Instead of my usual Sunday evening article of general acting interest, I am going to talk a little bit about what I expect to be doing in my current project. More specifically, in the one act without any lines for me. I will not meet with the director or the cast until Wednesday. (3 days from now.) So I may find that my perceptions going in are off. But this is an initial assessment only.
To review what I myself know of the play so far...(though I have not read the whole script.)
All of the dialogue will be delivered by two characters, the interpreters. One for JFK, and one for Fidel Castro. The time is the Cuban Missile Crisis. Though I do not know the nature of the set or the blocking just yet, I learned at the auditions that both world leaders will be somewhere on stage, speaking into either headsets or telephones. Their voices, however, will not be heard. The audience will not know what the leaders have said until the interpreters speak.
If I understood it correctly, that is a major component to all of this. My character, (JFK) will not be mute, as it were. He will in fact be speaking. His voice simply will not be heard. This will require a different approach then it would if my character merely said nothing during the entire performance.
(I leave the arguments as to whether it would be easier or more difficult to be "mute" for another day.)
Those who have read this blog before already know that I take what I call "background acting" seriously. A silent character must register each moment through his face or body movements so as to never be out of character, or out of the moment. I have done this many times. As I explained above, this is somewhat different. Yet I believe many of the same skills will be utilized. It is just that in the case of most plays, such skills act as back up singers. In this play, those skills will be the soloists, in a sense.
I say this now, because I am willing to wager that a large amount of attention will be paid to my performance, (and that of the actor playing Castro) despite it being a background role. The nature of the play, as well as the notoriety of the characters I think will see to that, even if I, (and Castro) are not the leads of the piece. What this means to me is that the facial nuances, as well as body stance and gesticulations might have to be a bit more choreographed and rehearsed. More so at least than what might otherwise be called for in such a role.
As far as other preparations, I am not one that believes in verbatim memorization of everyone else's line in a show or scene. Familiarity, of course. I have spoken on this in the past. But memorizing everyone's lines in a scene is not usually my mode of attack. I am thinking however that in a play like this, it may be of more benefit. If not a verbatim commitment to the lines, at least a more narrow concentration on the scene than I may otherwise engage in.
Of course, I am often told that my concentration on every moment of a scene is more intense than most actors. If this is true, perhaps I am already ahead of the game here. We will find out.
I assume that my performance will rely on the same things it always relies on...inner thoughts which lead to lines. (We call that inner monologue in the acting world.) Only this time, the creation of said inner thought might have to be more obvious to the audience than it might otherwise be. This will depend on the script and the director, but I am prepared to go this route.
However one slices it, I must maintain the same standard of excellence on stage that I am used to giving an audience.
In sum, making use of non-verbal tactics will not be a totally new concept to me, as I believe every actor must always be acting. Relying on such things totally during certain scenes or certain moments is commonplace. Finding a way to rely on them for an entire play, albeit a one act play, is not something I have run into very often. Therefore I do look forward to this.
And technically, I can say right here and now that I am already...off book.