How To Use Your Costume & Accessories To Create Character & Trigger Emotion
Many actors work very hard to develop their character and they struggle through a painful process to bring forth a desired emotional state, but actors don't have to work so hard because there's an easy and powerful way to approach the material by using your costume and accessories.
If you've ever studied Eric Morris's technique (www.ericmorris.com) then you know all about how effective the Choice Approach of "Objects That Come Into Contact With The Body" truly is.
If you have not explored Eric's amazing system of acting, I highly recommend you take the time to look into his work. Eric's contribution to our craft has spanned over 50 years and it is one of the most comprehensive and complete systems of acting ever developed. I know that this is a huge statement, but it's true and anyone that denies or questions that has not actually explored his work.
OK, I'm off my soap box now. Let's get back to how we can use our costume and accessories to help us do our work as actors.
Here are some questions for you to help get this conversation going.
If you get all dressed up in expensive formal wear, with expensive shoes and expensive jewelry, how is your emotional state and overall behavior affected?
If you are outside working in the yard all day and your clothes, boots, gloves and hat are covered in mud and grass stains, how is your emotional state and overall behavior affected?
If you attend a live sporting event of your favorite sports team and you wear the team's jersey, scarf and hat, how is your emotional state and overall behavior affected?
If you're home alone, curled up on the couch, wrapped in a soft fleece blanket while you're wearing your most favorite pajamas and comfy socks, how is your emotional state and overall behavior affected?
If you go the gun range and put on the goggles, ear-protection, and pick up the weapon and feel the steel and the weight in your hands, how is your emotional state and overall behavior affected?
If you go to the beach and you wear your most revealing swimwear, how is your emotional state and overall behavior affected?
If you took the time to allow these scenarios to penetrate you, you would have been affected in some way. Sometimes you felt confident and sexy, sometimes you felt powerful, and other times you felt dirty, gross insecure and vulnerable.
And all these changes in your overall energy were triggered by you simply thinking about the various clothes and accessories. You just experienced the power of how "Objects That Come Into Contact With The Body" can truly transform you and you did it all through your sense and your imagination. Just think of how powerful the transformation in you could be when you are wearing the clothing and accessories than penetrate you to your core.
So, if you need to play a powerful character that is full of confidence, make sure you wear the clothes and adorn yourself with the accessories that your body and emotions naturally are affected by and impel in you that overall state of confidence.
If you need to play a sad, depressed and lonely shut-in, again, make sure you wear the clothes and adorn yourself with the accessories that your body and emotions naturally are affected by and impel in you that overall state of darkness.
By now, I know many of you are thinking, "Yeah, I get it, but what if I don't have the ability to pick my costume and accessories? What do I do then? How do I use this approach if the clothes and accessories that transform me are not available to me?"
It's a logical and appropriate question. And the answer is...you just did it a minute ago.
When you read the questions above and you allowed your senses and your imagination to lead you, your body was transformed in some way that closely aligns to how your body would be affected if you were wearing the clothes and accessories mentioned above.
SO...this is yet again, another instance where SENSE MEMORY is a MUST HAVE SKILL for actors. If you do not know how to truly do SENSE MEMORY, then so many powerful acting craft tools will not be available to you. YOU MUST MASTER SENSE MEMORY. And yes, I teach Sense Memory inside the Toolbox, so please consider joining.
Here's another option for you. You could covertly wear an article of clothing or an accessory underneath your costume, so long as it is never visible to the audience or the camera. Perhaps you need to feel sexy, well, why not put on your satin or silk undergarments or maybe don't wear underwear at all and feel your pants on your skin.
Perhaps you need to feel a deep emotional sense of loss. Well, if you have a personal object, like a necklace that was given to you by your Grandmother before she passed away, perhaps (and again, only if the covert wearing of it won't be seen by the audience or the camera) you could wear that necklace under your shirt. The mere fact that it's there and you can feel it on you, will trigger the loss and connection to your Grandmother because of its endowed and embedded meaning and history.
So please give this a lot of thought. Please pay attention to how clothes and accessories affect you throughout your day and then the next time you have to work on a role, why not explore wearing specific clothes and accessories that naturally impel your body and emotions in the direction needed by the script. Trust your body...it knows what to do long before your head figures it out.
For another perspective on this topic, here's a wonderful article from The Los Angeles Times newspaper written by Randee Dawn posted on Nov. 16, 2017
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I hope this post has inspired you in some small way. I look forward to reading your comments.
Bye for now and Stay Safe My Fellow Travelers.
See you inside the Toolbox.