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Aug 01

Working on New Work: Originating Roles

Working on new Work
By Sami DeSocio

Being an actor, we are so used to playing roles we’ve seen others play before us. Some of those roles and actors influenced our decisions to become actors in the first place. However, there are wonderful times where we are tasked with the challenge of originating roles and breathe life into a character for the first time. While this can be a blessing, this can also be one of the scariest things for an actor to do.

Why is it a blessing? Nobody has ever done this role before, you’re the first and you’ve been selected because either the casting director, playwright, or director saw something in you that they believe you can bring to this character. Its then up to you to build this brand new person from the ground up and embody them the best that you can. It’s the best part of the creative process, being able to pour yourself into a character nobody knows yet and become part of the process and watch the character change from page to stage!

There’s also no other performance to compare it to. You’re the first, you’re the original and from now on your performance is the one every other one will be compared to. That’s a lot of power to hold in your hand.

On the other side of that, there’s nobody to look to in order to get an idea of what your character is supposed to be like if you really do find yourself lost with no real direction from the playwright or director. Relax! Read the script again, and find something in there to make it uniquely your own.

When creating something original, you can’t be afraid to take those chances and let yourself free-fall into a character head first. It’s part of the fun and something that should excite you more than frighten you. You can do this.

I’ve had the unique opportunity to do this not once, but twice! Once in college at a reading for a show that unfortunately didn’t make it very far, and most recently with the show I just closed. It was exhilarating both times to look at the script, find my character, build it from scratch and give this character a real voice. It was an honor to do it both times, and I look forward to being able to do it again in my career.

The best advice I can give about creating a new character is to believe in yourself, act on instinct (I know, it goes against everything you’ve learned in your scene study/acting classes), and believe in the decisions you’re making.

Break a leg!

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