Unexpected Learning

In the course of their careers, actors get to experience a wonderfully eclectic range of characters and human behaviors.  We investigate the way people think and act, and have the often-daunting task of giving life to a character who seems light years away from our own understanding and experience of life.

There are also character-related skills that need to be learned. Over the years and, apart from the obvious ones like lines-learning techniques, dialect acquisition or physical adjustments to suggest hurt, illness or infirmity, I’ve mastered/bluffed my way through quite a few that would not normally form part of my own pretty mundane lifestyle: filling a hypodermic syringe and giving a realistic looking injection, loading and firing a hand gun and a rifle, operating puppets (great fun), falling backwards (without breaking anything), eating and drinking while delivering dialogue (every sip, chew and swallow is choreographed), wielding a broadsword (without hurting anyone), making a bed with ‘hospital corners,’ (I still don’t see why), ripping out someone’s eyes and stamping on them without gagging (just kidding – they were grapes) and, my least favourite, working with a green screen – I like ‘real things’ in my performance world.

The latest? Coming to terms with the pronunciation of Italian and its delivery in operatic arias. Grown-ups dressing up and playing – there’s nothing quite like it.


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