Performances are odd things. For me, the audience disappears, and I just hurl myself into the actions and attitude of the character. I have to push Brenna aside and pick up the character. That means doing away with all my physical habits and creating new ones.
A character won't walk like Brenna or talk like Brenna. She won't bite her lip when she's holding back a laugh, or play with a ringlet of hair when she's listening to someone. The character has her own ticks that make her uniquely her.
It's my job as an actress to discover these ticks and take them onto myself - because acting is so much more than reciting lines. Words, even well-rehearsed, emotionally-charged words, do not a character make. If that's all there was to it, the audience wouldn't be in a theater, they would be at home listening to a radio drama. No, acting is becoming a character body and soul. People aren't one-dimensional, and neither are stage portrayals. Characters have history shaping them and pushing them forward as who they are, an essence that has to be captured and demonstrated for the audience.
So when I'm on stage, instead of just walking from point A to point B while saying line 36, my mind is full of "walk like a narcissistic fashionista female, talk like a public school girl, toss your hair, hand on hip, lead with wrist when moving hand, react to the action around you when it's not your line..." etc. Eventually I don't even need that mantra, and the character comes naturally, flowing easily.
There's another element introduced when you play the antagonist. You've got to get the audience to despise you. This is a little weird when you have friends in the audience. Once, I played Satan. I had two girl friends of mine in the audience, and they refused to talk to me afterwards. When I went over to say hi, thanks for coming, their eyes got huge and they mumbled something incoherent, then scuttled away. They talked to me the next time they saw me, but by then they had had sufficient time to disentangle who they knew I was with who I appeared to be onstage.
The performance on Friday was a very similar thing - but I played it better than Satan, I think. (I actually wish I had Satan to do over again...) I nailed just about everything. A few of my best lines were ruined by some sound tech issues, but otherwise all my bits went down perfectly (I did miss one of my improv'd lines, but I don't think I'll count that as screwing up, because it wasn't in the original script. ::angel smile::)
My director was pleased the most by my new walk. I'm sad to say it was rather a repulsive hip-swinging thing that I may never live down... but it did its job -- namely, it banished all semblance of Brenna on the stage. Brenna doesn't walk like that. Brenna wouldn't THINK of walking like that. (Brenna also doesn't wear shirts that are halfway falling off)
The lady who played my mother said this: "There's something disconcerting about someone you love playing a character you are supposed to hate. For that time on stage, you dislike them. But your mind knows that the person is really a loved one. And it's confusing, especially if they're convincing."
I'm afraid I rather disturbed one of my friends, who was sitting in the audience. He later told me that it was strange, because I was so out of my true character and into this new one, and it looked so natural and convincing. This might be one of the best compliments I've ever received about my acting ability.
So I had a successful night.
Funny, that was going to be a recap of the performance night, but it turned into an acting lecture. Ah well.
I'll probably have some pictures of the costume and the cast to post later this month.
Love Bears All Things,