Researching a role

Begin with a close reading of the play then research the part you’re playing.

Try and answer the following questions:

  • when is the play set?
  • in what country is it set?
  • who was the Prime Minister at the time?
  • what major events took place?
  • how did people dress?

This will help you to understand the social, political and historical context of the play. Look at The world of the play for more information.

Historical roles

If you’re researching a historical role you’ll need to know what was happening around you at the time of the play. After all, if you’re enacting a romance set in a country torn apart by war, it’s reasonable to suppose that the action might be fuelled by an additional layer of tension. Or, if the play is set in the high-society London of the 19th century, the social rituals would be as much a part of the action as the plot itself.

If you’re playing a historical role, you must investigate what you’d be wearing. If it’s an elaborate costume worn by a Tudor character such as Elizabeth I, what impact would it have on your movement? Look at Using your body to learn more.

An image from the film Elizabeth, 1998, showing Cate Blanchett in the title role
Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth, 1998 Credit: Polygram Filmed Entertainment/Working Title/Channel Four/Ronald Grant Archive