When actors act, they are in the business of creating chemistry, creating a relationship, and making it believable.
Say you are playing a romantic relationship (which happens often), and you need to create chemistry with your partner. Sometimes you might just meet them for the first time that morning on set. What if your role is that you’ve been married for 10 years? That relationship needs chemistry and history. You need to make choices and create specifics.
Actors make choices to create a connection, and bring intimacy to their relationships. We all have tricks and techniques that we use. Actors usually base their choices on the material, and make their interpretations based on it. Interesting actors add colors, layers, and different levels to create a deeper character and relationship.
Here’s one to play with. I like this homework because it’s not necessarily in the writing. It’s a quality found outside the writing that can add to your character. Try it out sometime. When playing a romantic relationship, ask yourself this: “What is the love language of this relationship?” Romantic relationships often have a love language, what the characters need or how they communicate. What is the love language of you and your partner? Forget the script for now, as this language can be unspoken.
Examples of love language can be the following: gifts, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, sex, and food. You might come up with others. By having an unspoken love language, you can add a color to your character and relationship.
I have not seen this technique described in any acting books, but was inspired when I heard about the teachings of Dr. Gary Chapman, PhD, author of the book, “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to your Mate”(Northfield Press). He speaks and gives seminars on the subject of intimate relationships. I bring this up because I find it can be a valuable tool in creating your romantic characters with history. Try it out.
I haven’t attended one of his seminars or read his book, but I intend to. (So I can be a better actor? or partner? maybe both!! ) This is what is I love about what we do. Through our craft, our seeking truth in our preparations and characters, and then through our performances, we educate people by displaying humanity, how people relate, love, and struggle. In the process we can improve ourselves as well. What a business! I recommend checking this out in your performance and maybe even your personal life! Until next time, keep working on yourself.