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CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

Copyright © 2018 by Nello Bottari

 

(These Main Topic Outlines are a continual work-in-progress; 

actively re-edited and updated for conciseness and accuracy.) 

 

A.  CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT DEFINED

 

1.  The actor’s general process for interpreting and transforming the written words of a script into a consummate onstage portrayal.

2.  The specific application of that process to a given scripted character.

3.   Actor’s Process: internal.

4.   Actor’s Technique: external.

5.   The scripted character’s transformation within the story line.

 

B.  EMOTIONS

 

1.  Emotions are the defining essence of humanity and all characterizations.

2.  Through our human senses, we interface with the world and internal our emotional responses to our life experiences.

3.  A character’s emotions are primarily described by that character’s lines in the script.

 

C.  EMOTIONAL EMPATHY

 

1.  Sympathy is external.

2.  Empathy is internal.

3.  Voluntarily taking on the emotional state of a character in a scene as if you were, in reality, actually in that situation.

 

D.  THE ACTOR’S PROCESS

 

1.  The internal condition.

2.  What you already know, have seen and experienced in your life.

3.   “Internal Cataloging”.

4.   What you learn—the insight you gain—from reading the entire script, but especially your character’s lines.

5.   What you discuss with the Director.

6.   What you learn from further research of the show.

7.   What you gain from actual participation experiences.

8.   What you creatively imagine as your eventual portrayal of the character: “Creative Embellishment”.

9.   The final choices you make for your portrayal, incorporating your blocking, props, costuming, etc.

10.   What you experience during rehearsals and performances that further refines that portrayal.

11.   Ultimately, it is you, portraying someone else, as only you can do. 

 

E.  CHARACTER STUDY QUESTIONS

 

1.   What is already known about your character?

2.   What does the Director say about your character?

3.   What does the script say about your character?

4.   What do your character’s lines say about the character?

5.   What do the other scripted characters say to and about your character?

6.   What is your own perception of your character?

7.   What do other cast members perceive about your character?

8.   What is revealed about your character in rehearsal with the cast?

9.   How is your portrayal refined by your performance before an audience?

 

F.  CHARACTER DECISION

 

1.   The execution and completion of the Actor’s Process.

2.   The Director-approved, final decision for how to portray your character.

3.   The consistent portrayal of that role in every performance.

 

G.  PRIMARY CHARACTER TRAITS

 

1.  Gender.

2.  Age.

3.  Height.

4.  Weight.

5.  Body type.

6.  Facial.

7.  Voice.

8.  Health.

9.  Race.

10.  Ethnicity.

 

H.  CHARACTER HIERARCHY  

 

1.  Leads/Stars.

2.  Main/Major.

3.  Supporting/Minor.

4.  Background/Chorus.

 

I.  CHARACTER DESCRIPTION

 

Within the script, the detailed specification of certain human traits describing a scripted character.

 

J.  SELF-SUBORDINATION

 

1.  The deliberate suppression of self-awareness to portray a scripted character.

2.  The opposite of “stage fright”.

3.  Requires dynamic force of will, focused attention and supreme self-confidence.

4.  Role mastery.

 

K.  INTERPRETIVE IMITATION

 

1.  Observing another actor's interpreted portrayal of a scripted character to comprehend the meaning of the scene and the motivations of the character.

2.  Portraying a scripted character in a scene by mimicking the exact voice, line delivery, facial expressions, gestures and body movement of another actor’s portrayal.

 

L.  EXPERIENTIAL SUBSTITUTION

 

1.  Also known as Method Acting, The Method, The System, Emotional Recall, Sense/Affective Memory.

2.  The ability to recall and internalize past specific emotional experiences while portraying a character with similar emotions in a scene.

3.  You feel it/They feel it.

4.  You believe it/They believe it.

5.  Originated by the great acting teacher: Antonin Stanislavsky; taught and expanded upon by his protégés, contemporaries and students.

 

M.  INTUITIVE ACTING

 

1.  The ability to portray a scripted character utilizing good reading comprehension skills, insightful imagination and a broad spectrum of past acting experiences.

2.  From a brief scanning of a script cutting, the ability to perceive/conceive and creatively extemporize a Character Decision.

3.  You, as the character, as only you can do—suited to your character-type.

4.  Very helpful at auditions; increases the odds of you being cast in a role of your choice.

5.  Full emotional range must be immediately accessible to the intuitive actor.

6.  It is the ultimate goal of all actors to become intuitive actors.