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Why It's Critical For An Actor To Practice Observation


Observing people


Let me come straight to the point. 

Why an actor should indulge in “observation”?

For Survival!


An actor’s observation is a very important trigger to their  imagination. It is something that will help any aspiring actor to become more aware of their surroundings and little details. It develops their sense memory data bank, the power of imagination and eventually their ability to create and transform into a script’s character convincingly.

Professional actors have become amazing observers and this is how they are able to put themselves in
other people’s shoes and gives them the opportunity to act out other roles. Actors who are just starting out will be able to do roles that fit their personality the most but this does not mean that you will be doing the same roles forever. To become a better, you must improve your observation skills and it will help you become the best actor ever. 

It is my favorite because it’s easy. You do not need a rehearsal space, special equipment, or a
dedicated time. It is called “observing,” and I’m pretty sure I’m not the first one to tell you about it.
But it is such an important tool so I think it’s worth considering.

So where can one go to practice? 


Anywhere! Park, mall, tourist spots, In a metro train while traveling,  restaurants, museums,
busy streets, stadiums, shops… You don’t even have to plan anything ahead, just use the
opportunity when it arises. When you’re on a bus in the morning, observe. When standing in
the queue for coffee, observe. When having lunch in a cozy cafe, pay attention to how people
behave, how they react to different kinds of situations, and what are they like. 

Exercise


A. 
Pick one person out of the crowd let’s say in a metro train or bus you are traveling and
focus on them. Give him/her a name. Let’s say for the purpose of this article, he’s Mohan.
How old is he? What does she look like? What kind of personality do you think he has? What
makes him stand out from the rest in the place? Why did you pick him? What do you think
he’s thinking at this very moment and why? Any specific actions on her part? 

Then the true fun begins. A journey into imagination. Try to imagine the life of this person,
who must be your hero by now." What does A do for a living? Does A have a family? Where is
A going now? What is the biggest problem A has to solve? What is A dreaming about? If you
would dramatize A's life, what type of film/ play would it be? A love story? A drama? A
comedy? Why? Imagine a scene with A. Imagine the way he/she talks. Go in your mind as
detailed as you can (depending on how many metro stops you have, of course). The secret is
not to invent random things. Everything you come up with has to have a reason reflected in
the real person in front of you. 
This is the time to do as much observation and indulge in a creative imagination as you can. 

B. 
Once you are at home, write down your thoughts, be that person and practice

C. 
Apart from a person you can observe anything you see, like animal, store, things from nature,
building etc and continue with the above exercise

Observation is an amazing tool that actors can never survive without. Things like these will
train your imagination and return fresh, new, unseen and interesting results and characters
that you can later use in your acting work. Always try your best to put them aside somewhere
in your mental closet — you might just need your Mohan someday. 
Start from now itself. Pick up something and begin the fun!

Updated Post From 2013


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