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

The Java Jive: Depicting Trauma on Stage

It happens. You get an incredible role – with trauma in it. Thankfully, you haven’t experienced anything like this in real life. You haven’t lost a loved one. Or been trapped in a garret to avoid persecution. Or been burnt at a stake. Or walked down the street and be assaulted – or accused of something you never would do. So how do you deliver a real and authentic performance when you have no such life experience to draw from?

We’ve all seen it happen. A normally talented performer becomes wooden and emotionally-affective during a fight scene, retreats during aggressive stage conflict, or worse – “fights the part”. How do we transcend this “fight or flight” instinct? How do we keep it real and authentic on stage?

It answer is simple. What parallels have you experienced that you can draw from? Maybe, thankfully, you have never lost a spouse, parent, or sibling, but, you might have helped a friend through the pain – or know the pain of losing your pet. Think on how you would, with kindness and empathy, help them. Then, use that as your starting point.

The stages of grief are universal. The rules would definitely apply to this pandemic. As humans, we deny. We bargain. We are shell-shocked. We grieve. We become depressed and angry. And finally, we find some acceptance. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Because the stages of grief can come and go as we process these painful losses. The loss of a job and our identity. The loss of our childhood home. The loss of a child. The loss of what we thought was permanent and safe and protected.

That is what we take to the stage. That is what we give to the audience. The honesty of the emotion. The bravery of showing it through our actions. And portray hope for the future

Challenges to Percolate:

Be super brave for five minutes today.

  • Think about something you mourn. Remember “the emotions in the room” at that time. Think what got you through it, that you could bring to a role in healing.
  • “Text” a letter to a character you struggled with, showing your support for them, and then read it as that character would. Allow this to be a “moving action” to heal.

~ Felicia Pfluger

© The Pfluger Empathy Movement Method