Creating effective CHARACTERS is not necessarily an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. Sure, over the course of your creative life you’ve most likely experimented with different aspects of yourself. Some of you may even enjoy playing around with your friends with different character types that you’ve found within yourselves. However, playing around with characterizations and BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE CHARACTER are two completely different things.
Developing a character for a costume party is not what this is about. It can be a jumping off point; but our goal, by the end of this study, is for you to have at least one very well defined character that you will be able to take into an audition and land a role with!
Don’t judge the work as you’re doing it. Explore, experiment, take chances, have fun with it. Once we’re out the back end of this session on character, we can then take a look at just how defined your work has become.
So, let me help you break down some of these mysteries and pull back the curtin on what CHARACTER WORK is all about. (At least as much as possible in this brief article).
WHAT’S WHAT & WHO’S WHO?
- The aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.
- Ludicrously exaggerating the peculiarities or defects of persons or things.
- The creation and convincing representation of fictitious characters.
- When your character has arrived and claimed their territory in the hearts and minds of the world. Or, at least the world you personally live in.
Each character that you play, each person that you bring alive, is your ‘ART’! Character development is at the core of what we do. We create life! We take someone who doesn’t really exist and we ‘exist’ them! The ultimate goal of this process is to keep it REAL – Keep them REAL and BELIEVABLE!
Don’t take this time in your life for granted…it’s much more difficult then you think — however, the payoff is extraordinary and the dividends endless!
These character’s that you’re creating are works of art! They’re creations, they have a past, they have thoughts, feelings, passions…they’re ALIVE! They’re REAL! BELIEVABLE! TANGIBLE! Think of character work as a certain altered aspect of yourself. Use what you already own, what we’ve been working on for the past several weeks and what you know about ‘YOU’as a character, then make all the necessary adjustments to custom fit your ‘creation’.
Once again — do not take this lesson for granted. Do the work! It’s your work. It may seem a bit difficult…and it is! Don’t let that intimidate you. Continue to rolling up your sleeves, cut out your creative time (don’t just try and fit this in somewhere) and enjoy your exploration! You’ll be very glad you did!
Keep the love and the life (believability) in your work. A character without life is called…a monster! Someone void of life, void of love.
When a fictitious character or caricature can be brought to life, defined, and accepted by a society… the work of that actor most certainly has arrived! Some characters are more believable than others by the mear reality of whether or not they truly exist in our world. For instance — Herman and Lily Munster do not exist in our world (as they’ve been created). They’re monsters. However, through the brilliant work of Fred Gwynne (Herman), Yvonne DeCarly (Lily) and the rest of the cast, we’ve come to love and believe in this family as real. If you’re not familiar with The Munsters, you owe it to yourself to do a bit of research. They we’re as much a part of American (if not the word) culture as Mickey Mouse. (Mickey’s a whole different story for another time.)
In dealing with more ‘real world characters’, when you take a look at Vincent, played brilliantly by Tom Cruise in the feature film Collateral, as over the top a human being as Vincent may be, he’s still very much a believable character in our world. Where as monsters don’t exist, hit men most certainly do.
WHAT’S IT TAKE?
Truth and honesty. No easy task. That’s why the greats make the big bucks. Acting is an inside job. The work takes place with inner core believability. You have to believe it first. Once you’ve got that part down, you need to fill your mind with the thoughts of the character (not your own thoughts). Then you begin the building process. Add on a characteristic or two or maybe an effective wardrobe piece. Then try altering a personal dynamic about yourself. Integrate it all and wallah… ! You’re creation comes alive!
The following statement is from CBSI Film Reviewer Big M. She comments on Johnny Depp’s character work as the character Dillinger in the film Public Enemies — I enjoyed watching him… He doesn’t have to say a word… he acts with his eyes. Such expression, you know what he’s thinking, how he feels, just by the expression in his eyes.
Congratulations! We’re ready to meet your new creations! As you all should be aware – this is the week where you will be bringing your characters, your discoveries, your creations, your friends (or enemies), into the studio! So, as a reminder… your starting point (‘IN POINT’) will be leaving your home, getting ready for class or leaving your car once in the studio parking lot. You will come into The Studio and check in under your real name but you will continue to hold character throughout the lesson and assignment, (the assignment being your character introducing themselves to the group through your personal monologue or scene). Your end (‘OUT POINT’) will be the break after everyone has done their work. We will then conduct a short debriefing session and move on into the scene work. There will be a whole lot going on in The Studio this week and a whole lot of interesting energy buzzing about which will make class very fat and full. Be certain to show up on time, in character and ready to go!