The First Steps To Giving The Character Your Voice

What we are going to do now is to start to incorporate a fictional character into the relaxation and concentration process. One way of doing this is to read some of the words that the character speaks, but only as you, without trying to impose characteristics on them. You should always start with what you can do easily and avoid (at least for now) searching away from yourself, making things more complicated. Reading words from a piece of paper is an easy thing to do if you are just being you and not worrying about playing a part. The work on the character comes later.

Take your piece of paper with the words on it and your Journal, and go to a place where you will be able to work. This place should be somewhere where you could make noise if necessary. Do a physical warm-up if you know one. If you don't, stretching, jogging, or jumping in place are all good things to do to get the blood flowing and the breath connected to the body.

Once your breath is moving freely through your body, sit comfortably and do the Mental Relaxation Exercises. Take your time here. If you have just read the script, the character you have chosen will already be work-„ ing within you, though you might not be consciously aware of it. I have of often heard people say, "You work on it, and it works on you." We generic ally have much more information in ourselves than we need to play the < part, so just try and stay in the present moment and investigate it fully by 5 using the system of the Mental Relaxation. If you stay in the present moment, it will lead to the next moment and the discoveries needed to play the part.

Here are some things that you should be aware of while you sit doing the Mental Relaxation:

• Place all your concentration on your breathing. Allow the thoughts, images, and feelings to flow through your breath freely and easily. Sometimes, the idea of blowing an image up like a balloon or keeping a feeling alive, as if it were a feather afloat in the air, helps to keep the breath connected to the moment.

• If the breath gets caught or you feel yourself spacing out, sigh. Sighing is done by bringing the air high into the chest, then letting it all out at once. It releases tension and uncovers things you didn't know were there. Ask yourself, "When do I sigh in life?" It's often when you have feelings that you can't express. Sighing is often a flag signifying that emotions need to be expressed.

• Don't sit on the breath by allowing it to fall down into the navel area; keep the breath moving in the upper chest. Emotions are most easily expressed and released when the breath is high in the body. Just watch an excited or upset child's breathing or a very angry person's breath pattern, and you will see how the chest moves as if the emotion were riding on it.

• When you feel yourself getting distracted, feel a strong sensation, or can identify an impulse happening anywhere in the body, make a long continuous AHHH sound. The throat should be open, and the sound should waver with the changes that you experience while you are making it. This sound can be soft, or it can be very loud; it depends on the moment.

• Direct your concentration back and forth between the relaxation process, breathing, sighing, and making sounds. ^

After about fifteen or twenty minutes of Mental Relaxation, pick up your ^

piece of paper with your monologue on it, and read the first line. You -g know, I always find that the nice thing about a piece of paper with words 12

on it is that it doesn't change. It is a concrete object that can be moved, ^

carried, crumpled, and thrown; it will still have the same words written on ~

it. You don't have to be worried about destroying it, and you shouldn't be ^

afraid of it. If you have problems saying any of the text, the problems can g be fixed later. Speech and pronunciation are different steps in the process of acting; in fact, they are separate studies all together, studies that have easily accessible answers. The words are simply there; they won't suddenly change or shift like you might. You can worry about memorizing them later. You are the changing force; you are the thing that brings about the metamorphosis of the words into the character. The words only give voice to your changes, and your breath gives them their meaning by the way that you say them.

So please, don't read even the first line with a preordained expression that has no connection with how you really feel in the moment. Just read the words on the page as though they had nothing to do with the script and everything to do with your immediate state. If you have thought too much about the part and how you think it should be played, this will not be an easy thing to do. You have already created a preconceived notion of how you should sound. Your mind has worked too quickly, and you have already made decisions, which will condemn your character to a narrower sphere of existence than is necessary. You have already gotten "stuck in your head."

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