Classroom: Similarities between acting and writing

I firmly believe that life is full of lessons. I also believe that we should constantly be learning and improving in all aspects of our lives and interests. To help me remember better what I’ve learned, I am starting this new category ‘Classroom’ to jot down notes that I find important – notes that I get through reading, or workshops, or courses, or experiences, or revelations. 

(featured picture by CHCKL)

It’s no secret that I love acting. It’s a passion that started when I was a little girl, but it only fully blossomed when I started going for acting workshops in recent years. I began to realise that acting is not just about getting the limelight on stage and putting on dramatic expressions. More than that, acting is about internalising your role and character, and telling a story – the story of your character, as well as the main story of the play.

I love getting into character. I love finding out what drives my character, and what causes my character to be what she is, and why she does what she does. I love stepping into her shoes and reacting to the other actors in the different scenes. And I cheer for her when she gets what she wants, or grieves with her when she loses what she holds dear.

I also love writing. When I was in secondary school, I had wanted to be a novelist and had actually been writing short stories. Somehow along the way I lost that due to busyness with other things and a change of pursuits. But in the past two years or so, I was given the chance to help conceptualise and produce the plays in my church, and that has reignited the passion to write stories.

A few weeks ago, I read that Robert McKee said writers would benefit from actors’ training. That’s so true! Because as a writer, you need to know your actors from inside out. And that’s what we learn to do as actors. We need to ask the important questions:

  1. What is the character’s goal? (or What is the character’s want?)
  2. What is stopping the character from reaching the goal?
  3. What can the character do to overcome the obstacle?

Also, one important question that both actors and writers must ask themselves:

Why must the character achieve the goal NOW? 

Because if the character doesn’t need to achieve the goal immediately, there really isn’t any drama to it.

I’m so excited to know that what I’ve learned as an actor will also help me as a writer. Can’t wait to learn more!

 

Love,

Natalie

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