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Sunday, 20 May 2012

On Assuming A Character

People have many different approaches in acting, when it comes to taking on a character. Some will look at how other people have done it; some try and remove themselves completely from their own personality; others use past experience to help a develop a character.
While each of these, I believe, may and can be helpful to different people and in particular situations, I am of the opinion that an alternative approach will, in the majority, produce a better result.

The methodology I take is this: look at the character, and their personality, their lifestyle, thoughts and emotions. Then look at your own. And find the common ground. A link. In some situations, it may perhaps be tenuous; in these cases, perhaps you need to look further into yourself or the character - or in fact aren't particularly suited to the character that you are attempting to assume. However, in the vast majority of cases, I believe that a reasonable link can be found, possibly several.
These links can then, in turn, be used to assume the character. If, for example, the link is that both you and the character are proud and strong; emphasise that, pronounce that aspect of your personality more significantly, while downplaying aspects of your personality that are more contrary to the character being assumed.
A point; if this link, though it be part of the character, is not the most significant - or, possibly even quite subtle - do not over-pronounce this aspect. (Unless it is a farce; but these tend to follow some of their own rules.) There is, of course, some creative licence given; but do not be too liberal in your interpretation, or you can miss some of the subtle reasoning in the writing and interplay between characters.

How your character relates to the other characters is just as important as the character's personality; and, of course, is directly affected by it. As such, make sure you first establish your link to the character before looking at how they relate to the other characters.
Your chief reference here is the script. In here are all your interactions with other characters. Go through and look at how you interact with each one separately; just as you interact with people differently, so does your character. Your character's relationships with other characters are just as varied, multi-layered and intricate as your own.
Another important point here: good relations with the other actors are crucial for good relations onstage. Even if your character is the most stuck-up person that hates everyone, that doesn't mean you should be like that backstage. Establish a good relationship with all the actors; know all their names, if you can, though this may be difficult for larger musicals. But if you have a bad relationship backstage, it will show onstage; and not in a good way, even if you're supposed to be angry at each other.

The final important point is to develop the character. Your idea of them at the beginning will likely change to the time of your first performance; and may well change during these performances. The reaction of an audience to what you do can sometimes be surprising; you may not find something funny, because you see and hear it every week - but they may find it hilarious. This doesn't mean that you should change things to elicit further response; you don't want to throw other actors off, either.
Changes to your character are a normal and necessary part of assuming the character. Without any development, your character may well lack subtleties or finer nuances which can be the difference between a good performance and a great one. Development may come from the director, other cast members, further analysis of the script, self-reflection, the presence of an audience, or simply time. Any and all of these are valid and significant ways of developing your character; don't babysit it! Don't be afraid of suggestions by other of changes!

In summation: upon assuming a character, first, establish a common link between you and the character, and use that to drive your portrayal of that character; second, establish the interactions and interplay the character has with other characters, to a realistic level; thirdly, develop your character through feedback, analysis and introspection over the course of rehearsals and performances.

Above all, remember two things: your character is never completely removed from you, and never can be; but neither is your character completely you, and as such wholly indicative of your personality. They both influence the other, but are still different. You are not your character, and your character is not you. Each of you has a bit in the other - hence the link - but are still partially separate.

And enjoy it, most of all. That's what it's about, after all :)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Because I haven't done a post in way too long....

Pre-warning: This has been deemed to be a very long post, well within the TL;DR range. If this puts you off, I don't have a short version. So yeah.

I seem to be falling behind quite a fair bit on this blogging thing as of late. I remember when I started out, I felt like I could put one up every day, almost. Sometimes, I think I nearly did. Had so many things to write about, that I had an opinion on. Then more recently I've had a couple of attempts at organising that, attempting to channel it somewhat. Which kinda worked for a while. But I've run out a little. Haven't done a post since a week back. And I've only got one interview left to do. Think I'll probably do that and go back to being somewhat more sporadic...

Though I have been quite busy lately. Last year of uni. Lots of assignments coming up. I'm composing for a 9 minute section of film, practicing and creating a 20 minute performance, and writing a 1500 word research essay does add up. As well as that, of course, I decided to be part of a play, which chews up time. Then I've got work two nights a week, church, and piano lessons. For which I'm supposed to be practicing an hour a day. (Between you and me - doesn't happen.)

