Thursday, May 13, 2010

Using the body

In addition to using language and the words of the script, actors have another weapon in their arsenal for creating character - physical action and body language. Some companies really focus on the creation of physical theatre, ranging from commedia dell arte to dance masquerading as theatre. But I refer to the more basic notion of actors using posture, hand gestures, or body position to help tell the story. Of course, holding your body in a certain way and moving in a certain way will instantly create an element of character. Cowboys walk differently than businessmen, and they would both move differently than someone who is 90 years old. But I'm also referring to conveying story through such physical movement.

For example... there are two scenes in 12th Night where I have the exact same exit. Down the steps, across the platform, and then offstage. Both of those exits come out of different scenes with Viola in disguise as a boy. The first scene ends with Viola secretly pining over Orisino, and so I leave the scene in a full-on business manner, striding confidently away until I disappear offstage. The second scene develops the relationship between our characters, and it ends with a semi-awkward moment where maybe my character develops some inappropriate feelings toward this young boy. My exit for that scene is much less measured, much less controlled, and I even take a moment to pause and look back at her/him. It's a physical moment of storytelling that I found in the rehearsal process, showing the relationship as it develops between us. It's a subtle thing, and I don't think the audience would ever notice it consciously. But I hope that they pick up on it and realize what's going on.

1 comment:

JParis said...

Hey Nick. Sorry I'm not commenting on this blog entry. I'm just wondering if you have seen Iron Man 2 yet. I plan to see it tomorrow (Sunday). A friend of mine made his own IM suit and wore it on opening night at the KoP United Artist (IMAX) theater. It was actually quite impressive, and he received an enthusiastic response from the movie-goers. I took photos, of course.