features of our characters that makes the audience aware of who is playing what, especially when we have no dialouge to help us.

Thursday 23rd February 2017

In Lynn’s characterisation lesson, we started with us all walking around the room. We then had to start noticing the way we walked and then emphasise the characteristics of that walk. I have very inward facing feed and am quite light when I place my feet down. After this we took on someone elses walk and then emphosise them. I chose  Justin because his walk is a complete juxtaposition to mine, as he walks with his feet pointing out and is heavy footed. He is also relatively slow and swings his arms, where as I am more used to walking at a faster pace in a direct fashion. It was really interesting to feel the difference in my body and the way I started to hold myself, which is something I will be able to recall for characters who might have a similar movement style to Justin. It was also really interesting to see Tom, who took on my walk. I started to notice things that I did but never really knew I was doing. It allowed myself to become aware of what I did and how I move. This understanding will give myself much better control over my body and what I do with it, now that I am more aware. We then continued to walk around the room as Lynn would call out different scenarios and emotions that we needed to show, through the way that we moved. This helped us in creating characters that are instantly recognisable for what they need to be shown feeling. An example is when she asked us to walk around as if we knew something that no one else did. It helped us to not exaggerate too much but really feel the character and recall on past experiences we have had and to then apply them to the way we moved. We then spent the second half of the lesson, looking at a scene from ‘Twelfth Night’ by ‘William Shakespeare’. Specifically we were to focus on the character of the ‘Clown’. Liam, Eren, Will and I were put into a group to discuss how we could portray the clown but in a more modern way. I suggested a Rumpelstiltskin inspired character and then Liam put forward the idea of a Del Boy from ‘Only Fools And Horses’. We played about with these two characters and then showed them back to the class. We will hopefully work on the physicality of the ‘Clown’ in a lesson next week.

image1-3

Monday 27th February 2017

We started the morning with Lynn looking at character and building characters from the dominant ideologies but also trying to keep them relatively realistic. We walked around the room and revisited the ways  that different people move and walk. We talked again about how young toddlers struggle for balance and how emotionally they react very different to what we do. Also how when representing an elderly person, they often have to shuffle, struggle to get up and sit down and also waddle when turning due to their bodies hurting. After this exercise, we then proceeded to a new task where we sat in a circle and would pull out character stereotypes at random. We would then have to characterise them physically and with our voices, in a way that was instantly recognisable but didn’t state exactly what character they were and was still with in the realm of realism. The first one I randomly selected was ‘An Aging Rock Star’. For this I decided to use a husky voice, as if they had a weaker voice from years of singing and probably smoking. I also built on the common stereotype of people wanting celebrities autographs so when I did the improvised scene with Will, I said I wasn’t doing autographs anymore. Also I chose my language carefully and made sure to use words that had connotations of performing as a rock star and rock music. On top of this, I tried to play him cool and used language such as ‘man’ and ‘dude’ as this is something I associate with old rock stars. For the second character, I got an ‘Old Knowledgable Sailor Man’. For him, I had to act as if I had just entered the wrong room. When I entered I said that the weather was ‘awful stormy today’ and that I needed to get back to the ‘harbour’ if anyone could point me in the right direction. I hunched myself a little as I wanted to show he was elderly and also that he had to work in an environment that required a lot of manual work, so would likely have back or joint problems. Vocally, I gave him a typical sailer accent, so that people would automatically recognise the stereotype I had been given. Finally, the last character stereotype that I had to play, was a ‘Manchester Stoner Bloke’. For this I used the Manchester accent, as this was one of the main things vocally that could tell the audience a key part of my character. I also made my voice low, to make sure I was clearly portraying a ‘Bloke’. I sat on a chair with my legs open, as this is a typically masculine way of sitting and I thought that it would help emphasise the character. For the language, I talked about how amazing everything was and shared the mimed drugs with Jess, whilst we talked about women in a stereotypically manly way. I think I was successful at characterising all of these three characters, and the group managed to guess who I was playing each time. We then took the idea of having recognisable characters built off of dominant ideologies and applied it to the Shakespeare ‘Twelfth Night’ scene between ‘Viola’ and the ‘Clown’, that we looked at on thursday. We were to use one of the randomly selected stereotypes for the Clown. I was paired with Karolis and he chose to play the clown as they ‘Extravagant Gay Man’. It actually worked pretty well with the Clowns lines and could be a modern-day interpretation of the character.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s