Thought-based Acting

Leeann Dearing

The average human entertains approximately 70,000 thoughts per day. Whether erroneous, spontaneous, carefully calculated, based on fact, or imaginatively crafted; controlled, or allowed free rein; thoughts inform our every decision and contribute to the very foundation of who we are.

If the art of acting is realism, and art should imitate life, should not characters have thoughts? To immerse yourself fully in a character, consider giving your character a thought life. We call this thought-based acting.

First, you must know your lines forward and backward. If you stop to think about a line, your character is unable to think. Secondly, dive into the script and glean from it all information and clues regarding your character. From that gleaned information, continue to build upon your character’s backstory. Flesh out your character’s personality by generating life experiences that complement the facts and explain your character’s disposition, life perspective, behavior, mannerisms, and actions.

Once you’ve come to understand your character on this level, you can begin to intentionally think on his or her behalf. What thought would spark your character to do or say what the script dictates at that precise moment? When you consistently rehearse with such purpose, soon you will find that you think in character naturally, with little to no effort at all.

Why is thought-based acting so important? Not only does it give you as the actor something to do when you aren’t talking, but it also creates those natural expressions, gestures, and body language that separate the good actors from the the great ones. If you truly wish to move an audience, aspire to greatness.