§ Know your script. Read, re-read and then read again, and not just your own lines. From this foundation, you can go on to identify the reason for your lines (subtext and or character motivation). this will help you react with the right lines and make remembering easier.
§ Listen actively. you should give the impression that what your character is hearing is purely of that moment (happening for the very first time). Resist the temptation to be quick with your lines (or cues), just to prove you know them. in real life there are pauses - but make your pauses full of meaning (action/acting).
§ Be brave. the quickest way to improve your acting is to realize that your first choice will usually be the easiest for you to do – not the best one for the part. challenge yourself to do something different - don't get stuck stereotyping yourself by always playing the same type of character.
§ Learn to breathe. practice it. Inhale as deeply as possible and exhale for twice the amount of time you spent inhaling (i.e. inhale 15 seconds exhale 30 seconds). This will help pre-audition stress and stage fright plus improve your lung capacity and ability to speak a long line without running out of air.
§ Be professional. turning up on time, or early, will give you all the warm up time and, more importantly, the space you need to prepare for your performance. also, being professional means doing what you say you will do (bring props or costumes by a certain day) plus doing all of your requirements set by your director on time (OR EVEN EARLY!).
§ avoid bad mouthing your fellow actors, TECHNICIANS, AND DIRECTOR. This is not only good advice because eventually they will find out what you’ve been saying, but also the actors who are quick to insult other actors are the ones who blame others for their own shortcomings. If you always blame others, you will miss out on the opportunity to accurately evaluate your own performances. yOU WILL ALSO EARN A REPUTATION FOR BAD MOUTHING YOUR PEERS AND THEN NO ONE WILL WANT TO WORK WITH YOU.
§ Act! The more you act the better you should get. Practice makes perfect. The more acting you do, the greater the number of actors and directors you will work with WHICH WILL BROADEN YOUR NETWORKING. ANY OPPORTUNITY YOU HAVE TO ACT, YOU SHOULD TAKE AND DO IT TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY - IT MAKES FOR AN IMPRESSIVE RESUME AND ALLOWS YOU TO PRACTICE YOUR CRAFT.
wATCH OTHERS PERFORM. BE OBSERVANT AND CRITICAL - EVALUATE WHAT WAS SUCCESSFUL AND LEARN FROM IT. eVALUATE WHAT WAS NOT SUCCESSFUL, AND LEARN FROM THAT.
§ Improve your acting by making your PEERS look as good as possible. It might sound odd, but getting the best from YOUR PEERS will reflect on your own performance and help you develop. It will also improve your professional reputation which, in turn, should mean you get more work.
§ Finally, be thick skinned. You have to have the courage to stick to your guns when you think you ARE right, even if you consider the criticism harsh, or are getting lots of rejections. Be honest with yourself and be brave. REMEMBER, THE REALITY OF THE BUSINESS IS THAT most actors get rejected for most jobs most of the time -- BUT IF YOU LET REJECTION GET TO YOU AND YOU GIVE UP -- YOU WILL NEVER GET A JOB -- IF YOU KEEP AT IT, YOU CAN!
Step 1 : Building a Character
Watch other people: observe people and how they go about their merry (or not so merry) lives. You’ll soon notice the variety of people and the quirks and mannerisms which really define them. Be sure to see what people do with their eyes and hands as these are very expressive features. Make note of any particular characteristics which strike you, if someone has a particular tick, a jump in their step, repeatative gesture, or a striking facial expression, then take some time to think about what they did and how you might be able to apply their behavior to create your own particular character.
We are always speaking with body language. What do you think about someone who is always stiff and almost mechanical, or someone who slouches and leans constantly? When a person smiles or laughs a certain way, how do you react? Always realize that we are constantly assessing one another, moods, status, reputation, esteem (self confidence), intelligence. People certainly can seem wealthier by standing a certain way, or confident by the way they move through a crowd. How do we know these things? it seems to be part of our collective human culture that we associate certain appearances and actions with traits. A hobo could stand with a posture that makes him seem like a king, and a Harvard Alumnus can have a facial expression which makes him/her seem like a moron.
