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Observing People

People watching is an important part of an actor’s daily life. Observing how different individuals speak, move and interact with others. This will all be useful information to store away and draw from as you are creating your characters.

It’s about taking an interest in people; finding out what makes them tick, what motivates them or doesn’t motivate them. What are their passions, fears, hopes and dreams. Watch them in all types of situations, in the supermarket, in a restaurant, at a party, at a funeral.

We have often heard our student’s remark that they find it difficult to access certain emotions, especially when it’s not part of their own personality. For example if their character is a very angry person and it’s not part of their temperament to normally feel angry.

Firstly we would say congratulations, and secondly we would stress how important it is then to watch and observe others so that you can understand how to play anger.

Watch what happens physically to a person’s body when they are stressed, jealous, hurt or defensive? Do they carry more tension in their body? Listen to how their voice may change, does their tone become louder or softer, does their pitch become lower or higher? And how do they interact with others.

Do they make eye contact or the opposite, and not look at the person.

This is also one of the most enjoyable parts of being an actor. Playing a character that is very different to you may be challenging, but it can also be extremely rewarding and fun.

By Michael Sharmon 6th September 2019

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