Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Introverts Can Be Actors Too

Acting involves taking on the role of someone else, someone who may come from a different country, culture, time period, or background than your own. A kind person can play an evil character. A smart person can play a foolish character. Yet for some reason, people just can't imagine an introvert playing a more outgoing character, or sometimes any character at all. For this reason, some college student directors think they should take your real personality into account when deciding who to cast.  I've filled out many audition forms that asked irrelevant questions to show how extroverted, funny, creative, or charismatic you are, but none of those things have anything to do with acting.  If you're playing a character who is the comic relief, the director should see whether you can perform the role in a way that will make people laugh.  Whether you have a joke of your own or can make up a funny story on the spot has no relevance unless you are auditioning for an improvisation group.

Upon entering college, I had been in more than 20 stage productions, and out of these, there was only one time that I performed as my real self, without acting (in a talent show). Most of the time you are acting when you're singing or dancing, even it's not part of a musical.  There was one particular group at my college that performed songs from different musicals, including some parodies about our school. In the breaks between songs, students would come out and have funny conversations and routines, addressing each other by their real names. But these pieces were scripted, so there was absolutely no reason why those students had to be funny and charismatic in real life. Yet being that kind of person was basically a requirement for getting into the group.

It's okay to be yourself onstage, but it shouldn't be a requirement.  Being talented in singing, dancing, or acting involves expressing attitudes, emotions, and personalities that are not your own. Who you are in real life should not matter.

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