“Everything must be real in the imaginary life of an actor….A capacity to transform himself, body and soul, is the prime requirement for an actor."
Constantin Stanislavski 1863-1938
Actor, Director, Educator
An actor is an instrument through which a character is played.
Without the actor, words would lie motionless on the page. A solitary reader would study
the ideas silently, from a book. But, an actor breathes life into the written word.
Truly great actors wear their characters like a second skin. They transform. To create a
believable character, an actor immerses himself in an imagined life. How do they do it?
Vocal Changes Physical Changes
Placement Movement affected by Center
Pitch Gestures, Nervous Ticks
Diction/Vowel Usage/Articulation Tempo/Pace
Projection Facial Expressions
Rhythm Gait (Your walk )
(Sing-Songy, Legato, Staccato, Stuttered)
**An actor's center is the point on the body from which movement originates. If you were to imagine that the actor you are watching is being pulled across the stage/screen by a rope, where would that rope be connected? That is their center.
For instance, most often a pregnant woman's stomache leads her movement (Homer Simpson too!) A prostitute's center? Her hips. A proud soldier? His chest. A really inquisitive snoopy person? Her nose.
Choose a part of your body to use as a center and spend 5 minutes walking allowing that center to lead the way. How does it affect how you feel? Your energy? Your pace? Does the rest of your body move differently? How do you look at the world around you?
After walking with the center you chose, speak. Say anything that comes to mind, or recite a monologue. How is your voice affected?
Repeat this exercise. Lead with your hands, chest, hip, nose, head as your center. How are the characters you create through this exercise different?
“In order to be emotionally involved in the imaginary world which the actor builds on the basis of the play,
in order to be caught up in the action of the stage,
he (the actor) must believe in it." Stanislavski
As a teacher, I have been using this exercise for almost 20 years. I am pleased to share it online with students I may never have in a classroom.
You will learn a lot by watching good actors at work. In this exercise on Character Development, we will study how an actor goes about physical and vocal transformations to "become" the character.
Studying these physical and vocal choices allows you to scratch the surface of learning about character development. You'll need to dig under that layer to learn how to bring truth to the character by integrating the physical/vocal details with the character's inner life.
Every moment of a person’s life influences who that person is. This is true for both you and your character. The actor must study the psychological and sociological history of the character (in relationship to the script’s story) to develop a believable character.
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT EXERCISE: PHYSICAL & VOCAL CHOICES
Choose an actor from the list below to study. Each actor link will lead you to a page with examples of that actor's work.