Someone told me that, in its simplest form, “A character is just an adjective plus a noun.” We’ve all seen the:
• jittery addict
• grumpy oldster
• nerdy I.T. guy
• slutty co-ed
• stern boss
• giggly schoolgirl
But how much more interesting is it to break those stereotypes? Look what happens when we just mix it up a little:
• nerdy addict
• slutty I.T. guy
• giggly boss
Of course, these are just examples.
On stage, your body will always tell you who your character is if you pay close attention. It doesn’t matter what the situation is; what matters is who you are.
A friend who trained with Susan Messing told me a story that perfectly illustrates this. Susan started a scene by coming in with a very sassy physicality, when someone endowed her as a judge. She had a choice: straighten up and become a typical, sober judge (thus destroying the character she had already established), or become the sassiest damn judge on the planet.
You can guess which one she chose.