How do I act 'as if?

QUESTION:

If i don't have experience to draw on for a character, how do I use the 'as if' of Stanislavski? Is there a book where it is discussed?

ANSWER:

If you haven't already done so, check out this information on Stanislavki's acting technique and the "magic if". You'll see that using the magic if is a very simple mental exercise you can do to connect to the plot, conflict, props or in this case, your character.

Let's take the example of a character everyone knows, Hamlet. The actor could ask himself questions like...

"What if this was really happening to me?"
"What would it be like to live in those times?"
"What if I was the son of a king?"
"What if my father had just been killed?"
"What would I think if I saw his ghost?" "Would I believe it?" "Would I think I was going crazy?"
"What if I suspected my mother?"
"How would I feel if my mother remarried shortly after my father's death?"
"Would I ever be sure enough of myself to take action?" "What if I was wrong?" "Would I hesitate because I was scared of being wrong, of being crazy or just scared of taking action?" Etc...

As you can see, the "magic if" is a great way to empathize and start to understand the inner conflict of your character. The more you do it, the more you start understanding your character and the play.

For more information, read Stanislavski's book, An Actor Prepares (all his major works are listed at the end of our Stanislavski acting lesson).

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