In previous blog posts focusing on the actor’s process going into an audition or performance, we discussed the importance of clearly understanding what your character wants in this scene (goals) and whether or not your character actually got what they wanted from the other characters (results).
The reason it’s sooo critical to know these things (and not simply memorize your lines) is that it will help you make the right performance choices and accurately convey the arc of your character’s journey, behaviour, and reactions. Which could make the difference between getting that role or looking for other doors to knock on.
A big part of choosing the right behaviour and responses is knowing how your character is supposed to feel as they are (or aren’t) getting what they want, what emotions you should be tapping into.
Generally speaking, there are four basic human emotions: Mad. Glad. Sad. Afraid.
So ask yourself, how do achieving or not achieving your goal in this scene make your character feel? Be as specific as possible. Does the result make you “happy”? Now dig a little deeper: Are you happy as in “euphoric”? Or perhaps your happy is a little more subdued, as in “content”. The more specific you can get, the more accurate and convincing your responsive performance will likely be.
(Note: Theatre and radio director Marina Calderone has written an excellent book called ACTIONS: The Actors’ Thesaurus, which should be in every actor’s audition bag. Calderone’s book is incredibly helpful when it comes to identifying character emotions, and we will reference it again when we explore tactics in future posts. Check it out!)
Properly identifying the emotions your character would or should be experiencing at each point in a scene will increase your chances of delivering an authentic performance. The choices made by the reader you are working with during your audition may affect the emotional direction of the scene, but you are more likely to stay on track if you go into the audition with a clear sense of your character, their goals, the results, and the emotional state(s) that makes the most sense in the context of what’s happening in the scene.
It is also important to note that there will be times where you achieve your goal but have a negative response. The opposite can also be true: there may be scenarios where you do not achieve your goal, and yet have a positive emotional result. This often happens when our characters has a growth moment or realities don’t match expectations. You didn’t get the job, yet you’re strangely relieved. He said yes to a date, but you suddenly feel reticent. By paying attention to the subtextual and emotional of the scene, your performance is more likely to wow the people who are making casting choices.
One final note: never “play” or force the emotion; allow it to come out authentically. Our book, “The Audition: A Working Actor’s Guide to Working in Acting”, offers a variety of exercises to help you organically connect to all of your emotions and call upon them when needed.
To get your free copy, click here. Meanwhile, wishing you the best as you go out on that next audition. Break a leg!
NEXT POST: The Audition – 6 (Assertions): Knowing Your Character Inside and Out