Developing skills for drama
The definition of actor or actress is; a who in a production and who works in , , , or in that capacity. Their main job is to interpret a dramatic character.
Actors, like singers, musicians and dancers are performing artists and specialists in the field of entertainment. Actors may act on stage or become involved in film, television or radio productions. Since singing, dancing and the playing of instruments form part of many productions, it is to their advantage to have some knowledge of, or talent for the other performing arts.
During their careers, many performers choose to specialise in a specific field of acting. Some actors find live theatre demanding and rewarding, while others prefer acting in front of a camera. Depending on the media used, different skills are required of actors. Actors involved in live theatre make greater use of exaggerated movements and voice-projection than persons acting in front of a camera do. Film actors employ more subtle body movements and facial expressions as their audiences often view them from the close-up angle of the camera. Someone involved in radio production primarily makes use of voice modulation and intonation in order to create the desired expression. The acting techniques may also depend on the type of role actor’s play.
Some actors may have the appearance and personality which enhance their skill as comedians, while others may have the assets and skills required for the interpretation of serious dramatic roles. Versatility in all areas of dramatic performance creates more employment opportunities for the actor.
Despite what many people say about people who take a career in acting the profession is far from an easy one. It requires hard work and serious vocal, physical and mental training. It needs long hours of study and intense concentration as well as discipline.
I believe that one of the most important skills that an actor can obtain is to have a relationship or rapport with the other actors and the audience, and to make the audience believe that they are the character, if they can do that they have performed well. Obviously there are many other skills need to become a success in the industry, such as patience because often actor have to go sometime without work. Also perfecting vocals and movement is vital for a good performance, but not to over analyse the performance; as Michael Caine once said “less is more”. Deciding how to scale the performance is vital sometimes but not always.
When rehearsing or researching a role an actor must be observant to see how that character behaves but they must know the right level of research to do as before it can lead to over thinking the role causing a over worked performance that does not look natural.
To be versatile can benefit an actor greatly because it enables them to play many different roles such as; comedy, drama and classical. By sticking to just one genre the actor can become pigeon holed by directors and miss out on many opportunities to perform other genres.
For many types of acting especially stand-up, timing is crucial. For most types of performing in front of an audience you need some sort of timing if the actor didn’t then the performance would not work, conversations wouldn’t run smoothly. For stand-up comedy or a comedy play comic timing is needed to fully engage the audience.
Actors also need to be healthy and keep their bodies in good condition, back in Shakespearian times at the Globe theatre the actors were expected to do their own stunts. Their skills would include sword fighting skills and they had to be able to fall convincingly.
Acting is a form of communication and the actors are the medium through which writers' thoughts are communicated to audiences. Actors therefore should be able to read, analyse and interpret scripts thoroughly before they learn their parts, otherwise getting halfway through rehearsals and finding out that they do not understand the concept of the script because a great deal of an actors time is taken up by rehearsals. They take place under the guidance of directors who have knowledge and experience of acting, design and stage management. Actors therefore follow the directions and advice of directors. Movements and gestures, vocal and speech skills, pauses, facial expressions and many other acting techniques, are practised and repeated, until a polished performance is obtained so that the performance is memorable.
To be successful and improve at whatever you do, not just in performing, you must know your skills, weaknesses and most importantly your aims. This is where a skills audit comes in; it allows me to highlight my strengths and weaknesses, therefore allowing me to identify my own personal aims and move forward in my learning process.
Strengths and Weaknesses
My first and probably best strength is being able to confidently assume a persona very distant to my own; I am usually quite reserved but have no problems playing someone emotionally out of control as I did for my GCSE drama exam. I especially become more confident when I am in costume because I can therefore feel separate from myself. By playing many different personas I can further develop this skill, therefore making me more versatile and able to perform many roles and not be pigeon holed into a certain genre. An actor’s methodology is used to create a characterisation from the actor’s feelings, memories and sensory perception. For me relaxation is a key part to focus me into thinking like the character and to release all physical, but also mental, tension.
Another is that I can change the tone and dynamics of my voice quickly and fluently which is useful if I am saying my thoughts aloud and they are different to what I am saying to other characters, like I did in my GCSE piece, this is very useful when doing voice work. I will improve this skill by practicing different voices.
I can come up with unique and original characters to play; this makes my performance more interesting, but I also research my characters personality, this is how many actors work, such as David Tennant who had brain injuries, for a part allowing him to have an insight into their lives. When researching a role or character I like to recognise the characteristics and mannerisms of others and compare them to my character if they have a similar personality, because it helps me build up a multidimensional character. Also trying to have empathy for a character can help, if you can’t have empathy then you would struggle to put yourself in the mindset for that role.
Another major strength is costume, getting into costume helps me greatly when getting in to role for a performance; it sort of puts me in the mind set therefore dramatically improving my performance.
I can be versatile when it comes to characters I am able to play an energetic young child or a cantankerous old man. This is important because it means I am not limited to certain roles although I am better at some characters and if given a choice I may have a preference. I can improve this by trying new roles completely different to my situation.
I can accept constructive criticism, and try and bring whatever has been said into my next performance, I like receiving constructive criticism because it means I can improve with the help of others. This is something I think is very useful because I cannot possibly see every aspect of a character that other people may be able to, by listening I can perform to the best of my ability and see how others see me.