The essence of acting lies in the power to react. According to Reid Scott, “Acting is reacting. You can’t react if you’re not paying attention if you’re not listening.”
How should an actor react to give life to a character? How can an actor determine a way to deliver dialogues effortlessly and flawlessly? What is the best way for an actor to feel more connected to a character? The answer is simple: The 5 Ws of acting.
For an actor, it becomes imperative to know about the 5 Ws as it helps in achieving the two main goals:
To master the art of acting, the 5 Ws become crucial. The 5 Ws are – Who, What, Why, Where, and When.
The ‘who’ deals with the question, “Who are you?”
If you’re given a character, ask yourself the following questions:
With the help of “who” you can establish your character’s personal history, goals, struggles, aspirations, fears, and so on.
As an actor, you have to be unique. Establish your character in such a way that it not only makes you distinctive but also memorable. While it is important to play your own character, it is equally critical to define the character who is in your opposition.
Try to answer the following questions:
To understand your character better, you need to be very specific and pay attention even to the tiniest bit of detail. This is what is going to set you apart from other actors.
The ’what’ indicates the conflict. Every story has a conflict. Without proper clarity on the ‘what you will not have a base to build your scene on.
The What asks the following questions:
To be extraordinary, think of a goal that will prove to be life-changing. A goal that is not easy to achieve and requires you to overcome huge obstacles. This is what is going to keep the audience hooked. Brainstorm and ask yourself: What is my goal? What obstacles am I going to overcome?
The ‘why’ helps an actor determine the motive of the story. It gives rise to the following questions:
It helps in figuring out the deeper meaning behind a scene. For example, An actor said they are feeling heartbroken. The Why helps in determining the reason behind their feeling heartbroken. Why is the actor feeling this way? It is something that is not given in the script but it is an emotion that needs to be felt.
The ‘where’ suggests location. It is often said that specific environments help tell the story in a much efficient manner.
Thinking of the Where, one can simply think of the question mentioned below:
As an actor, you have to tell a story that others relate to, and to tell that story, you need to be in a proper setting, a location so your story looks authentic and aesthetic. You need to be very specific about the environment you are in. For example, if you are at a football game, you need to pay attention to the atmosphere and think about how does it help you deliver your dialogues.
Answering these questions will help you create a suitable environment to tell your story to the audience.
The ‘when’ refers to the period. Timing is one of the most important aspects when it comes to supporting the character’s storyline.
When does your action take place?
If you are at a football game, is it a hot afternoon or a cold winter evening? Is it your birthday? Is it a date with your significant other? The timing will affect your scene. You need to be particular in choosing a time that serves your purpose and allows to you tell your story systematically.
Let us say, It is 8 pm on a Saturday and you will have to drive your significant other back to her house in an hour but you want to stay and enjoy the game till 11 pm as tomorrow is Sunday. All of this is going to help you get a better understanding of the story and you’ll be able to give your best.
A story is the most important when it comes to acting. If your story is not engaging, the audience will lose interest. With the help of the 5 Ws, an actor can make a story interesting and relatable and will be able to master the art of storytelling.
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