Researching a contemporary role

There’s still research to be done even if the part is a contemporary or modern role. You might approach your performance as Stanislavski would have done, putting yourself in the situation of the character and answering the question, What would I do if I was that character? But whatever acting method you’re going to choose, you have to have some intellectual understanding of the situation to approach the role.

For example, if a character is homeless, what does this mean for them? What are the chances of regaining a normal life? How would you move if you’re always cold and hungry? What’s the physical reality of sleeping rough?

If you’re the director, you should research everything because the overall statement that the play makes is your responsibility. In order to create that statement effectively, you must have a clear grasp of:

  • the context of the play
  • the social and historical background
  • each character’s motivation
  • the style you’ve chosen to use to stage the play, eg naturalistic

You must know and understand how and why these decisions will enhance the representation of the playwright’s words.