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  • How to Act (3): Theatre actors and their secrets
  • Sophie Brun
  • acting techniquesactors livesworking in theatre

How to Act (3): Theatre actors and their secrets

Roger Allamhas worked with the RSC, the National, Shakespeare's Globe and in the West End. TV and film includes The Thick of It, Tamara Drewe and Parade's End. Here's what he says:

Learn your lines so well that you never have to worry about them.​ ​Keep a notebook about the play, the character, the period, your moves. It'll help you remember what you have done so far – especially if you're having to rehearse in your spare time rather than all day, every day.

Never go dead for a second on stage. Even if you are doing nothing, do it actively. Listen.​ ​If something goes wrong – say someone drops something – don't ignore it. Try to deal with it in character.

Warm up your voice and body. Get used to the size of the auditorium; if you don't know it already, go to the worst seats in the house and have conversations with people on the stage so you get to know what kind of energy is needed to be heard.

Be ambitious. The great actor, director and playwright Ann Jellicoe commissioned writers like Howard Barker and David Edgar, and put on magnificent, large-scale plays in Dorset that involved the whole community.

On the other hand, probably avoid Aeschylus's Oresteia or anything by the German dramatist Heinrich von Kleist.​ ​Try not to worry about embarrassing yourself. That's a lifetime's task.

The Victorian actor Henry Irving said: "Speak clearly and be human" – but if you listen to his recordings, the boundaries of that are pretty vast. James Cagney said:"Never relax, and mean what you say." I think that's pretty good.

You are released from the miserable aspects of having to earn your living in this marvellous business called show, so have fun: be as serious as you like, but enjoy yourself.
  • Sophie Brun
  • acting techniquesactors livesworking in theatre