There you are, you’ve spent months rehearsing a play or scenes for a film. You’ve memorized your lines and created an in-depth character analysis, so you believe you’re ready for the actual performance. While the aforementioned actions do prepare you for the performance, if you don’t have a solid understanding of performance skills then you’ll be “up the creek without a paddle,” as they say.
Developing truthful performance skills comes with experience, in-class exercises and an ability to disconnect from the world while you’re on stage or in front of the camera. Although fine tuning your performance skills is an individualized process, I have gathered several tips cultivated throughout my years of work experience as an actor for the stage, film and TV.
Stage Acting – Establishing Audience Communion
When you’re acting on the stage, the performance skills necessary to create a successful performance are vastly different that working on film and TV productions. Perhaps one of the most obvious reasons is you can’t cut the scene if you make a mistake. Once the curtain rises and you’re on set, you must rely on your training and rehearsals to get you through the scene.
One of the most important performance skills for stage actors is developing communion with the audience. While you are acting with the “fourth wall,” acting on the stage is an intimate experience with hundreds of onlookers. Although they are not directly involved within the production, you must be prepared to pause for laughter and feed off of their energy.
Sometimes when you’re in the heat of the moment, you can get carried away by impulses and alter your tempo-rhythm. This is a common occurrence for stage actors as the energy given off from the audience combined with the nervous energy of being on stage can cause you to give way to your impulses and make last-minute character changes. Never let your control out of your grasp. Rely on your training and the rehearsals, and no matter what, continue on with the performance as it has been rehearsed.
Repeating as if it’s the First Time, Every Time
Actors of all types are expected to perform a scene numerous times. Whether you’re working on a stage production and you’re required to perform an entire play up to several times a day or week, or you’re working on a film or TV set and you must repeat a scene numerous times, you must always perform like it is the first time every time. This is done by focusing your energy on the scene, and never becoming bored with the lines or your portrayal of the character. Pretend you are performing a scene for the very first time, even if you’ve said these lines hundreds of times before.