Having previously looked line-learning and audition preparation I reckon it’s time for some character acquisition tips.
What I expect you expect to read hereafter is some sort of comparative analysis between Meisner and Stanislavski with perhaps a smidgen of Michael Chekhov thrown into the melting pot.
However those who have acted with me previously will be unsurprised that my primary acting method is connected to footwear.
Tis the shoe that maketh the (wo) man.
In the great tradition of Dame Edith Evans, I believe that character grows from the feet upwards. Posture, mode of walking and general demeanour start with the feet. Even when playing a sedentary character, you will want to “ground” your character.
I have a love-hate relationship with shoes. The prettier the shoe the more it will hurt. I have difficult feet. At home I prefer to be bare-foot.
In “Kafka’s Dick” my Linda wore F.U. black and red stilettos. I tottered seductively:
the pain in my toes only adding to Linda’s ditziness. They were a size too small. I still have them. Twenty years later they have stretched sufficiently technically to fit me. Practically, they still hurt, but only when I walk.
Last July I wore my oh-so-comfy-love-’em-lots character shoes as Granny Hetty which allowed her to shuffle around the stage in the mumbling way elderly people are wont to do.
Hetty’s feet didn’t hurt; it was just her mind that was askew.
As soon as I have been allocated my shoes (usually from my own collection because I never throw away any possible useful costume items) I will wear them for all rehearsals Changing into her shoes means that Carrie leaves and someone like G. B. Shaw’s Mrs Tarleton say, can take over; can begin to come to life.
Oh dear, this post has become a bit arty-farty serious so let’s lower the tone with a bit of fibbing.
Costume designers are perfectly nice people in real life with good table manners’n’all and should never be crossed or insulted ,so there’s no way I will make any vitriolic comments about them; I know who wields the power to un-enhance my performance.
What I will say is, for a period drama especially, never claim to be a size smaller. The purist (sadist if you like) wardrobe mistress will gleefully present you with a corset and corsets hurt. Actors need to be able to breathe but, for some unfathomable reason, costume designers don’t like actors to breathe; I guess comatose actors are less trouble.
(Another tip regarding the dreaded corset – especially when playing in a non-airconditioned theatre in the height of summer or under the heat of intense studio lights on a film set – is to accidentally forget to put the damn thing on. Ten to one no one will notice, but I didn’t say that, have never done it, would not be so anarchistic and anyway I was just a background artist in “Berkeley Square” filmed in the heatwave of 1998).
ps Am trying to get the hang of inserting pictures but formatting eludes me.