Preparing for a Role
You made it; you’re holding a script for your new role. Now how do you prepare? Landing this part is a pivotal moment, take a second to enjoy it. Meryl Streep summed up the adventure you are about to embark on; “Giving voice to characters that have no other voice - that’s the great worth of what we do.”
Knowing the Script
In your first read-through of the script, be aware of what you’re feeling. What is your connection to your character and their story? Now read it again, but slowly. Let your mind imagine the scene.
Don’t start thinking about how you’ll portray this character yet. Instead, let the story play out in your mind as you read. Let yourself get caught up in it, rather than planning ahead to how you’ll act this part.
Learn your character. Who are they? What is it about them that resonates with you? How can you tell their story in an authentic, genuine way?
Don’t just memorize your lines, know them. Know what story you’re telling, beyond what your character is saying. Build off your fellow actors and what they’re feeling as well. Doing casual read-throughs with the rest of the cast will help build a rapport that will strengthen your performance.
Build your Character
Many actors skip the essential step of research. Beyond learning your lines and knowing the story, you need to understand it. Your role might be set in the past, so research that era. Perhaps your part refers to a political event; it’s essential that you understand the reference.
At the beginning of rehearsals, identify anything in the script that’s unfamiliar to you. Something as seemingly insignificant as not recognizing a reference can take away from the overall credibility of your representation. Your research will deepen your understanding and strengthen your character.
Often dialogue will have a “double entendres”, or double meaning. A quick internet search can ensure you understand both implications. Now when you deliver these lines, you will know where to emphasize to portray both intentions to your audience.
Your script may include foreign words. Not only do you need to know the meaning, you also need to know the proper pronunciation. A mispronunciation is jarring and will pull the audience out of the story.
Take some time to live life like your character would. If you are playing the role of a bookie, go to an online betting website and place a bet. Understand how the system works. This effort will lend authenticity to your portrayal.
Go Break a Leg
You’re finally getting your big break. You have the role of your dreams. Now you can prepare to do it justice. Your groundwork will be pivotal to your success.
Take the time to know and understand the script beyond your character’s role. Spend the time to do your background research. Fully understand the time, era, location, and context of the story.
Your time spent behind the scenes will equip you for success on the stage. Your research will strengthen your craft. Now go break a leg.