What is stage acting?

(Originally written for a college assignment)
Acting is the action of stepping out of your own reality and into an altered one.

To act on stage means to allow a character on a page to borrow your soul for a short time. Both the character’s actions and voice become yours.

By acting in this way, you are allowing yourself to see the world through that character’s vision and then sharing it with others. Although the character has been created in the script, that character can not come alive without you, and you can never live their unique life without them.

So, in my view, at the heart of acting for the stage is the desire to become more, see more, do more and to allow the audience to take part in that experience.

The audience in a theater isn’t important when you’re in the middle of a performance. Unless your character is a narrator or speaks directly to the crowd, most characters aren’t aware they have an audience watching them. That audience should not affect the character’s portrayal or view of the world; and therefore, should not affect the actor’s either.

Although the audience shouldn’t affect the acting, stage presence should. Demand the audience’s attention without letting them influence you. For stage acting, that means bigger movements, louder voices, more makeup, speaking clearly, and always standing in a way that keeps you partially turned toward the front of the stage.

In my opinion though, the most important aspect for strong stage presence is the subtle body language and reactions that people don’t always realize they use. Does the character speak with their hands? Does the character go up on tip-toes or twiddle their thumbs when nervous?

Actions do need to be larger on stage so people can see them in the back of the audience but larger doesn’t have to mean bolder. For instance, when distraught some people may place their hand on their stomach from sudden illness. On stage, you won’t just place your hand on your stomach, you’ll wrap it around your stomach and bend over it just a little.

Your actions make the character come alive by letting them live within your soul—that’s why you let them borrow you to begin with.