Audiences Want To See Life
“I can’t cry.” I stated to my high school theatre teacher. “I can’t cry!” I continued to explain to him that I understood my character, I understood why she felt the way she felt, but when I would hit this certain part of the scene it was like there was this door that was locked. No matter what I did, there was nothing I could do to unlock this door. It was extremely frustrating. My teacher told me he thought I was emotionally blocked, and he gave me a few sensory exercises to do at home. These exercises focused on one sense at a time. Focusing on what you smell, then taste, touch, hear and see. I felt myself relaxing. When I was done with the exercises, I recited the lines to myself in my room. I felt completely vulnerable, and when I got to the part that I struggled with, I began to ball. I was releasing emotion and experiencing it. Audiences want to see experience — they don’t want to see an intellectual idea of life. They want to see life.
Audiences want to see experience — they don’t want to see an intellectual idea of life. They want to see life.
There are many different hurdles to expressing your characters emotions, but one aspect can be traces of their childhood. If a child receives negative feedback from family or peers for an outward emotion, what do they repress? If they’re a boy and get called a sissy for crying, or if they’re a girl who is uproarious and assertive and they get told that that’s not feminine, kids begin to shut down aspects of their emotions, and those who go on to become actors might find they can’t get angry, they can’t cry, and they can’t be expressive, because they feel they are going to be humiliated.
My senior year of highschool I read a book called, The Power of The Actor, written by Ivana Chubbuck. This book helped me see that the better you know yourself, the better an actor you’ll be. Chubbuck lists out 12 tools that will help you go deeper into your psyche. “… Your beliefs, your priorities, your fears, what drives your ego, what makes you feel shame and what initiates your pride are you colors, your paints to draw with as an actor,” Chubbuck wrote.
The 12 tools:
6.Beats and Actions
8.Place and Fourth Wall
12.Let It Go
A character that I fell in love with immediately was Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire. As soon as I began reading that play, I wanted to portray her. The thing was, I didn’t understand how to at the time. I didn’t take note of her complexity, and I was too fascinated by the emotion, because at the time I had the young actors mindset that if you could cry on stage, or get so angry your face turns red, that meant you were a good actor. It was with the power of the actor, that helped me discover purpose in the characters emotions. The first tool, Overall Objective, is finding out what your character wants from life more than anything — what they mainly want throughout the script. This tool really helped me find purpose in my characters actions and feelings.
When you take a look at a character who is mentally disturbed as Blanche Dubois is, what it all comes down to is she is trying to find a safe place. What you then start to see is that in every single scene, Blanche, in some way, is trying to find a safe place. It’s her overall objective. Whether she flirting, demanding, begging, toying — whatever the active verb is, she is doing it in order to find a place that’s safe, because she has no money and no place to go.
Acting isn’t suppose to be all in your head, so don’t get caught in that train of thought. These twelve tools are designed to create raw human behavior and to duplicate the natural flow of life. Do the “paper work,” do your research, but don’t forget to take the last tool into account and just let it go.
Klancy Baker is a 20-year-old film student who adores the art of acting and writing scripts. She’s lived all across America and hopes to travel the globe. She would like to thank her mom for never encouraging her to wear shoes when she could walk barefoot.