Firstly, we’re not talking about creating exceptional award winning performers here, in it’s most basic form, the fundamentals of drama are about expression, movements, directions, etc… all very universal skills that are useful in a multitude of life situations. Encouraging young people to get involved in acting and to learn the skills may have a very direct outcome (eg. the young person develops a passion for acting) or it may have indirect benefits (eg. the child becomes more confident in public). Some of these are skills that some adults may take for granted, but for younger people it doesn’t come easy.
Some younger people will have a natural talent for acting (indeed, they may even have a natural stage presence) and the process of acting will come somewhat naturally. However, it may be rare that a younger person has the complete package. For example, their language may be fantastic but their movement or projection weak – being involved in acting will help to develop all areas.
So, the following tips are a list of areas that young people will need to concentrate on and may need reminding of from their tutors as they get involved in acting.
1. Practise entrances and exits
Young actors and their tutors need to ask the questions about their situation: Where are they entering from? How do you want them to enter? Walking? Running? Are they looking for something? Are they lost – looking around? Are they running away? Should they look scared? Are they deep in conversation?
You have also to consider what happens during and after the scene. Remember, in theatre, you need an entrance and an exit: Where do they go? To the centre of the stage? When they exit, where will they exit to – left or right? How will they exit? Walk? Run? Excited? Scared?
This is a prime example of the level of planning that needs to go into a performance, especially an ensemble piece.
2. Don’t speak with your back to the audience
Many young people on a stage will forget to do this as they get carried away with their performance or if nerves set in. It is vital for the enjoyment of the audience that this rule is always followed. If it is happening, you gotta just keep reminding the young actors of the absolute importance of this.
3. Use gestures, tone and pitch to add dramatic effect to lines
Actions often speak louder than words. For young actors, the words can often take all a young actor’s attention in an effort to get the lines right. Concentrating on words can result in a young actor looking stiff or not projecting properly. The use of gestures, movement and practicing intonation will add rhythm and accentuate the voice, make the words more powerful and full of meaning
4. You are always acting when you’re on stage
When a young actor is on stage and they have no words, they can often look lifeless or distracted as they over concentrate on what’s being said – waiting for their lines to arrive or a cue for a movement.
If something exciting or important is happening on the stage, the other actors need to react to it. If a family member is sick, they should look worried, or scared or concerned. The right response by all actors on the stage will add to the authenticity of the scene, making the ensemble performance stronger. Until this comes naturally to a young actors, they will need to be reminded that they should be always acting when on stage.
5. Speak slowly
The speed at which someone speaks can be hard to control as it is only natural that as you become over familiar with the words and repeat performances, the words start to come quicker and can even lose their meaning or importance.
Also, it is worth noting that, in general, speaking slower tends to make what they say sound more dramatic.
6. Project their voices
This is especially important if performing in a large space, but it should be practiced in all scenarios. Always remind young actors that speaking in a loud voice is not the same as shouting. It’s always a good idea to practice this so that young actors have good control or a strong voice.
These are just some tip to keep you voice on becoming a better actor. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any tips of your own…