fleshing out 2
By Kimon Fioretos
(inspired by great teachers of acting)
After your lists and the pattern of behavior, it is time to ask some questions.
People in journalism know them and their usefulness by heart
Asking questions to flesh out the character is an essential tool for the actor. Now asking
the right questions and their answers...that is another ball game.
The classic questions are:
● And how...
These are the basic 6 questions, but if we want to be more precise, we need to make them
● Who (am I )
● What (do I want)
● When (is this happening)
● Where (is all this taking place)
● Why (do I want what I want)
● How (will I get what I want)
● Where (am I coming from right now)
● Why (do I want what I want NOW)
● What (will happen if I don't get it NOW — consequences)
● What (is in my way — obstacles )
Now, these questions do describe overall what is happening in the story, and an actor
should (every time) be able to write down a single paragraph that describes his character
predicament, but that is not their only function. These questions are your gate.
They work as reality (the reality of the character) gatherers; they are authenticity
enrichers and research reminders.
These questions, if asked and answered correctly, will allow you to do the research from prop and wardrobe to the author and so much more.
Take, for example, the question WHO.
We think it is simple, but it not that simple.
You see, you can be a father, you can be a brother, you can be a CEO of a huge fortune
500 company, for all I care, you can be a freaking highly paid assassin, but in this play, you happen to be an assassin who's now a lost "sex tourist" in Japan.
You have to take into consideration all the slices of the pie that create your character.
Let's say you are a doctor, what kind? How does that inform your inner monologue, what
schedules do you follow? What are your daily preoccupations?
A king? Even better!
Let's say you answer the who question. If you are patient enough, you will feel inside you
excitement for the details that all the questions provide; they are inspiring, informative.
I don't need to get into all the questions. I am sure you get the idea, and I know you've
fiddled with them before; some of them will set a time frame, an era, a piece of history,
some of them are internal. However, it all comes down to research and to your choices.
Here is the pickle; as far as choices are concerned, you have two shops you can buy from
The cheap shop (hasty, risk aversive, cliché) and the expensive executive one (risky,
well researched, stimulating.)
And as Stella Adler said, "Your talent is in your choices".
Without exception, when you research and when you make choices, you have to
"Always be specific".
Do not neglect anything; do not overlook the month or the season. Do not even overlook
if it is a Monday or a Sunday, for that matter. It makes a difference!
Do not overlook the fact that you are in Japan on a Monday afternoon in December on
Christmas eve, alone!
continue to fleshing out 3