Acting: Creating a Believable Character

“Flair, comic timing, and a way with accents are all well and good but they aren’t acting. Acting is being in character.” – Laurence Cook,

Have you ever walked out after a play focusing on that one actor that stole the show? Although all the actors may have been good, that one actor is the one you will remember. Why is that? What is it that makes some actors outstanding and others not worth noticing? Often it is because the great ones are character builders.

Creating a believable character is a must to draw the audience into a story. So how do you do that?

Three Ways to Create a Believable Character:

  • The Three W’s
    Answering the questions, “Who am I?” “Where am I?” and “What is my purpose?” helps actors to begin to understand their character. Go through the script and get as much information as you can from it, such as how your character is interacting with others and what other characters say about you. Then proceed to build a backstory from that. If the answers you are looking for are not in the script, create answers that you feel are reasonable for the character. So, the intention of all your background work should be to allow you to behave naturally as your character.
  • Intentions
    Your character would not be in the story if they did not have purpose. So the difference between just standing onstage and being an active character is in your ability to define your story. For instance, why is my character in this story? What are my characters wants? What problems are they facing? How are they overcoming them? Look for the obvious as well as not-so-obvious answers.
  • Physicality
    To pull it all together, consider the physical aspects of your character. How do they look and sound? What is happening around them to cause this? Consider varying aspects of your character’s voice, making use of volume, speed, and quality.

Acting is storytelling through the embodiment of a character or as Laurence Cook says, “imaginative engagement for the entertainment of others.” Therefore, telling the story by creating a character you can enjoy as you step on and off the stage is a great way to strengthen your abilities.

That’s why Expression City Performing Arts Academy students are taking Character Development class this quarter. Does your student want to become the best actor possible? Check out our Performing Arts Academy to learn more!