This is Dr. Charles Grimes. I’m speaking on
behalf of Expert Village about analyzing a text and beginning to rehearse your monologue.
Now I’m going to speak about reading the whole play for the character–the character that
you are performing, that you are going to become. The challenge is that you’re going
to replicate someone else’s life. You have to think about all of those things that makes
a person distinct from all the other people in the world, and you have to become that
person briefly on stage for the director. Let me give you a bunch of questions that
you can use and write down the answers as you’re looking at the entire play. Find all
the lines in the play where your character says something about himself or herself. Find
other lines where other characters say things about your character. Be aware of course,
that everyone in life likes to present themselves in a certain way and talk about themselves,
but often, the way they talk about themselves is not who they are. You also want to think
about how your character is physically and psychologically different from other people
in the play. What is our orientation to life? What are they trying to do? What are they
trying to get to? These are questions you would ask of your character. What are the
attitudes about life your character is most likely to have? Do they hate life? Do they
enjoy it? Are they out there to get revenge on other people because they hate other people?
All these psychological mind frames, the mind set as we call it, as what they are to read
the play for. All this comes through what the character does, and what the character
says and what people say about the character. And there are a whole lot of other questions
you can answer as you’re reading the play. What is the sociological profile of your character?
Where does he or she come from? What is their class? Where do they live? How do they get
to work in the morning? You want to think about physical adjustments. How do they walk?
Are they old? Are they young? Are they stooped? You want to think about simply are they married?
Are they divorced? Are they happy in love? Are they a lucky person? Are they an unlucky
person? All the ways that we talk about other people in life, apply that to your character.
Try to figure out what kind of a person they are. And we can end with a few other larger
questions. How does this character treat other people? Are they mean to them? Are they superior?
Do they think wonderfully of themselves? Do they think badly of themselves? Think about
adjectives that you can use to apply to yourself and to your character. Later we’ll talk about
merging those two. What secrets does your character have about himself? What are they
thinking all the time? What are you obsessed with? What are you worried about? Your character
has the same kind of obsessions and secrets. And also, since this is a language based exercise,
think about your character’s relationship to language. How well do they speak? When
they speak, for what purpose do they do so? Are they trying to make friends? Are they
trying to put people down? Do they articulate well? Are they befuddled trying to figure
out what their thoughts are and try to put them into words. These are all choices that
you can think about the character that you find from reading the entire play.
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