I am so humbled to have a fourth year Strathmore University student taking up a Bachelor in Business Science-Financial Economics and also a member of the school’s drama society, called The Strathmore Drama Society (DRAMSOC) do a case study on me as part of her project.
Jacinta Wachira interviewed me on use of my personal resources before and during a production as part of her course work at an acting workshop. She wanted to find out how I engage my imagination, observation, concentration and sensory awareness during rehearsals and during the actual staging/shooting of the production. ..deep eh??
Well below are the findings of that study she did on yours truly and I thought I’d share it with you in the hope you might learn something new that will assist in your acting career or create a discussion on the topic and we can learn together.
REPORT ON THE UTILIZATION OF AN ACTOR’S PERSONAL RESOURCES
CASE STUDY: GERALD LANGIRI
This report aims to investigate the application of observation, imagination, concentration and sensory awareness before, during and after a production, both film and theatre. The actor under study is Gerald Langiri, an award winning Kenyan actor and casting director.
This report was commissioned by Nick Muthama, facilitator of The Strathmore Drama Society’s first acting workshop.
The information was collected by means of an email correspondence, between 16th February, 2015 and 19th February, 2015. The subject of the email was dubbed “Inquiry on use of actor’s personal resources”.
Background of Gerald
34 year old Gerald is a well-known thespian in the Kenyan acting industry. He is well known for his role of Harrison in ‘House of Lungula’ and Joseph in the film ‘Fundimentals’. In addition to the many nominations he has received, Mr Langiri’s role as Nicodemus in TV series ‘Stay’ saw him win the “best supporting actor in a TV series” at the Kalasha Film and Television Awrds 2014 (Langiri, Biography, 2015). Other projects he has taken part in are, but not limited to, Mali, State House, Papa Shirandula and Risper.
In addition to his acting career which goes way back to the year 2011, Gerald is the founder and administrator of an award winning blog, www.actors.co.ke. The blog’s focus is on the acting industry in Kenya.
As a casting director, Gerald has taken part in productions such as ‘VEVE’ and ‘Going Bongo’, amongst other TV series and commercials.
Mr Langiri is not only a professional actor who has received training from Hollywood actor and couch, David Morin and Neil Schell, but also an IT expert with an undergraduate in the same field from the University of Huddersfield. (Gerald Langiri, 2015)
This resource can be defined as the ability to form new images and sensations in the mind through senses i.e. sight, smell, touch, taste and sound (Muthama, 2015).
The question posed to the renowned thespian was as follows:
What do you think about when doing a script analysis? How do you go about forming your character and actually ‘getting into character’?
Gerald felt as though an actor’s work is always eased by a well written script. He added that everything to do with character formation occurs when one analytically goes through the script at hand. He insisted on the need for attention to details such as the placement of a comma, an exclamation mark amongst other punctuation marks. Gerald felt as though the only way to deliver what was on the author’s mind was by doing a deep analysis of the text. He confessed that was his trick to not only get his lines, but also to deliver them in the way it is expected.
He noted the importance of a good director, citing that he/she is a key resource needed to bring out a character to life. Gerald would ask questions in situations where he did not know how to deliver and in some cases, a good director would aid him accordingly. He added, “If my character resembles a character that exists, then I go study that character and try to embody them. I however also bring a little bit of myself into characters to make them uniquely me”. (Langiri, Inquiry on actor’s personal resources, 2015)
This resource may be defined as the power of seeing and taking notice of one’s environment. (Muthama, 2015).
The question posed to the thespian was as below:
Do you find yourself indirectly understudying characters in real life that you are expected to epitomize on stage? How long does that take you? What challenges do you face while doing so?
Gerald noted that he believed the mark of a good actor was someone who had lived life, someone who had gone through pain, anger, hunger, joy, love, bitterness, envy and all the other adjectives that define human emotion. If not, then that actor had to be very observant of their surroundings and to a greater extent understand human behaviour. He added that he himself had lived life and was also fascinated by human psychology to the point that he had wanted to study it but not being able to do so, he read books on the subject to give him a better picture on human behaviour. He however said that for those not so interested in psychology, observation would be the next best thing. When in a restaurant, a matatu, in town, school or wherever there is a social gathering and even with family and friends, he recommended the studying of other people’s behaviours. Gerald said the observation process never ends. “It is”, he said, “a repetitive daily routine of human study and humans being unpredictable there is always something new to learn”. He added that this kind of observation didn’t mean that one ought to end up acting exactly as observed, rather it ought to serve as a guideline on how to act.
This may be defined ability to focus and pay attention. (Muthama, 2015).
The question posed was as below:
How does this personal resource come into play pre-production? And is it a difficult resource to utilize? Are there any mental practices you engage your brain in to improve on this?
Concentration, Gerald noted, depends on the character he is playing and the scene. There are scenes where deep thought and concentration are required and others where he takes a laissez faire approach. He admitted there was difficulty in utilizing this particular resource because one is forced to tap into emotions that he/she may not want to tap into at a particular time.
This may be defined as the ability to use one’s common senses.
The question posed was as follows:
How do you engage your 5 senses while on set such that your performance appears as real as we the audience see it?
With regards to this resource, Gerald said the following, “…Once you understand your character well enough you do not even have to engage your senses, they just kind of engage themselves…” (Langiri, Inquiry on actor’s personal resources, 2015)
To give a sterling performance as does Gerald in his productions, one ought to engage his/her personal resources. Imagination, Observation, Concentration and Sensory awareness are all very important before and during the shooting or staging of a production.
In deed it goes without saying that the journey to a successful staging of any production starts in the actor’s mind. Once he is able to employ his four main personal resources, showcasing a believable character is almost inevitable.
I feel as though it may be important for those going through scripts to employ interpretive reading skills. This may help the actor familiarize himself with the character expected to epitomize.
Also, as the saying goes, “perfect preparation prevents poor performance”. In as much as one may be aware of the resources needed to be employed before a production, he/she needs to prepare sufficiently well. From knowing the meaning of words to understanding the meaning of sentences, no stone should be left unturned while preparing for a production. And as Gerald said, every comma, every exclamation mark, every full stop is worth taking note of.
Gerald Langiri. (2015). Retrieved from IMDb: www.imdb.com/name/nm6142023
Langiri, G. (2015). Biography. Retrieved from Gerald Langiri| Official Website: www.geraldlangiri.com/bio/
Langiri, G. (2015, February 18). Inquiry on actor’s personal resources. (J. Wachira, Interviewer)
Muthama, N. (2015). Acting Workshop. Nairobi, Kenya.