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‘Introduction to Actor Training’ – week 4

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If I am playing Oedipus, I’ve never killed my father nor had sex with my mother, so do I need to do that to be truthful in the scene? Probably not.”

This week, we focused on the outside in method of creating a character. Our first task was certainly illusive. Choose a random object in the room which can be placed on a table – a reasonably simple task. My Object? A glue stick. We had nine objects and were required to lose four. It was extremely interesting how we began to infer meaning to objects with no original relationship with each other. A mystery we would come back to later.

Objects remained the focus of the next task only this time it was an object that was important, on a personal level to us as individuals. We were posed several questions relating to the object

-What do you see when you look at your object, do you see people, places, or colours.
-How do you feel about it? Your relationship with object, what memories does it give you, Is the object soft or hard?
-Different parts, touching it how that make you feel?
-What’s the story behind object.

The objects were varied but all equally as interesting and personal;

Rowan – Necklace
Chris – Headphones
Sanjay – Hindu Coin
Michael – Car Keys
Pete – Wristband
Suzanne – Ring
Pille – Purse
Alison – Watch
Kirsty – iPod

We shared that personal information with the group. But the information wasn’t coming from the object, it was coming from our experience with the object. It is very interesting how much memory and emotion we can draw from a singular object. How much that object defines who we are as people. We made the story real and honest. But how do we do find that truth in characters that have the same memories and experience that we don’t share? If I am playing Oedipus I’ve never killed my father nor had sex with my mother, so do I need to do that to be truthful in the scene? Probably not.


We got to do something that worried some members of the group – go out, into the real streets (of Glasgow) and observe an individual, discreetly. Taking note of his outer tempo, his carriage, his interactions with others, his actions, everything we can absorb through a small period of time.

After lunch we did a stretching exercise (picking potatoes and apples). I found this irritatingly difficult to maintain co-ordination but the exercise certainly stretched the muscles.

Next, we sat on chairs across the room and began to embody those individuals that we had been following. We became them physically, created the same rhythm and tempo. Without knowing that individual or their circumstances we can begin to draw emotion, feeling and history from these things demonstrated in a coffee shop and hospital scenario. Then came our mystery items once more, as the character we had became, we (instinctively) decided what the story was behind them for me as an individual.

I learned this technique can be fallible in creating a character and can only go so far, but it can help when exploring archetypes.

This demonstrated the outside in approach and it was the inside out approach’s turn for some exploration. We were presented a number of questions relating to our character;

Who are you? Name
Where are you? Town etc
Greatest want in world?
Greatest fear?
What doing?
Most important being?

Through this, we created a fairly extensive background on the character and created a window into how that character acts. Acting is about doing and it’s important to identify what works for you using these techniques and finding a balance. The ultimate goal is to find truth within the character. The audience may never know much of this information, but if I know it, the character will be more honest.

Further Reading: Philip Ridley

Interesting in Studying acting? Already studying? Enjoying a totally alien subject? Comment below.