I was recently in a from-scratch production. That is to say, I was in a class where we took a source material (a book) and turned it into a play and performed it. We read the book, picked out key scenes, wrote the script, condensed condensed condensed, blocked it out, and put it on.
I got a lot of praise for how I acted, not only by people in the audience but by my classmates and teacher, and the person who wrote the book. My teacher even said that I was putting in passion that some seasoned actors didn’t have.
This was my second ever time on the stage. I don’t intend to go into acting. I’m dramatic, but I’m not an actor. Then how did I do so well with so little time? (We had like a couple of months to memorize the script or something, seriously.)
Personally, I think it’s because I’m a writer.
When I write, I don’t just tell a story. I become the characters. I figure out how they talk and what they would say in a certain situation, how they would react and what their body language is, how they interact with other characters and how they think and what they think. And I do this for as many characters as I can, so they can become real in their interactions with each other. I don’t just have a detective character, I have a fully fleshed young man who is cracking under the strain of his job and the pressure he puts on himself, someone to whom family and obligations are very important, a person who was formed by his past experiences. (The fun part about writing is that you can reverse engineer this, taking a character and saying “now how did they get to be this way? What happened to them to make them act and think like this?”)
It was the same sort of process. I had the story, and all I had to do was think, now how would a young girl react to all this? All I had to do was pretend. That’s all acting is, in the end; pretending.
And let’s face it, that’s what writing is too.