Getting into Character.

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Carolyn Shima

Comp and Grammar

March 7, 2003

Audience:  actors and actresses who are just beginning their acting career


        Carolyn Shima is a high school junior who has acted in dramatic and comedic plays and musicals.  Some of her lead roles include Abigail in “The Crucible” and Rosie in “Bye Bye Birdie.”  She is active in both her Community and High School Theater and has been invited to participate in the pre-college intensive drama program at University of California Los Angeles this summer.  She plans to pursue a career in acting after attending college.


Getting into Character


        Imagine a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in which Juliet is portrayed by the actress as a boisterous, uncivilized, obnoxious young girl.  Needless to say, this Juliet certainly would not fit into Shakespeare’s striking play.  The importance of character in drama is immeasurable.  Sometimes, however, it can be difficult for an actor to convincingly portray a character because they are unable to get into character.  Some important parts of getting into character are knowing the background of your character, delivering lines correctly, and expressing the character’s emotions effectively.  


Researching your character

        When acting, it is extremely important to be able to identify with the character.  In order to do this, it may be necessary to do some research.  

Historical plays:  When a production has a historical background the actor can research the true-life basis of the character.  For example, while portraying Abigail in The Crucible, it was very helpful to be familiar with the personality of the actual Abigail Williams.  It may also be helpful to understand the historical background of the time setting, researching the time period of the setting may help the actor to more fully understand the mindset of the times.  

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Fictional plays:  Acting in a completely fictional role can be a little more challenging. If the character itself is not historical, it may be helpful to research the playwright through biographies, since many playwrights include aspects of themselves in their characters.  Analyzing the script may also help you to further understand your character.  Playwrights often add depth to their characters through the words of other characters; be sure to pay extra attention to scenes in which the other characters are talking about your character. The script provides information through footnotes and stage directions as well that will often provide hints ...

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