Keep studying; the more you watch, the more you learn. stand in front of a mirror and practice various poses and expressions and think about how they make you feel and how you would feel seeing someone else doing it.
watch professional actors do their thing. Live theater can a fantastically fun and informative experience. Go see some plays at your local theater or if plays are unavailable, then rent some “classic” movies and just study what the actors/actress do. Don’t plagiarize their techniques, analyze how they use their techniques to come across as a “better” actor, body language, voice inflection, volume, etc. Also, be sure to watch “bad” actors, or people who in your opinion didn’t do a good job; did they somehow break character? Smile or smirk? Look directly into the camera? Try and observe as many examples of both the good the bad to try and assess your personal conception of ways to perform better.
Step 2: C is for communication
Unless you are putting on a one man show and self directing, chances are you’ll be interacting with a bevy of dramatic personae, and believe it or not you’re going to have to play nice. This is the easiest and most rewarding part of any cast. If you’re want to put on a great show, or make a great movie, you have to interact with your fellow crew.
Simply don’t be a jerk - just treat people with respect. Nobody wants to work with an arrogant know-it-all or a timid introvert. You will work with bad people, funny people, good people, and strange people. Getting to know your cast is essential. If you’re cast with your worst enemy, don’t sweat, tolerate him/her and treat him/her respectfully so that you can both reach your goal. If you feel that someone is lagging behind or struggling, offer your help, and you will both learn something from one another and, once again, this will add synergy your performance.
Aside from your fellow thespians, it is also key to communicate effectively with your director. If you’re given strict directions–follow them. If you are given some improvisational slack–make good use of it. The last thing a director would tolerate is a selfish rebel or a robotic servant. Be yourself, but know when to listen and behave accordingly.
Step 3: Lines!
It’s great to read a script, and many are worthy pieces of literature, but when it comes to your own task of getting those precious lines ingrained in your mind, nothing is better than hearing them out loud and learning with other people!
Remember: every line is important! Everything from a “Hmmm?” to the longest of monologues exists for a purpose and is included to move the plot along and develop your character. Playwrights and screenwriters do not just put filler dialogue to add pages to their script. When reading your lines, think about who/what you are speaking to (if anything), your motivation to speak, and the goal of your speech. It is a sign of bad acting to throw away lines by mumbling or by ignoring the motives/tactics/goals of speech because of sheer laziness or ignorance.
One of the greatest and most essential things to recognize when memorizing and rehearsing a script are beats. Beats are shifts in the intention, motivation, etc. and are key to expressing a character as they truly are. Whenever anyone speaks in their daily conversation, they have beats. Beats reflect character goals and actions and can occur several times in a single sentence or may drag on for a page or two. Go through your lines and mark where you think a beat occurs (use a / to indicate a beat) and recognize how this would affect your performance.
Get Feedback:Don’t pester your friends and family, but if you see one of them in no particularly busy state, politely ask if they would run your lines with you. More often than not they will oblige if you ask them kindly enough. The other person will usually get a kick out of seeing you act, and you both will get some laughs (well in my experience nearly everything can be comedic, so your experience may differ), you will strengthen your memorization of your lines, and have the opportunity to vocalize them in several different ways.
If said family and friends are unavailable or you prefer the hermit lifestyle, then a microphone will be your replacement buddy. Buy a cheap usb microphone or tape recorder and record and listen to your recording. This may be a preferable practice choice as the recordings can be stored for later use and will be helpful in memorization or specific vocalization such as accents or inflections, plus the recording device will never get bored or hungry and leave you to play video games.
Step 4: Self-confidence
Some people have it, some don’t. How to get it, and ways not to lose it:
1. Focus on the objective, not the outcome . People are often very self critical of themselves and worry when it is unnecessary. I’ll compare acting to life in general; if you spend all your time worrying or thinking about the future, then you’re wasting your present; in acting if you spend too much time thinking or worrying about what people will think of you then your performance will suffer. The key here is focus; your objective here is to give the best performance you can, first for yourself, then for others, not the other way around.
