Performance choices

Once the play has been cast and rehearsals begin, the director and the actors will develop further thoughts about characters and how they should be presented. The text of the play and Priestley’s choice of language will provide the biggest indication of how to make these choices. Typically actors will look closely at the text to see:

  • what the character says about her/himself
  • what the character says about other characters
  • what other characters say about her/him

This evidence from the text will help actors to make initial choices about the way their character will develop.

There will be discussions about a character's motivation and why a character behaves in the way that they do. Reaction to other characters and interaction between them is obviously important and this will be explored in rehearsals, workshops, discussions and further investigation of the text. The director will also consider themes in the play and may wish to emphasise some and pay less attention to others. This will further affect decisions about performance and the particular way that the production will interpret the play.

Watch the following clip which discusses the portrayal of Sybil Birling. Which of the performances do you prefer? Mrs Birling is a character the audience should enjoy see breaking down because she is so cold and uncaring. Which of these actresses gets this across best? Why and how does she do this?