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Use Yourself Onstage 

In the world, and also very much in SA, we are divided between rich and poor, along colour lines, culturally, linguistically, along class lines, between rural and urban, between literate and illiterate, between educated and uneducated, religiously and spiritually, between genders, sexual identities and sexuality, between the haves and the have-nots, between the ins and the outs and so on. And because of this we sometimes don’t know what to cling to, who to be or how to be ourselves. You need to find out who you are and to make peace with this, or you will never quite know from which angle to tackle a performance and who to offer it up to! 

You are bigger than any film, TV show or play that you are acting in because you actually live a personal reality beyond the stage, microphone and camera that is full and dynamic. And you have a voice that operates in its entirety beyond the stage, microphone or camera that is naturally alive. You need to embrace all this and accept that you in your personal capacity are in fact interesting enough to be watched. (If you were not, there would be no such thing as reality television.) And then you need to make the shift from thinking “I must change into the character” and rather think “Let the character inhabit me”. You need to think or decide on how the character would want to inhabit the constraints of  your physical reality, how the character can use your body, your voice and your emotional landscape to express their thoughts and carry out their actions. Don’t think the other way round, because that journey is a mountain and when you chose to do it the other way round, you often just end up trying looking and sounding disconnected rather than “in character”. You become a failed mimic, an primarily because people are actually incapable of literally transforming! (Meryl Streep aside.) 

© Donald Woodburn

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