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Know Your Type And The Roles You Can Be Cast For
The typing of actors usually begins with an gender/age-based description such as teen girl, as well as to contain more specific descriptions such as teenage girl, 16, angry, but sensitive, must be able to cry. It all begins here. Probably the most important aspect in starting and sustaining a career as an actor. Unfortunately not many texts address this aspect of the process of becoming an actor in very great depth or detail, but normally books about, or certain chapters in books, concerning the role of casting directors and/or the audition process can reveal valuable information on how to discover one’s type. Once you’ve realized your specific type a marketing plan can begin in earnest. Agents specifically need to know who actors are type-wise since this will make it easier for the agent to know exactly what to send the actor out on.
Check List To Discover Your Acting Type
|The first qualifier of an actors type may come through the submission of the headshot and resume which are what agents and casting directors will screen applicants by first.|
|Being the right age for the role.|
|Having the right physical dimensions for the role.|
|Having the right kind of voice for the role.|
|Having special talents the role requires, like dancing.|
|Able to take direction when it is given.|
|Having the right set of skills obtained through training and years of experience.|
|A match with the theatrical requirements of the role. For example, if the part calls for someone to take charge (dominate the proceedings) the actor should indicate this ability.|
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Casting people and agents are accustomed to categorizing actors according to type, and do use stereotypical character descriptions when placing casting notices. Typing is part and parcel of the acting business and has little to do with talent or acting range. Acting is a business where success is derived from being in the right place at the right time for the right role. If you want to be considered castable, you must discover your type, enhance it, and learn to play it superbly. But identifying with a character psychologically doesnt necessarily mean you will be able to play the role effectively.At a preliminary stage the director is getting a sense of the available talent from which to choose the cast. Some known qualities that directors are generally watching for include:
While the director tries to be as objective as possible, casting decisions are based largely on instinct -- the actors as well as the directors. The more experienced either is, the sharper those instincts tend to be.
A good audition announcement will give some specifics for each of the characters:
Study these to see which of the characters fits you best. If the announcement does not give this information, it may be available as a separate handout from the director or company. If there is no specific information, then read the play with particular care. Some scripts give this information up front; in other cases you will need to determine it from your own analysis. Take notes, not only of which characters you might be suitable for, but also for personality, motivations and relationships that might help you better prepare for the auditions.
Most directors make cast choices based on the appearance of the entire show. If an actor looks out of place, the overall image for which the director is striving can suffer.
Terms To Know
Casting. When a casting director puts out the news that he needs to fill a certain role that requires an approximate age range and appearance such as a certain ethnicity, height, build or look.
Character Role. A supporting role with pronounced or eccentric characteristics.
Head Shot. An 8" x 10" photograph that acts as your calling card for securing television, film and theatrical work, showing your face as it actually appears. The head shot should capture your best and most unique physical features, while still remaining true to your actual image.
Image. The casting type or quality you wish to convey and portray to the theatrical community.
Open Casting Calls. Auditions open to anyone.
Photo Double. An actor, usually an extra, used in place of a principal actor who is either unavailable or only seen partially, and never has any speaking lines.
Presence. An actors ability to command attention onstage, even when surrounded by other actors.
Screen Test. A recorded audition to determine a persons suitability as an actor for film or television.
Type Casting. Assigning a role to an actor on the basis of his or her surface appearance or personality.
Typed-out. The elimination of an actor during auditions because of such obvious features as height, weight or age.
To illustrate further, and to get you to begin thinking about types you would be able to portray well, here are some types that might be called for in a casting section:
After the play has been selected, the director may reread it several times making notes on each character from these perspectives:
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In her book, Hollywood Here I Come: How to Launch a Great Modeling or Acting Career Anywhere, Cynthia Hunter describes a methodology using public survey techniques to help you discover your type:
So how do you discover the right image for you in order to get that edge? Well, now its time for that survey I referred to earlier. The idea I am about to propose may be a little challenging, but hear me out. Heres what I want you to do. Its a little technique that I call canvassing. Basically, when you canvas, you are giving yourself an opportunity to get a disinterested third party to evaluate the you project based on their first impression of you. The image questionnaire provided at the end of this chapter will help you zero in on your natural sale. Therefore, your assignment, should you decide to accept it, is the following:
1. Make copies of the questionnaire.
2. Find a partner to canvas with you, so that when your partner approaches other people to ask for their participation they will not be influenced by hearing your own voice.
3. Go to a public place where people are waiting and have time to kill. (Ideal spots include college campuses, airports, malls, bus stations, etc.)
4. Have your partner ask someone if he or she would be willing to take a few minutes to fill out a questionnaire. (My favorite approach is: Would you like to fill out a questionnaire Its fun and its free.)
5. Assuming you get a willing participant, have your partner explain that he or she will point out a person (you) to them and that, after observing that person (you) for a while, they will be asked to give their impressions by checking off their first impulses about this person on the questionnaire. Have your partner give the participant the questionnaire and a pencil. Then, have your partner point you out, and let the games begin! (If you dont have another actor to do this with, get a friend or relative to do it with you. It is critical that the person being observed not speak to these people in order to get a honest survey.)
6. Do this enough times to get a significant amount of surveys from which you can either make a fairly accurate assessment or, at least, get a good, strong sense of the image you project.
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