Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In Between Phases: An Actor On Stage

5:57 PM

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“All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” 
― William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Acting is just like any other profession, though perhaps stage acting tends to pay peanuts. It’s different for everyone. Not everyone experiences the same phases in their career. Though I don’t claim to be a professional actor, seeing as I've never gotten a paycheck for it, years of experience and observation have allowed me to notice different so-called phases in acting. I can’t tell you every phase there is, for I’m pretty sure I haven’t experience even a fourth of the whole thing, but I can share the phases I’ve experienced.

Of course, you may think that it all starts with the big break right? No. An actor begins even before they are discovered. The first phase is when you decide you want to be an actor in the first place.
Again, I’m not a professional actor. Acting has been something that served as an outlet for me. During what I call the “dark ages” of my youth, I wanted to find a way to escape myself, and the theater gave me the option to do just that.

You see, another thing about acting is that you are given a chance to escape yourself even for a little while. You take on this new persona, a different character with a different life. Some successful actors might say that this idea is what draws them to the craft and to continue it. Of course, fame and fortune are thrown in somewhere along the lines. I found that there is something quite magical to the idea of leaving your reality and adapting someone else’s.

Choosing the acting technique that works for you is another thing.

There are a lot of different acting techniques professional actors employ; classical acting and method acting are just some of the few. But it all boils down to one thing. Putting on a mask. Out there on stage or on screen, an actor portrays a character.

You see it’s been 9 years since I was first introduced to the wonderful world of thespians. It started as a simple skit for a science fair contest back in the fourth grade. I didn’t know a thing about acting techniques; I just spoke my lines and exaggerated my facial expressions. Later on I realized that there is more to acting than that. Wearing a character mask is not like wearing a physical mask.
I’m going to let you in my mask-constructing process.

The process starts when you receive your role. From there you have to create a persona, keeping in mind the identity, the realities, and the beliefs of your character. Once you deemed the characterization of the mask complete, you put it on.

Wardrobe and make-up will only get you so far. Putting on the mask entails adapting all that comes with it, moving the way your character does around the environment provided, speaking the way they do.

It’s all about practice, hours and hours of grueling practice. One cannot simply afford to make the character deader than the Dead Sea.

But at the end of the day, you must remember that though you put on a mask to portray a character, you mustn’t be completely gone from the picture. Your own personality is what makes the mask unique.

So, you’ve started acting and you’ve developed the acting technique that works for you – now what? The next phase is when you decide where you go from where you are.

It’s all up to you to do whatever you want to do with your life. You could take a chance on Broadway or enroll in workshops. Anything it takes to keep the passion alive.

Me? I went the path of workshops.

After my little stint in the fourth grade, I never got my “big break,” but I decided to take an acting class. Unfortunately, I stopped for two years because I wasn’t confident enough. But the stage is my passion and during my second year of high school, someone recognized that passion. It was a simple school production but it got me back on track and allowed me to sign up for my school’s Theater Club. By the time I graduated, I was the president of the club.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In my third year, I took a leap and enrolled myself in the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ annual musical workshop. Musical…me? Singing does not agree with me, and neither does dancing, for that matter. But I wanted to develop my acting skills so I persevered. That summer was one of the best and most unforgettable experiences of my life.

So whether you decide to go my route or act somewhere else, keep on trying because you wouldn’t find your big break just sitting at home watching television.

Some who find themselves at a loss on what to do next, I recommend you shift to film. There are a lot of stage actors who’ve gone over to film. Some of the famous ones are Meryl Streep, Julie Andrews, and Lea Michele.

Of course, acting for the screen throws the whole idea out the window. Stage acting is a different world from film.

For one, although practice is important, I find that there is less pressure to portray the character continuously, as films usually shoot by scene. However that also proves to be another challenge, as film is rarely shot in a chronological order, which adds extra work for the actor to recall the stages of development their character undergoes per scene as the film progresses.

If you ask me, though I usually prefer acting for films, acting on stage is a very gratifying experience. Just standing there performing for all you’re worth with little separating you from your audience, knowing that weeks and weeks of preparation went to make this moment perfect, is an experience I will never ever forget.

And the last phase, you ask me? I don't even know. Perhaps the last phase is when the actor dies or stops acting. But I believe that you can never really stop acting. Sure, you can stop performing but you can never remove the passion from an actor.

Me? I still act nowadays, mostly for film; I’m still exposed to the acting experience, though I’m setting my sights on directing now. It is one of the benefits of having a course related to it. I believe that even after nine years, my acting experience would still be a bit shallow. Acting is a world in itself.

I’m still waiting for my big break, it might happen tomorrow or in 50 years – it might not even happen in my lifetime. Though I find myself in between phases, no matter what happens, the show must go on.

Article by Kristine
Photo by Adela
Kristine is a frustrated actor/ writer/ director who is struggling to remain sane in the crazy pulchritude that is life, with a few existential crisis thrown in for good measure. A Communication Arts student at school, a weirdo at home, and all the time lost in another fictional world.
Adela was born and raised in the Philippines, but left home at fifteen to study at a boarding school. She is mostly based out of Boston, where she is currently majoring in architecture studies. She loves the Boston Red Sox, anything design-related, and she believes a font choice can tell a lot about a person (looking at you, Comic Sans MS user). You can check out her photography at http://adelalocsin.com or follow her on twitter or instagram at @adelerz.


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