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Student Blog: Acting in a Box

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Dealing with the negative internal thoughts that come with being typecast

Student Blog: Acting in a Box

Actors, we've all been typecast. It's unavoidable. It's the worst, and I wish it didn't happen, but again, it is unavoidable. I am a very petite human. The tallest I am gonna get is 5'1. In high school, I was almost always cast to play a child or just not cast at all. Too small to play adults I guess. In college, I have only played two kids but seem to have gained a new typecast of consistently playing comedic roles of the opposite gender.

Don't get me wrong, I've loved every role I've played. I know comedic roles are my strong suit. A little bit of my awkward energy seeps into every role I play that makes my presence just kind of naturally funny. I also like making people laugh; it makes me happy. However, I can't help but wonder what it would be like to play a romantic lead. I honestly don't know if I would even like it. Maybe it would be incredibly boring compared to what I usually play, but I desperately want to be given the chance to find that out for myself. And I know this is the case for a lot of actors. I know people who are constantly cast in motherly roles or villains or even are stuck in what seems like a never ending cycle of playing only romantic leads. I want to offer my story and advice to anyone who feels stuck in a certain type of character because I know it can be hard and the toll it can take on your confidence.

One of the biggest struggles I have been working through over the last few years is the way playing men has affected my body image. I tend to fall into a pattern of thinking that the reason I am not cast as a romantic lead is because of how I look or that I am not graceful enough and couldn't play a leading lady type even if I tried. I also struggle with getting people to take me seriously. I play silly characters so often that it sometimes feels like I am morphing into a caricature of my real self. I am becoming someone that is not to be taken seriously even in my own life.

Recently, I sought advice from a friend of mine who has struggled with a very similar problem after playing the role of Creon in Antigone. She gave me many valuable tips that I have been implementing into my own life especially now that I have begun rehearsals for a commedia dell'arte show playing the role of old man Pantalone. First off, I am trying to be honest about how I am feeling with my cast, letting them know that it is important to me that there is a clear distinction between how I am treated when in character and when not. Secondly, I have been giving myself daily affirmations especially right before rehearsal. Finally, finding positive traits that my character and I share has been so helpful for this show in particular. Pantalone is typically a mean and greedy old man, but in this adaptation, I have been playing him as sweet and caring which brings more of who I am to the table. I would recommend these three things to any actor struggling with typecasting or even just struggling with how a particular role is making you feel. Acting is hard! It takes so much mentally, emotionally, and physically, so it's important to listen to your own needs.


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From This Author Student Blogger: Maddie Davies