by Park Theatre

Today I'm preparing for the masterclass on Researching Your Character that I'm running this Sunday.  A few days ago I put out a tweet asking for people's experiences of, and views on, research for actors.  There were some great replies ('sex in a carpark', from an actor-turned-director who shall remain nameless, being the most intriguing), but also some resistance.  Some seem to think that research shouldn't be necessary; 'it should all be there in the script,' said one. 

I think some of this mistrust comes from a misconception of research.  The word conjures up images of dusty libraries and dog-eared ring binders, of school projects and college essays.  In the theatre, though, research should be a joy.  For me - as an actor and as a writer - it's involved everything from baking bread to shadowing a human rights photographer; from listening in on a social work hotline to travelling all the way to Turkey.

As artists, we should be endlessly curious.  Quite apart from the detail, authenticity, specificity and confidence it adds to our work, research can be an opportunity to enter into worlds that we would never otherwise have access to.  As a brilliant and wise young writer I once knew (now sadly no longer with us) always used to say: 'Feed your head'.  Feed, in fact, all your senses.  Experiment with different physicalities, voices, psyches.  Venture into different cultures, different eras, different lifestyles.  Be nosey.  You will be richly rewarded.



Image: © Indigo Fish / PhotoXpress

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