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The Essentials

Top tips from our Spotlight Prize finalists about preparing for performing on stage or on camera.

As part of the Spotlight Prize, graduate performers are asked to perform a monologue of their choice in front of the camera before performing a second piece on stage in front of an audience of industry professionals.

We asked them what they did differently to prepare for each of their performances. Here’s what they had to say:

Tips for Preparing for a Screen Performance

  1. Do your prep work. Crystallise the decisions you’ve made about the text, and your intentions in and out of scenes.
  2. Make audio recordings of your practice and map out your eye lines. It’s similar to practising self-taping, and just as useful.
  3. Connect to your inner. In film, a lot of your performance needs to happen through the eyes. Connect to what’s happening on the inside and how you portray this through your eyes.
  4. The thought is enough. You don’t have to do anything more than think about something because if you’re thinking it, your audience will be able to see it as the camera is so intentionally close.
  5. Working in front of the camera is intimate so you might not necessarily have to show more. Within that ‘lack’ of showing there’s a lot more that can be seen.
  6. Do your best to minimise. Get rid of everything that’s moving during speech. Try not to move your hands and face as much as you may do in everyday life.
  7. Be as open as possible when working with your director. Remember, anything can change.

Tips for Preparing for a Stage Performance

  1. It all starts with the groundwork. Take the facts from the script and think about your perception and take on the character and build your performance from here.
  2. Find the character. Whether that’s doing diary entries as the character or finding characteristics or movements that the character would do, do the work.
  3. Learn your lines and try performing them differently every time you read them.
  4. Be proud to take up space and make yourself as big as possible – all whilst trying not to make it obvious that you’re an actor on stage.
  5. Stage performances are simply expressions through your body and sharing that with your audience.
  6. Use your body to thoughtfully express what your character’s feeling or what they’re going through.
  7. Bring your own energy, but equally, draw on your audience’s energy. It can be incredibly powerful.
  8. Involve the audience and make your performance big for the moment. There are people in the back row you want to experience what you’re trying to portray.
  9. Picture a cinema screen at the very back of the auditorium and imagine the images in your monologue or thoughts are playing out on the back of the auditorium wall. It automatically connects you to that very furthest spot so you know you’re filling the space.

Thanks to the performers for their tips!

If you’d like more tips and advice about moving between disciplines, read our articles on transitioning from theatre to tv or film and finding success moving from stage to screen.

Photo credit: Joanna Nicole Photography