Understanding the relationships of your role is vital, and I don’t mean just to the other people in the scene. What is your character’s relationship to any objects, places and events?
You need to know these things in detail. Turn detective and go through that script with a fine toothed comb picking up all of the clues to make your decisions, and anything that is not given to you by the script- use your imagination and make it up!
Not sure why this is important?
Here are 4 quick ways to help you understand.
- It’s on the floor and you pick it up to put it away. Done? Now imagine that scenario again but the teddy bear was one your mum gave you when you were a child, the last time you saw her before a car crash took her life. Do you see how everything about how you handle that same bear and the feelings around it has now changed?
- Now, next time you are at home relaxing on your own, pay attention to how you sit, how you feel and what you do. Then, the next time you are at Aunt Brenda’s house notice these things again and you’ll find that there are differences- even if Aunt Brenda isn’t there at the time.
- Knowing the relationship you have with any other character’s mentioned in the scene or that relate to what’s happening in any way, is just as important as the one between you and the person you are talking to.
Imagine you are talking to your best friend about someone you know in real life who you have no real history with. Let’s call him Dave, because we all know a Dave.
Your best friend is telling you about Dave’s new girlfriend who is stunning and he’s just been promoted and they are so lucky because they’re going on a 3 month holiday to Australia next year.
‘Wow’ you might think ‘good old Dave, well done!’
Now imagine that exact same conversation but Dave is your ex who treated you really badly, destroyed your confidence and who you suspected of cheating on you with somebody who matches his new girlfriend’s description.
Do you see how your feelings and reactions would change? Even if outwardly you still say the same things, the underlying thought would be completely different.
- Pay attention to how you act around different people. Note the differences in your feelings and behaviors around one friend to another, a teacher, a doctor, a parent, a homeless person on the street begging for change and the neighbors 5 year old kid.
Hopefully, by now you’ll really understand why knowing exactly your relationship is is so important. It’s just not enough to know he’s your brother/dad/best friend’s dog- you need to know the backstory between you, how they make you feel and why.
If it’s the first time you’ve met, that’s fine too. What are your first impressions? Had you ever heard anything about this person before?
You can’t go too much in depth with this. Use your amazing creativity to really bring that character to life!
Eirian Cohen is the founder of Northern Star Acting and co-producer of ESG Media, LTD. (If you want to really develop your craft, we are holding auditions now for our acting for film and television courses in Leeds and Sherburn in Elmet)