SO... YOU ARE GOING TO PLAY A ROMAN
"Notes for the Classical Actor"
Hooray!! You have an audition to play the Emperor’s daughter or a Roman Centurion. It’s exciting. It will be a big shoot. Huge sets, great costumes and a chance to play a ‘character’ – Whoopeeeeeee!!!!!
There’s a very exciting challenge here. It’s Roman times. Maybe hundreds of years BC? You HAVE to create a character for those times? It’s hard to imagine what it might have been like then. There are a few movies we’ve seen that could be a guide. Images of columns, couches and grapes spring to mind.
It is plain you have to be different. You can tell that from the dialogue. This character talks funny. The writer has made a special effort to write in “classical speak”. You don’t use those words in every day life. It is plainly and importantly different.
How to created this CHARACTER for these TIMES??? That’s the challenge.
Have a look at this Rehearsal Room video-tip (click here…) and THINK about it for a moment.
WHAT ARE THEY REALLY LIKE??
What does our common sense tell us about this character?
The genetic difference between you and your character is non-existent. You are the same. Your brain size is the same. You'll be the same height. They WILL get hungry like you. They’ll get thirsty too. They’ll have the same hormones as you. The same sex drive, the same desire for safety and comfort as you. They exist in a political and social system that is slightly different (possibly less corrupt - do some research ) but much the same as yours. If they are your age (and they will be) they have had the same amount of time as you to work out how they fit into their world – just like you. Their understanding of themselves will be same as yours.
What’s the difference? She doesn’t ‘tweet’. He doesn’t email. Neither of them have a Facebook page. The difference is the technology. They use the technology that’s available to them with all the skill and understanding that you do. The technology IS all that is different.
OTHER THAN THAT IT’S THE SAME. This character IS YOU!!!!!
So, why is it, that when YOU first run the scene you talk funny? It’s probably a bit flat and pompous. You try to sound important or historic. You try to embody differences that in fact DO NOT EXIST. So, that approach is never going to work.
DEALING WITH THE WRITING
Sure the writer has structured sentences in a way that has a slightly different approach to contemporary language!! Why did the writer do that? I don’t know!! Maybe someone did some research and discovered that writers of that time structured their sentences differently. Perhaps somewhere around the birth of the ‘talkies’ one writer decided that historical roman characters talked that way and writer’s since that time have followed suit. There could be any number of explanations.
The significant thing for the actor is that the writer has already created that sentence structure. All the actor has to do is say the words and it will be different. It already is. The actor doesn’t have to embody the speech. The nature of the words makes the speech what it is. That job is done. Please, don’t add further unnecessary complications.
There is ONE important question to be asked.
Why is the character saying this slightly over-written line? The answer is very simple. They are saying it because they have a conversation goal and they are focused on achieving that outcome if they possibly can. That’s what you do anytime you have a conversation. Get on with doing the line in the way you would do it yourself if you were in these circumstances and you will be fine. You’ll be fine BECAUSE the character is YOU.
ALL THE OTHER STUFF IS BULLSHIT!
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