So guys I'm currently in three different up-coming Dramsoc shows (one is actually running this week), and I thought I'd do a little blog about character development and how it helps to keep you on your toes and how it makes each charter different.
The character I am currently spending the most time on is Michelle Dubois from "Allo Allo" which is running in UCD dramsoc this week. Michelle is a leader of the French Resistance in wartime France. This is crucial information when thinking about Michelle. Firstly French culture isn't so alien to me as I love french and France itself, but the 1940's France is new to me. So It is important to read up on research of this time period because remember, what you say on stage is coming from the character and it is important to distinguish between the character and the actor.
We did workshops on character a few times in rehearsals, and this is what we did. Walk around the room as your own person, as the actor. Notice how fast you walk, what parts of your body move, how your feet are placed. This will make it easier for you to know when you have stepped out of character on stage. Feel the ground and the way you hold yourself, do you look ahead? Do you look down? Is your back straight or curved, are your shoulders back or forward. Then slowly think about your character and how they would walk, how they would place their feet. Michelle, is paranoid and wears ridiculous disguises so I have her walking slightly hunched over (except when in disguise) and her footsteps are longer strides than mine, and lighter so as to not draw attention to herself. Her head moves quickly to take in her surroundings, she speaks softly but audibly. These are her characteristics and they are quite different to mine so I know when I am out of character. It is difficult to be a character in disguise, because they are trying to put on a performance over their normal attributes, Michelle dresses as a nun, a gendarme and a prostitute. The main thing I focus on here is the head, how does her head move. Her body may move differently, i.e., more upright for the gendarme (french police) and more hunched as a nun. But her head movements stay the same, sharp movements. Take in everything.
Doing small workshops and noticing how your body moves is extremely useful for when you are doing a lot of character driven plays. Another production I'm working on is "Riders to the Sea" by J.M. Synge which will be performed next week. I play the role of Nora, who is the youngest in the play, possibly mid teens and who is the quietest. She is soft and gentle in her movements. She is much closer to Maurya than she is to Cathleen and Bartley. I feel that she is sisterly to Cathleen of course who would inform her of the ways of the world more so than Maurya would, but she would never really speak out of turn to Bartley. I feel this is because she respects him as the older man and the only son left in the household. Very chauvinistic I know but this play is not exactly set in modern times. Her character is completely different to that of Michelle so it is not hard at all to pop in an out between characters. Both born in completely different eras, Michelle is french and used to mainland France. Nora is born and raised on The Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland and is taught that men are out to work and woman are to stay at home. Because she is closer to Maurya her views are similar to her mothers.
I discovered all this information about Nora because of a workshop with the directors. It proved so useful for getting into the mind frame of Nora. Ask yourself questions. Simple questions at first like, Who is this character closest to in terms of relationships? And then proceed to questions like, what happened the night before this play was set? What will happen to the character after? What is the thought process right now from line A to line B. This will come in handy in terms of emotion. Nora is young and so she hasn't got the greatest amount of control on her emotions and so she cries quite a bit. The thought process helps with the bringing up of emotions. I find whenever I have a line that is riveted with emotion I can't help but cry. If you are deep into the thought process and the inner workings of a character it really isn't hard to cry at all.
So keep thinking about your character. Believe in every word you are saying, because they aren't just lines on a page, every sentence has a purpose and needs to be said accordingly. the other character I'm playing is Joanna from "Present Laughter", who I will address in a later post as the other two shows are the more prominent as "Allo Allo" is on this week and "Riders to the Sea" is on Next week.
stay tuned for more!! I will hopefully post up videos soon enough of me acting, perhaps of these characters so that it'll help you in some sense grasp what I'm saying.
Thanks for reading! sorry it's a bit long-winded!!
Peach out!! xxxx