I love performing.
I am a good singer and I have stage presence.
But what I really bring to the stage is my story-telling ability.
Not as in telling the story of the show but in telling the story of the character I’m portraying; my ability to create a full backstory for that character – to make them as real (to me at least) as I possibly can.
I cannot remember a time when I was not able to make up a story about anything. A photo, a painting, a snippet of a book, a bit of a TV show, people around me, etc. All were jumping off points for my brain to start trying to fill in the gaps and keep the story going.
I can spend hours doing something “mindless” (like crocheting, playing solitaire, doing jigsaw puzzles, and all the while my brain is spinning a story.
So when I have a character to play; first I take what’s in the script and start building on that. If it’s a historical character, then I add what is known about that person (and more importantly, what that person would have known at the time the show takes place); otherwise, I create my character out of whole cloth. From the table read to the final performance, if someone asks me why my character does something, I know.
That doesn’t mean that the character is set in stone – at least not until the show opens.
The character has to be flexible enough to include the director’s vision and/or the relationships my character has with other characters.
It’s one of the reasons I can seem uncooperative when asked to play something differently or given some insight into how another character views my character – I know why my character is doing what I’m doing it. But give me a little time by myself and my whirling mind, and I’ll adjust my character’s thinking to encompass the change or new information.
It’s why I enjoy the rehearsal process so much.
It’s probably my favorite part about performing – becoming part of somebody else’s story.
To me that’s the real magic of the theater.