Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Character Development

We're on break now, but when we come back, my collaborative project with my theater colleague will get even more interesting for me.

First, the design folks will be coming in to show the set and costume design plans. I've seen just a little bit of design stuff, so I'm really looking forward to seeing more fully how the project moves from design concepts to built sets and costumes.

And we'll be working with the student actors on developing their characters. That, too, is totally new to me. I have to admit, I think of dramatic characters as being created in the moment of the staging. But my sense is that the theater people ask our acting students to think about their characters as having a sort of pre-existence, as having more than just the text.

I'm conflicted about that, and my conflict has to do with the ways I conceive of characterization in drama, and of ways of acting. I resist students asking about characters' lives off stage. I'm of an academic generation that doesn't think much of the romantic and Victorian interest in Ophelia's childhood. But that seems to be how many actors learn to work, and I'm interested in learning their angle, their take.

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