The play finishes up in a week and a half. It's been amazing. Jan's been such a fun character to play. Thought from the beginning I could do an essay on him. Seriously thought about doing it. Might just do a long-ish post at some point, if I get round to it. But he's an intricate enough character that I could do that quite easily, which is one of the reasons I've enjoyed it so much. And it's been great fun meeting some of the other guys in the cast :) Great people, all of them. Made a few friends. Turns out two of them are actually on my campus, but I've managed to not see them before. Figures.

Oh, and I'm also writing a Bible study for the Christian group at uni. On Romans 14/15. Interesting passage, but fairly straightforward, not a lot of discussion points. Which are what I always find interesting. But we'll see, I guess.

Found it interesting being this busy. Not something I'm used to, as such. I more tend to have quite a lot of time on my hands, and do not a lot with it. Well, you know. I play games, tinkle the ivories occassionally (not as much as I should/like), write a song or two (similarly infrequent). Though I haven't been reading as much lately, which I find annoying. I seem to just go to the computer straight away if I have free time. Which is annoying, because I still have books to read. At the moment, I have a dozen books that are as yet unread to work through. I've found, generally, that if it's a story, I'll have no problem. Get right into it, want to read the next bit, et cetera. More non-fiction stuff....I find difficult to get into. It's interesting, certainly. Perhaps I'm just not the reader I once was. I remember being able to read Eragon in a night. Probably still could, if I actually tried. So many books I haven't read for ages...

But yes. Busy. In one sense, I suppose it's my way of distracting myself. Kind of what I do with everything I do, and what I touched on as part of the theatrical element of the performance I'm doing. Because when I'm not distracted, I actually think, and remember, and my brain starts to wander....generally it doesn't do so in directions that are too fantastic.

Though it certainly likes wandering in directions that are fantastical. (Ha! Segue success!) ala this post here, which is fantastic: (Pre-warning: Also deemed to be a long post.) Well. Sorry, should specify. Not saying the post is fantastical. Movies and such, Mister Hollywood. (Wonder if there is one...I'm hearing a song here....) The fantastical land where everyone has a nice happy ending. Or are cut up in to a million tiny pieces to scare our heads off, because some strange people like that sort of thing. :P But yes. I suppose instead of letting my brain wander in fantastical directions, should let it remember some of the more fantastic times I've had....

And there's been some pretty awesome ones. Thailand. Annie Get Your Gun. Oliver!. A Midsummer Night's Dream. OASIS camps. Start of year camps. SWORD. Boot Camp. Zone 3 Lockout. Easterfests. Perth. Black Stump. Bents Basin. Wedderburn. Luigi's. Australia's Got Talent. The Unexpected Guest. And probably lots more that I've forgotten....

