Yes, for almost six weeks now, we’ve been discussing all that goes into creating STRONG CHARACTERS and what the ingredients are for a successful character experience. As with everything of QUALITY, it’s a process of building layer upon layer of character life understanding. If you don’t have your character down, if you don’t own him/her, we (the audience) are going to have a difficult time staying with you on our journey of suspended disbelief. YOU HAVE TO DO THE WORK!
OK! So now that you have your character in place, let’s look at some areas that will help you choose the right outfit for that character. Consider the following carefully and your chances of choosing a great piece will increase considerably. APPLY THIS TO EACH MONOLOGUE PIECE YOU’RE CONSIDERING.
FIT – Would you (as your character) be considered in a CASTING SESSION for this scene (the monologue in question)?
RANGE – Does the piece travel? Does it take you from one place to another? Does your character go through anything? And, if so, what? How is your character changed because of this experience? Take some time to analyze your performance with this choice and see that you can effectively answer these questions positively.
EMOTIONALITY – There needs to be an emotional journey. The piece needs to be effective — meaning it needs to effect us, your audience. How does it make us feel, think, react? Know what you want your monologue to do and see that it does it when going in for your final choices.
MOMENTS – The monologue you’re looking at should have, at minimum, one moment… and if possible, more than one. But, if the piece builds up to a single climactic moment, it really needs to be an impactful one.
CHARACTERISTICS – Where do you come through your character in your chosen piece? Does your monologue allow for your own special qualities to be showcased? See that it does. If not, why are you choosing the piece? DUMP IT! Make certain that your monologue showcases your own uniqueness. AND — be very careful that the monologue doesn’t showcase just the writer. This is YOUR moment.
HEART & SOUL – Unless you’re doing something witty, comedic or something to that effect, you don’t want your monologue to just ride along the top. You know, just spewing words that don’t really do anything. This isn’t the time to be glib. See that your performance piece has depth. For it to touch us, it needs to come from the inner recesses of your being. Does it allow you to make it mean something? Care deeply? Feel deeply? Can you leave it all on the stage floor with this piece? Or, as I more affectionately like to say…the piece should allow you to burn some calories while you’re performing it.
Once you’ve found a good handful of pieces that you feel will work, practice them again and again, making necessary adjustments, until you see which ones feel the best. Don’t be afraid to toss the ones that aren’t dazzling you. It’s all about THE EDIT. And, remember, if it doesn’t grab YOU — chances of it grabbing US will be quite slim.
Next, after we narrow down on the one you ultimately choose (and this may take a few weeks), here’s a peek into where we’re going to go next:
PRACTICE – All of this isn’t going to happen through osmosis. You have to work it. And, work it. And, work it even more. Think along the lines of arranging a vase filled with different flowers. You have to keep moving everything around until you get just the right arrangement of color, size, height, and so on. Continue to play with your performance until you get it right where it needs to be.
GET COACHING – Now, you can only do so much of this on your own. At certain points along the way, it’s crucial to get with a coach (e.g. ME!), someone who knows what they’re doing. A professional who will place an objective eye on it. Inevitably, they will see things that you aren’t able to. Doing so will build your confidence and help keep you from freaking out. The better you know your monologue performance, the less chance of you being overly nervous. A good coach will let you know where you stand so that you can make adjustments or settle into what’s working.
We’ll be doing this all through October in the studio. However, if you feel you’d like more personal one-on-one coaching, just set up an appointment for a PRIVATE COACHING SESSION and we’ll get even more specific and detailed. Heck, if after all of the above you still can’t find the right outfit… I’ll write a custom one for you! Now, remember… I can only do this with private session students.
OWN IT – Take that character into the world…(See The Actors’ Free-Way below). This will help show you how much pressure your character can hold and where you still need to do some more work. You want to be as comfortable with your character (and your chosen piece) as you are with yourself. For some of you, you have to become even more comfortable with your character than you are with yourself. Ultimately, we need to experience the moment(s) you’re creating — not an actor trying to do something. This is not the time to try anything! It’s execution time. IT’S PERFORMANCE TIME! Remember, DON’T TRAIN ON HIRING GROUND!
SUMMARY – Plan your work and work your plan. In your monologue work, if you put in more than you’re expecting to get out of it, you inevitably will succeed! If you’re expecting great things to come from your monologue performance and you’re only doing mediocre work, you’re still dreaming. Either that or you’re so incredibly brilliant at your craft that you can do it in your sleep…and if that’s the case, what are you doing reading this article, you should be off polishing your Oscar.
Taking Your Character into Public Situations.
Once you feel you have your character sussed out, travel to a distant location. Go someplace that you don’t usually frequent or most likely won’t frequent anytime in the near future. Once there, if you haven’t already done so, get into character. Now, very important, set an IN-POINT and OUT-POINT. In- and out-points are extremely important in keeping the assignment just that, an assignment. This way there isn’t any confusion as to who you are and what you’re doing. The IN-POINT begins the exercise and the OUT-POINT ends the session.
Now that you have that sorted out, when fully in-character, go interact with the public. Purchase groceries, try on some clothes, have a meal, stand in line at a coffee shop, test drive a new car. See how you do in these situations. Notice where you’re able to hold character and where you may begin to break. Doing this several different times in different situations will help you to not only strengthen your character, but also know your character better.
NOTE: It’s extremely important that you do this exercise in a non-familiar location. There will be a certain amount of self consciousness you’ll have to deal with if you do it in your own neighborhood. Going out of your own community will allow for more freedom with the character work. Also, make sure to set your IN- and OUT-POINTS. Not doing so may cause complications. And in some cases injury and possible bouts with DID*.
*Dissociative Identity Disorder – only occurring in extreme cases where the actor loses track of where they leave off and the character picks up.