Acquiring the Mindset for Theater Acting
Empathy is The Key
On the stage, the most vital skill for any actor or actress is empathy. At it’s most basic, empathy is the ability to sense and accurately judge a person’s mood and emotions. However, empathy taken to a higher level can do much more. For one thing, empathy allows you to accurately imagine the emotions running through your character. By the same token, you can also convey this imagined emotion to a much greater degree by projecting it to the audience. Contrary to what some acting coaches say, when you have to ACT the emotions of your character but never really feel them, the heart of effective character portrayal on stage is that you are able to generate emotion in yourself and convey it to the audience.
You ARE your Character on stage
Another good tip for effective acting is the ability to fully immerse yourself in role-playing your character. Where some stage actors often maintain a certain degree of self on the stage, if you wish to be truly effective you should almost completely forget who you are on stage; while the scene is being enacted, you ARE your character. Don’t just think of the scene itself; during practice, consider the history, mindset, motivations, ambitions, and especially the emotions of your character. Let this shape how you act on the stage.
Project with Everything You Have
A third tip for effective stage acting is the ability to project your character and the scene to the audience with every tool at your disposal. Some people are blessed with excellent voices, or the ability to convey volumes of meaning through facial expressions, or expressive body language. Most actors often only utilize one favored means of projecting their character to an audience. However, to be truly effective you should use every means at your disposal, from the volume and pitch of your voice to every tiny gesture, facial change, and body posture.
Harmonize with Your Team and The Audience
Lastly, any good actor must remember not to be immersed inside him or herself too much. Some actors tend to focus their attention completely inwards – analyzing their own movements, thinking about what lines to say next, or just trying to emote. However, you should also remember that you’re working with fellow people on the stage, AND that you’re acting for the benefit of the people in the audience. Work WITH your fellow actors and actresses, supporting their roles with your own, and always remember that the audience is out there beyond the stage and that you’re essentially telling a tale for their benefit.