|What type of psychological, physical, and emotional preparation do you do before a performance?
I always stretch, get the body going, get it flexable. ALWAYS VOCAL!!! Get the chords ready to be pulled! And always connect with the piece of art I am working on. I eat light, and work out daily.
I ask myself, "This is as if . . ." Knowing what the character as written is doing and what impedes him leads me to find something in myself that is liek that. I then daydream about this and incorporate as many detail in the daydream as possible.
I am, what I like to call, a "thinker". It means that I am constantly in my head, which, for an actor isn't exactly a good thing. So while I will do stretches to warm up my body and vocal warms ups for the voice, psychologically, I like to space out. I want to stay out of my head so I don't plan moments in the production. That way, I can perform with the greatest amount of spontaneity and authenticity.
I basically sit back and relax and do some basic yoga. I do some vocal warm ups and then sit down and get in my zone until I go on! At the same time before I go on, I get butterflies in my stomach, so i then use that as energy to perform at my maximum potential!
I read and re-read the piece and write out what the character is trying to accomplish in each scene and how that relates to their scene partner. I write out how they look, how they physically walk, talk, and think about what life experiences they had that makes them who they are today.
Deep breathe. Tell myself it is okay to be crazy, to not be me Let go.
If it's theatre and I'm on at 8, I make sure I eat a good dinner at 5.30. You won't see me from 7 onwards. I will make myself very quiet and focus on the performance at hand. I may do some breathing exercises, but otherwise I'll be as silent as possible thinking about the character/s I'm about to play. Like trying on their skin in my mind.
I like to do some breathing exercises, a vocal warm up, usually some stretches, or if the role demands it perhaps a physical warm up too. I try to clear my mind of everything that has happened up till the point in the day when I start to prepare, and start to get in to character as I go about putting my costume on.
Above all else, I like to have a pot of tea in my dressing room at least an hour before I get started!
Bit of vocal warm up some streching. and really just clear my head and make sure I know what im doing. Sometimes ill do an Ultimate warrior dance but only when no ones looking.
Physically I try and keep fit but it really depends on the demands of the role, psychologically I need all the decks clearer of the day to day routines in life (bills, etc.) and emotionally to think like the character and not as myself as that I find keeps the nerves down a lot.
I get inside the character's head & mindset. Thats usually enough.
I don't do a lot. I like to have a good think obviously about what the character's are thinking and feeling at every point in the script; and what their motivations are at every point in the script; and I go through a script and mark all the changes in emotion and motivation etc and label them. It's just the way I do it. Other than that I wait until the moment comes and I can feed off of the other actor. I learn my lines; but I try not to have any fixed way of delivering them; as often when you are opposite someone else, the scene can turn on it's head once they bring what they have to it.
I usually try to put myself in the situation and determine a mindset for the character. I don't over analyze it.
I often find writing a diary or a few notes as the character can help me get mentally from one scene to another, especially if there has been an unseen build up of emotion. The physical effects of make-up and costume can be very helpful too, to push you further away from yourself and towards your character.
|In terms of every performance it is all about preparation. When I was younger this was achieved through rehearsal and developing the character as rehearsals went on.
However nowadays before I start rehearsals I will always read the script a number of times - if based on a novel I read the novel as this can always give you more information about the character however I won't watch any films or other stage productions as I do not want to be influenced by someone elses performance of the characters I am playing. I write a biography for my character so I know where they come from up to the point a play starts and depending on the dircetor have also worked thorugh hot seat exercises where the rest of the company ask you questions about your character and situations in your biography or within the play itself.
Before each performance I will always do a vocal and physical warm up - this can sometimes (especially if I am working as well as performing) be a few hours before the performance so it is all about keeping yourself prepared. As part of the preparation there is also costume, accent and overall look of a character to take into account as this can help with the performance. For example playing the drag queen Arnold in 'Torch Song Trilogy' it was not the full body waxing, fabulous dresses, wigs and jewellery that got me into the character but the high heels which changed the way I stood and walked completely.
I would add a word of caution into any preparation that you might do - always be open and ready to react to what other actors around you are doing both in rehearsal and also in performance. What I love about being on stage is those subtle changes we all make and suddenly finding new nuances in performance which you never knew before. Don't lock yourself into a single performance - especially on stage - as then you cannot react to the different way your fellow actors might deliver a line.
As an actor you also have to find what works for you - no two people will have the same way of preparing. Some like to work out every beat, moment, thought and action - others will look at the overall arc of the scene and know their journey but be flexible enough to play with the various moments as they are delivered to them in that instance.
Your style and way of preparing will change and this will be through people you work with, classes you do, experts or practioners you have an opportunity to observe or do a workshop with. Take what feels right for you and discard those bits that don't.
As my movement teacher when I undertook my post grad said 'You may not understand this today, tomorrow or next year...it might be in 5 or 20 years before this particular exercise makes sense'. I was always being pulled up for not acting with my whole body but when she came to see me perform in Toronto her comment was simply 'That's it - it was all there'. Sometimes what we learn just needs to perculate through our consciousness and into our bodies so that we do things instinctively without having to think every single step of that preparation through.
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