On Developing Your Stage Versatility and Persona

To thine own self be true! As you continue to succeed in acting, it is so crucial that you decide what type of mentor you one day wish to be. What influence as a leader would you like to have? Which of your directors would you want to emulate? Which ones would you not want to be? As you develop your on-stage brand in the acting industry, it is important to delve deep and ask the right questions.

What kind of versatile actresses and actors would you want to be considered like as you age? What sort of roles do you respect? Look at the versatility of Benedict Cumberbatch and Meryl Streep. They do not allow themselves to be pigeonholed into only acting one type of role but develop a multitude of skills to give them the ability to conquer within the industry.

What sort of demographics do you tend to gravitate to? Who are your stage and screen target audiences? You may think that you’re just starting your acting journey, but asking deliberate questions, in the beginning, can save you a lot of frustration in the middle. You should also reassess your progress and growth as you add more diverse roles to your acting toolbox.

And though these questions are challenging to answer, they present much motivation into what sort of characters you create on stage and what kind of character you are offstage. what emotions you gravitate to presenting on stage, and which ones you want to get more confident with.

Just as an artist paints with very broad strokes of a brush in the beginning, you need to be able to know how to start creating your artwork on the stage. As you spend more time in the industry you want to deliberately create the masterpiece that is you. 

So who would you like to be? And what feedback have you been given to help you grow, stand out, self-assess, and acknowledge your weaknesses so you can develop them…. and your strengths? This is vital to your success on stage, and in life.

How to Find Your Niche in Acting – Your Acting Domains

You’ve succeeded onstage and understand the work it takes to put on a show. Now when you close your eyes, there’s a vision of performing in specific roles. Yet as you delve deeper, you might learn the director, or a fellow cast member, sees you have a talent that may captivate the audience. In any good acting school, the director will cast people in a variety of dissimilar roles to broaden their acting toolbox and skills. They will not lean into casting and type-casting the same people. (For in the business world, this would be tantamount to not developing your staff effectively).

So, seek insight and guidance for stage and film acting, and… then be ready to hear it. Keep an open mind. Don’t limit yourself by responding with a knee-jerk reaction because you might be finding your “sweet spot” on stage. And I know incredible actors that went farther with more confidence, more successful auditions, and a fuller, more diverse resume because they dared to explore their acting domains.

Value All Experience

Stay humble and audition for a variety of roles. Don’t limit yourself. And if you are cast, show up! Get your feet wet in a variety of different characters in drama, comedy, romance, and slapstick. Don’t clip your own wings before you can fly! Allow your creativity to develop and flourish. Ask to read for a cast member’s role to develop multiple physicalities simultaneously. You may be offered the chance to understudy. And that can lead to a more prominent role.

Don’t Compromise your Values.

Being upfront and honest about your comfort zone is crucial. And don’t compromise who you are, for that’s all you’ve got! Don’t break your moral code, for you’re the one to live with the consequences. So, make a decision and stick with it. The industry can be fickle, and you want to be more than a flash in the pan.

Create a Bucket or Wish List

The resume of roles you choose paves your path to the future. They identify how varied your ability to create is. Reflect on what you want your audience and future directors to think about you. For each type of role you “try on” and master on stage influences future opportunities. Success builds on success. 

Find a Stage Mentor

Ideally, a strong director will also be willing to be your stage mentor. They will help ask you the hard questions that allow you to be truthful with yourself and shave off years of unnecessary stress and strain. Identify someone calm and collected that directs with respect and humor. Who inspires you. don’t be afraid of rejection. Your potential mentor may be good, but they can’t read your mind that you are ready to be guided. And they may want to mentor you, but might need to wait for an opening in their schedule. So be brave and reach out. Then take guidance. The sky is the limit!

Felicia Pfluger, ©2023 The Pfluger Empathy Movement Method