Transitioning From The Stage To The Screen For The First Time

The theater is perhaps the most oldest form of written expression, being performed physically in front of the admiring world, in a bid to tell a story. The ancient Greeks were the first to develop this part of our civilization, and so, their seating and grounds have been largely copied and spread throughout the world.

A stage actor is a totally different animal from that which acts purely on-screen. The theater is alive; it’s live in front of people who are watching your every move, and especially, your body language. It’s more of a two-way street because it’s like having a conversation with the audience.

It’s a job opening that you shouldn’t miss even though for on-stage actors to try to adapt to being filmed, it can be difficult to adjust to a different acting environment altogether.

Anyone who has tried a stage to screen transition can tell you, the little things make all the difference and more so, psychologically, you need to prepare yourself differently too.

The environment

When you’re acting in a play, the acting environment is electric. As the doors are flung open to the theater, the crowd slowly builds up, and more and more people fill the seats, creating a sea of expectant faces. It’s not like that on set; you’ll be by yourself for the most part as you’re expected to go through a lengthy makeup session, go through your lines and talk to the director one-on-one.

It can work hard for actors to adjust to this style, because it may not feel like a team task, and you’re kind of left on your own to figure things out. There is also a much more pronounced hierarchy than in theater productions. There are certain people who you will be expected to leave alone, like the lead actors and the set operators like lights and cameras.

Normally, in theater you might have a say to make yourself feel comfortable, so live performance pressures subside, but filming is the exact opposite with total control under the director’s thumb.

Expressing emotions

Intimate expressions of pain, anguish, sorrow, happiness, and joy are most powerfully expressed by the projection of your voice in theater as the audience sitting at the back, may not see your face clearly.

However, you can learn the subtle difference in working the camera and interacting with other actors simultaneously to achieve your aims. The benefit of acting classes online by experts who have worked in notable television series is that you’ll learn who to bounce off the projected image you’re transferring to the camera, while also using your emotions to gauge a reaction from your fellow actors on-screen.

It can seem like the camera is miles away and that the viewers who switch on every night of the show, are even further. But always remember to visualize the audience, and place more emphasis on the philosophical conundrums as the ancient Greeks did.

When you’re transitioning from the stage to the screen for the first time, it’s your big break. You’re entering into a new world of occupation and financial prospects.

But, remember to hone your craft and most of all, adapt. Use what you’ve learned, and just tweak it, so you transfer your skills that you possess in theater, to what seems like an empty camera.

This post has been contributed by Ryan Gatt, it may contain affiliate links.


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