Know your Character’s Journey – Stan the man (Konstantin Stanislavski) knew his stuff. The number of prestigious drama schools that base their curriculum around his teachings only proves that he is perhaps the most influential figure when it comes to acting technique. His three pivotal acting books: An Actor Prepares, Building a Character and Creating a Role are all must reads for training actors.
His theory of ‘dual perspective’ is an important notion when bringing a character to life and embarking on their journey. It revolves around the idea that on stage you must have a double perspective, and two lines of consciousness while on stage: that of the character, and that of the actor.
The amount of focus you invest in either perspective varies with the actor, Stanislavski says that a 50:50 split is an optimum balance, although this could be argued. The consciousness of the character is knowing your given circumstances, your objectives, your obstacles, actions, targets – or simply put, just being in character.
You can never be 100% in character, your brain will never morph into the character’s brain, this is why we don’t simply walk off the edge of the stage, or freak out over the fact that there is an audience in front of you, and that you’re in a theatre.
Your awareness of being an actor is not a hindrance – use your intellect and plan your journey. By this I don’t suggest getting yourself into a pre-meditated routine – this will rapidly become stale in a long season. However, know your moments.
If you play an emotionally unstable character, don’t break down in the first two minutes of the play – where do you go from here? As an actor and a theatregoer, adopt an outside perspective of your characters journey, and be logical, yet still dynamic in structuring it.