Opinion Paper on Acting: Characterization

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For an acting class assignment, we have to write an opinion paper for each chapter of the book, Acting: The First Six Lessons by Richard Boleslawski. These are my thoughts after reading the chapter.

Acting: Characterization

“When a shoemaker has done his pair of boots, it is over, he forgets about them. When an artist finishes a piece of work, it is not done. It is just another step. All the steps dovetail one into the other.”

I once watched a documentary about a Japanese eldery pianist who held a sold out concert over a weekend. The audience and critics were impressed beyond their imagination. The interviewer asked the pianist what will he do next after his successful concert. He replied, “continue to practice.” He woke up on Monday, and went to his piano and did just that. It is true that as an artist there is no end to the journey of discovering our art.

After publishing three books, hitting three million views on YouTube and embarking on my journey to film a short film based on The Scarlet Queen YouTube, I still don’t see an end to my craft. In fact, after conclusion of the short film, I will start writing my next trilogy and continue to make more videos on YouTube. I had considered quitting and finishing up my artistic work like a shoemaker.  But everytime I quit, I find my life dull and drained of colours.

When I stop producing art, the clock ticks slowly and my world is in monochrome. My body wants to dance, my mind wants to tell stories and my soul wants to breathe. I cannot hold it back, for it only creeps into my dreams and haunts me in every waking moment, trailing me like a shadow. The taxi driver asks if I am an actress which I would hastily reply no, to avoid any intrusion to my privacy. My friends would ask if I had been dancing, and if they can watch me dance, and I will hide in a corner and avoid humans. I disintegrate, bit by bit, I would withdraw from the world. My dreams become nightmares, and shadows become monsters.

I would instead, fill my life with distractions by acquiring more wealth and material assets. Each day, I would sell a thread of my soul to the devil to make ends meet. I would slowly, but surely lose my zest and joy for life. My happiness, into aggression. My hopes, into vile destructive thoughts. My nature, would become corrupt and selfish. Till, I am one of the many walking hollow shells climbing the corporate ladder at the expense of everything else.

I will eventually forget about the work I had created and they will no longer have life. They are dead, like shoes. Once used, will be thrown out. But art? It is immortal, to be enjoyed, appreciated, to be awed at, to give peace and joy to the viewers that could last for an eternity after my years have ended on earth. That is why I create, and chose to dedicate my life to my artistry. This is a concious choice I had made four years ago to become a professional artist. Since then, I have received countless of fan mails and recognition for my work that is beyond my own belief.

“That before you put on your dress and make up, you must master your characterization.”

It is true that characterisation work requires observation and study from different sources. When I created Risque, she was a mystery figure that lurked in the darkest recesses of my mind. I would watch her enact these crazy stuff on others that I would never ever, ever, beyond my wildest drunken state, would ever do. What she does on YouTube still continues to astound me. I would ask myself, “is that me?”

At first I rejected her, and think she was this suppressed side of my personality that I would eradicate. I would never let anyone see it. I should lock her up in a place so no one would ever know she resided in me. Then slowly, I started to accept her. That she was brilliant. She was crazy, domineering and alpha. That she probably is what every woman wants to be, but never have the guts to be for the fear of societial judgemental eyes.

Upon more studies, I realised Risque is the counter mask to my usual persona that I have. Which by default, I am a naturally happy and cheerful person who is rather simple. A good cup of coffee makes my day. A little dancing here and there makes me upbeat about life. A walk through nature and reservoirs restores the peace and tranquility in my heart. Where else, for Risque, she is rather complicated. She has messed up desires, that require minions. She is not easily satisfied, but extremely confident. She has this aura about her that makes her presence known when she enters the room.

It has been five years since I created Risque, and five years on, I am still learning new things about her.

I think that every one of us have a mask and counter mask that we portay and enact in our daily lives, and my artistic experimentation on my dual roles is barely scratching the surface of human psychology.

“The actor creates the whole length of a human souls life on the stage every time he creates a part.”

When I am on set, I am much more focused than I am off set. This level of concentration is for the duration of the take, it could last two to four hours per session. In fact, for a whole week after coming back from a holiday trip I had gastric pain, but I ignored my bodily state and focused on completing my work to the extent that I saw the doctor after seven days. The doctor was appalled, and asked why did I take so long to see her, I should have seek for medical treatment within two days of suffering from this ailment.

I lost track of time I believe. That in the pursuit and intense focus of my work, I ignored everything else including my own physical discomfort. I think that a level of professionalism of an artist is required to bring their focus onto stage to create a part, which is the “whole length of a human souls life” in that brief moment.

“The most powerful weapon of an author is his mind. The quality of it, the speed, alertness, depth, brilliancy…. all you have to do is to grasp the characterization of the author’s mind and follow it as an actor.”

When I acted in plays in the past, I couldn’t grasp this part on capturing the author’s mind and following it as an actor. I had my own directions, own compass to follow. I subseqently decided for myself that casting is not for me, I am more suited to be a producer or screenwriter more so than an actor. The only exemption would be if I write my own script, I can follow my own mind.

I have to admit I am a bad follow, even in partner dancing, I tend to outshine my lead. I have my own sequences when it comes to dance cherography, and it may not sync with the person who is dancing with me. Similarly, in a production, I am unable to comprehend why the author made certain choices, and I think I could do better. This conflict within me turned me away from theater for many years, before I came to my own self conclusion that I have to produce the play that I want to act in. That, resolved my conflict and I started my own production, The Scarlet Queen as a direct result of this.

By acting in my own script, I could control and understand my characters in ways that an external author could never comprehend. My characters can grow in organic ways, that is not limited or constrained by script. It is improvisation, taking in feedback, reacting to users comments, in front of a live audience, that is divided between two screens. I believe that my artistic work playing dual roles is a new artform in the making.

“The wise author does everything to make this part of creation in the theatre as harmonious as possible without ruining the idea and purpose of the play.”

Truly that’s why I chose to be an author, actress and producer. The new triple threat of today (https://www.backstage.com/advice-for-actors/backstage-experts/be-new-triple-threat-actorwriterproducer/).

 


AVERRAL writes under pen name Scarlet Risqué. She stars in Scarlet Queen YouTube with over a million views. She holds a degree in business. The RED HOURGLASS is ranked Top 50 Espionage Thriller on Amazon. She is currently writing the sequels to the Hourglass Series. Grab a free copy of her novel now RED HOURGLASS on Amazon

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