Tollywood actor Rwitobroto Mukherjee took to the Theatrixmas stage on December 28, 2021, sharing tips and tricks from his journey as a performer – from his first lesson in acting to exercises an actor should do all his life.
Theatrixmas was a five-day celebrity workshop organized by the Xaverian Theatrical Society of St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. Edugraph was the digital partner of the event that commenced on December 23.
Excerpts from the Generation Ami actor’s session
- When you commit yourself as a performer or as the person working behind the scenes, it is a full-time job. This is not something you can do part-time.
- As an actor, you never stop learning. The first thing that I learned as an actor was to feel the character I am playing no matter what the character’s age is. Try and feel what the character is going through. You can’t teach someone how to become an actor; he or she needs to imagine and feel the character well. Being an actor is a dynamic process where you always have to learn and unlearn and grow with the world.
- When you are given the script, you should understand, worship and love it. The writers have put everything they had on the script, the director has a vision for the script and everyone’s vision comes together into that piece of paper. So, try not to go off-script in your very first attempt.
- I still believe in learning your lines and rehearsing because I still panic before shows. Also, working with your coworkers is important. I’ve learned that you should give 150% in your rehearsals. You have to be prepared and condition yourself in such a way that no matter what happens on the stage, you keep delivering. For that, working with the script is necessary.
- There are some exercises that one can continue doing for the rest of one’s life as a performer. These exercises are with your eyes, face, voice and body. The first exercise is to go to one corner of your room, stand up, raise your hands and try to think of an emotion. Then fix your focus to a single point on your wall and try not to shift from that point. You’ll feel the emotion – for example, anger – in a particular intensity from point A to C, A being the lowest and C being the highest. Now, the more you get angry your hands go down. You can’t move your lips or body except for your hands. The entire exercise is about your eyes keeping focus. You can only express yourself through your eyes. It’s a very good example of how actors can use their eyes because they are the most expressive.
We are restricting body movements or dialogues in this exercise because many times, you’ll get scenes where you are not under the spotlight. Maybe you are an important character but you can’t hit sixes in every scene. A good actor knows where to stand out and not to steal the spotlight from someone who is the focus of the scene. Sometimes in a scene, you are not supposed to do anything and just stay still, sometimes you might not have a single dialogue. It doesn't mean you will fidget on the stage to get the audience’s attention. You should get into your character and express it through your eyes.
- The second exercise is completely about your face. Start with one portion of your face, try to control your eyebrows followed by the rest of the face. This trains the muscles and nerves of your face.
- Lastly, the voice exercise. There are three stages of speaking on stage as an actor. You start with your belly, when the resonance has to be high. That is when you are delivering to a larger audience. Inhale as much as you can and try to exploit your breath. See how long your breath can go while you read a particular paragraph. Inhale as much air as possible into your stomach and try to get your voice to come from there.
The next thing is completely the opposite – exploit your vocal cord to see how deep your voice can go. You need to take breaths in between your dialogues. While reading a passage, you need to understand where you can take a break and breathe or how long you can hold your breath.
- There is another exercise called leader and follower. This will make you a good co-actor. The leader shows his palm in front of his follower, while the follower follows the leader’s palm wherever it goes without shifting focus. This exercise helps you focus and coordinate with your co-actor while training your muscles.
- As an actor, you need to feel and understand your emotions instead of judging them.