The main aspects of a performance

Knowing the acting tools to use for each piece of drama is a skill that is developed with practice. Identifying the performance’s style, genre and form will often dictate how to perform a particular role, as each of these has conventions.

There are many ways an actor might change their approach depending on the performance’s genre, style or form. For example:

  • musical theatre - usually clear, strong and dynamic speech and movement and lots of costumes, staging and effects are used to help communicate meaning
  • classical, eg Shakespeare or Ancient Greek - often no props or set are used, instead relying on clear speech and more exaggerated acting to communicate the action
  • physical theatre - emphasising the use of physical movement, eg dance and mime, making the performers’ physicality the focus
One actress holds another actress on stage in Pity
Pity, The Royal Court

Performer to audience relationship

Performers might interact with the audience, eg through direct address or audience participation, but most of the time the performer to audience relationship is built more subtly, eg through eye contact and the use of space. The style of the performance will decide the methods of building the performer to audience relationship. It can be experimented with, eg by using downstage, close to the audience, for important or significant moments.

Engagement

To engage an audience, performers need to be completely focused and remain in character throughout, known as a sustained performance. This can be tiring and can take a lot of practice throughout the rehearsal process.

Health and safety

Performers need to consider their own health and safety, as well as that of the audience. It is important to ensure that performers warm up both physically and vocally during rehearsals and before going on stage for any performance.