Actors' Assignment #2: HISTORICAL RESEARCH

July 1, 2014

Research?

 

I have to do research if I want to be an actor?

 

Yes. One of the big themes we keep cycling back to is that a good performance is detailed and layered. One of the layers you should always add to your performances is an understanding of the time period of the play.

 

But our play takes place in a weird loopy time warp of a cartoon that never existed.

 

Yes, and yet, you still want to do your research.  Obviously, you'll need to look up--and write down--the definition of every unfamiliar word. Don't worry that people will think you are dumb for writing down word definitions. I always do it. I have a huge vocabulary and there are plenty of words people with smaller vocabularies know that I don't. All of the best and smartest actors I've ever known have written down the definitions of words they don't typically use in their own lives in their scripts. It helps.

 

Okay, but dictionary work is wicked boring. Anything cool I can do for research?

 

Why not watch REALITY TV?

Seriously, Public Television did a reality show where people dressed up like it was 1905 and had to live in a manor house for three months. The upper class family loved it. The people working as servants, not so much.  You can look up episodes (it's called "Manor House"). There's also a great website to click through that lets you take a SNOB QUIZ (I'm 61% snob, Tim is 39%. Go Figure.), and also enter your parents' professions to see where you would end up. (I'd be a Factory Worker. Yay.) There is also a lot about manners, ettiquette, and more. If you're trolling around the internet anyway, it's worth a look:

http://www.pbs.org/manorhouse/index.html

 

Enjoy!

 

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