Actors Prepare Before They Perform

by Poorva Wachh | July 12th, 2020

1​.​ Understanding the character

​The first thing to do is to understand the character in-depth. To understand and know about the character, actors go through intense research on their character.

  • Internal research – An actor must understand the internal aspects of the character and how the character thinks and behaves and what his/her likes and dislikes and what triggers him/her to do certain things in life and his/her experiences.
  • Personal research – The actor needs to understand the character’s personal needs and wants and learn about his/her personal life and relationships. An actor needs to come up with the idea that makes him/her a distinct person. His/her nature, disposition, temperament.
  • Social research – this is about the character’s economic status, profession or trade, religion, relationship to the world, Occupation, group affiliation, political affiliation, and religious affiliation.
  • Character bio – An actor needs to know about the character to its core. The more you research about the character, the better you will be able to perform. For example, what is the character’s favorite color, How does he/she walk, talk, sleep, think, What does he/she wear, what does he/she think in alone time, and so on? His/her physical stature and figure, physical activity, knowing about his health condition. Etc.
2. Creating a character

The audience must believe in what you’re saying. It is possible only when you believe and live truthfully under imaginary circumstances. So to achieve this, actors need to prepare before a scene.

  • Emotional preparation – You as an actor need to prepare yourself to go through severe conditions by keeping physically and mentally open and vulnerable. Personal experiences – this is to find a common thing between you as an actor and the character. It is good for an actor to draw experiences from their personal life and then apply it to build the character.
  • Substitution/ Imagination/psychological gestures – if you don’t find any personal experience that relates to the character, then you can use substitution to achieve the objective. If substitution fails you can always use beautiful power called Imagination in creating a character.
3. Objective
  • Overall Objective – What does your character want more than anything? What is he/she willing to do in order to achieve the main goal? What is he/she thriving for the most? It is essential to understand where you’re heading in the story as a character. It’s best used when an actor finds the appropriate personal experience that can effectively drive this OBJECTIVE.
  • Scene objective – what does this character want in this particular scene. (Where, why, how, what and when) are you saying this? These are the most important questions you ask yourself before you start a scene.
  • Obstacle/Hurdles –Determining the physical, emotional, and mental hurdles that are coming in your way and making it difficult for your character to achieve his or her overall and scene objective. Obstacles can usually be seen in these three ways.
    • Character vs. character
    • Character vs. nature
    • Character vs. society
  • Strategy/tactics – this is a plan of action designed to achieve a major or overall aim. An actor must formulate specific strategies and tactics to get his/her objective to achieve, but sometimes those tactics fail. That is when you see the conflict in the story, and you, as a character, have to come up with a new tactic.

4. Execution

After all the research and preparation, it’s time for you to let go of your preparation. It means, LET IT GO and trust it’s all there—the foundation of your work. Trust your instincts and natural impulses. Stay aware of your surroundings. Be as curious as possible. Stay in touch with your feelings; they will come in handy later to utilize as a tool for a scene. Increase your listening and allow an organic response. As I always say “There is nothing called acting; you are just living in the moment as the character.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Poorva Wachh

Poorva Wachh is an actor currently in Los Angeles, CA, known for his performance in the feature film The Big Rant (2021) and Peppermint (2019)


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