But more importantly, the people I enjoyed these times because of.
The Thailand crew - Oscar, always good for a laugh; Kurt, my Canadian cousin; Ivan, who apparently made me a "real man"; Esther, Miss Paparazzi, who switched the cards; Rhearne, who like cake; Alyse, who got called Beri, so we didn't confuse her with; Elyse, one of the more happy/crazy (I find they're mostly interchangeable) people I know; and Jonesy and Carto, who got the wrong sort of +C.
The musical/play crew - Mrs Pavela, both disorganised and fun; Oscar again, who got to wear the fat suit; Puck, who was Puck ('nuff said); Joel, Jooooooeeeeeel!; the other Brendan James, with the hair flick; Alex, who decided to give all the people in the line a hug one rehearsal; and George, who suited his part so perfectly it was ridiculous.
OASIS/other school crew - Mr Davis, who always called me "Brendo-bag"; Steph, whose realisation that we were both Brendan Jameses threw her completely; Jay, always the guitar guy; Aaron, who went round the mountain while I went up it; Sam, who was "Kiwi" to everyone else; Dan, who could figure out some ridiculous maths equation while knocking you to the floor; Shaun, who was and always will be Shaun; James, Captain Lankmeister (or vice-captain, rather :P); and so many other crazy characters.
The SWORD crew - Kurt again, FYI, we have a spy; Anna and Emily, the bubbly twins; Matt, my skater bro; Rosie, who knew I was the spy from square one; Michael, who did a better job than any other man could; Ben, who put up with us, despite his sunburn; and Corey, who...had some rather awkward pushups.
The uni crew - Javen, who always needs a little more djembe, and is very superstitious; Mozart, who always gets asked about his name, and has Samson hair; Mark and Tom, the piano men; Micky, who gives the best hugs; Flick, a drama queen in the best sense of the term; Jessie, who plays impossibly; Aurora, who is constantly knitting - check that - crocheting; Greg, who I refound; Viktoria, who can sing ridiculously high; Josh, who wrote that song; and Kay, who spontaneously came up with Josh's theme song.
The CTG crew - Michael (different one), who's somehow managed to put up with taking a psycho back home every day....; Gabriel, who always had trouble with going into reverse at the time; Caragh, the real star of that scene; Sonja, who plays her part a little too well...; and Guenther, who was crazy enough to cast me for the part.
And the rest, lumping them all in - Damo, who I was always on flying fox with; Andrew, who managed to get the keys out; Giovanni, Giuliano, Fat Tony and Luigi, who were always meant for an Italian restaurant; Luke, who, trying to get me a grilfriend (his idea, not mine), managed to ask two people who were taken; Sam, who can play a ridiculous number of instruments; Paul, always great to harmonise with; Sarah, who managed to (somewhat) organise us, along with those 'fluttering fairies' on the drums; Jesse, the pyro, who lives in what was once Spare Oom; Alan, who I painted a ceiling with, and gave me a chance to shine; Wendy, who gave me another; Ryan, who always believed in me; and another Matt, who seems to be another version of me a few years older that I've managed to find.
And so, so, so many more.

Thank you all, especially those I have forgotten or not listed here, for all the joy that you have brought me.
You've made my life amazing.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Gold rush! & other thoughts...

Yes, I haven't been following my schedule lately. So shoot me. :P I've been getting lazy. And busy. This play starts on Friday. Yeah. Looking forward to it :D

Anyway, thought I'd put a couple of things up. Got together with a friend of mine today that I met through uni (though he doesn't actually go to uni, but he's a friend of the leader of the Christian group). He's a bit of a muso as well - though more of a maker than a player - so that's kind of what we did. And we had a good game of chess, which he beat me at. Neither of us had played it much for a long time.

But we also got talking about Christianity and such. And he was saying some pretty interesting stuff, which I could very much relate to. He was talking about how he wasn't out to convert people. Not to Christianity, not to some denomination, not anything. That wasn't his job. The Holy Spirit does that. He was saying that all he was out to do was tell people that they were living on a gold mine. Figuratively speaking, that is. The gold mine of grace, and love, and mercy that God has on offer for us, and that he wants to give to all of us. Every single one. Some people just don't really get it yet. They just have to accept the gift.

I think I like that. :)

He also showed me the first part of a short movie called Zeitgeist. Have a look on Youtube if you want, it's up there. Just search for part 1. Fair warning, though - if you are a Christian, and you're not so much into all the reasoning and apologetics and such, probably not a video for you, on a couple of levels. If you are, also be warned - it's some pretty heavy stuff.

If you did watch it, my argument against it is below. If you didn't, tis cool, and see you next time on the blog :)

You ever heard of the "Kookaburra (Sits In The Old Gum Tree)" vs "Down Under" debate? The claim that the flute line from Down Under was taken from the previous? It's fairly commonly known. It's also often disputed - people either arguing that it shouldn't matter, or that they could have both hit upon the same idea.
And that happens all the time. You get lots of cases where ideas, inventions, etc that are almost identical are thought up in complete isolation of each other. Just because A is identical to B and came after it, doesn't mean that A copied B. Neither does it mean that we need to look for source C from earlier on that they both copied from.
Of course, when we're talking about a person's life - in the case of Jesus - it does get a bit more complex. But who's to say that God didn't make it so common - the 12 repeated, virgin birth, resurrection, etc, all the stuff they said - so that people of the time would just understand it better? Who's to say it wasn't all just pointing towards Jesus, a shadow of what was to come? Little idea I had, anyway.