Preparing for your acting role

Read the script for your immediate connection to it. Take a few deep breaths and drop down into your body. Open yourself to your life experience and imagination. Then read the script slowly. Notice your immediate response to what you are reading. What captures your imagination? Where do you make the strongest connections to the role? Get a sense of the entire story as a whole. What images, feelings or ideas does the script arouse in you? Listen to the text. Read between the lines. What is really being said? As you listen to the text with your imagination, allow the energy and feeling of the script to emerge. The meaning of the script will emerge from the subtle shifts in thought, feeling and images that you experience.

The key is to take in the text, to take in, take in and take in and allow yourself to fill up.

Continue to re-read the script as many times as you can throughout the rehearsal period. As you read it, do so with a ‘beginners mind’. Connect in a relaxed honest way as you intuit and sense your way into the role. Trust your initial instincts. You will continue to have fresh new insights each time you read the script.

Approaching the text

Approach the text through receptivity… by taking it in and taking it in and taking it in. Do not try and do something with the text. Do not let your “will” take over. Do not approach it by seeing what you could do to the text to make it interesting or make it work. Approach by letting the text do something to you. Let it have its way with you. Let it penetrate you and evoke something in you!

The research and questions should take you intuitively into your life experience and imagination. Sense and intuit your way into the role. Technique is meant to help you make more specific choices. It is not meant to put you in your head and take you away from your instincts. Simply allow associations to come to you as you read the screenplay or play script.

Research, Research, Research!

Then Daydream, Daydream, Daydream!

Ninety-five percent of acting is preparation.

Types of Research

Do External Research. Read up on any concepts you are not familiar with. Read up on the Time Period of the piece or the Place/Country/City where the Play/Film takes place. Explore metaphors, symbols and archetypes for deeper meaning. Let all of this homework penetrate you so that you are sensing and feeling your way into it.

Do Internal Research by looking to your own observations, experiences and understanding about life.

There are more acting techniques you can find in script analysis books like Judith Weston’s Directing Actors or Larry Moss’ The Intent to Live.


Cindy Tanas is Recent Chair of the Toronto Association of Acting Studios (TAAS) and a member of ACTRA and Theatre Ontario