2. Learn from your mistakes! Its painful and difficult, but that’s life and it can be just as fun and easy as well. I’ve gotten stage fright, we all do sometimes. It’s horrible, it hurts, and you never want that sinking feeling in your stomach again, but we learn from pain. If you ever burnt your hand in a fire or on the stove as a child, then I’m sure you’ve never intentionally done it again. The same goes for acting. You make a mistake. You suffer the immediate embarrassment. Then you move on and avoid repeating those past mistakes as quickly as would you pull your hands from scalding water.
3. never back down and never give up, what I mean is that if your desire to act and give a great performance is greater than your fear of failure then you’re on the right track. If not, get comfortable and get interested– if you are only comfortable acting alone then do so until you can do it in front of someone, then do it in front of a group, then do it in front of a crowd, build yourself up step by step. When it comes to interest, you simply have to be motivated. You can’t persuade yourself to be a better actor the same way you couldn’t persuade a car without fuel to start; it just doesn’t happen. If you lack motivation to dedicate yourself, then it will be a real struggle, if not an impossible feat.
Step 5: Miscellaneous
Be sure to keep hydrated . Keep a large water bottle backstage to keep your body (most obviously your throat, to prevent coughing and thirst), and mind hydrated.
Be sure to keep well rested. This is a basic given, you are simply less likely to give your best performance if you are tired!
Don’t assume that because you have your lines memorized your job as an actor is done. That is only one small step towards performance.
Stay healthy and keep your grades up! If you are sick and miss too many rehearsals, you can lose a part in a show. Same thing if you fail a class.
AVOID EXTREME SPORTS!! It is not worrying, it’s precaution! An injury can not only be fatal to you, but to your performance as well. If you get the part and are in the process of rehearsals, then it would be best to leave that mountain bike on its rack in the garage and your rock climbing gear in its bag. Whatever the potentially bone-breaking adventures you enjoy, put them on hold until your performance is complete. Arm casts and crutches cannot be easily worked into scripts and scenes, and either you may get the boot or the production itself may go under because you “just had to” go deep sea diving with sharks you and lost your pinky toe to Jaws. Don’t risk it.
Step 6: Showtime!
Hold for laughs. If you or one of your fellow thespians cracks a joke or performs a comedic action and the crowd chuckles or erupts into laughter be sure to pause a little until they quiet down; this way your lines don’t get lost in the sea of noise.
On the spot: If you find yourself in a situation where your cast mate or yourself has forgotten a key line it’s time to improv! Perhaps the cheapest but fastest way to get someone else back on track is to add a reassuring line, that is if their missed question line was “What are you doing?!” you might fill in the silence with a quick “Are you interested in what I’m doing?” or if their missed line was a statement such as “Wow, she’s beautiful” then you might fill the void with “Don’t you think she’s beautiful?” and if your partner is really drawing blanks then you might potentially have to skip their lines up to a point where someone else speaks so as to maintain continuity. What you never want to do is try to whisper the line to the person – that is always obvious to the audience that a mistake has happened.
When it comes to your own memory loss, always remember to STAY IN CHARACTER. Breaking character during a performance is theatrical suicide, and you must keep your calm. Stay in character and respond in a way that your character would respond - not the way you would respond to a situation. Hopefully, you will recognize your cue and the lines will come back and all will not be lost. If you are really at a loss, sometimes going back and repeating a line that was just said before the memory loss will be enough to jog your memory and get things going again.
DON’T LOOK AT THE AUDIENCE! Unless it is in the script, never look at the audience. You setting is the only location your character is aware of, you, on the other hand are the only one away of all those people staring at you.
Be quiet backstage! You should be backstage thinking about what your character is doing while not on the stage (prior life) not talking with friends.
Never peek out the stage curtains. It is very unprofessional.
Remember, this is a one shot deal, there are no bloopers allowed during a play and no one yells cut.