ACTING TECHNIQUE | Remember Your ABCs

By Webmaster

  • ACTING TECHNIQUE

    Remember Your ABCs:

    Always
    Be in
    Character!

    (By Carmichael Phillips)


    (Photo: Sigmund | Unsplash)

    If you’ve ever seen David Mamet’s 1992 film, Glengarry Glen Ross, you’ll recall the famous acronym that was described in it, the ABCs of selling. According to the film, for a salesperson, the ABCs stood for: Always Be Closing. In other words, a salesperson should concentrate their actions on moving the customer to make a purchase.

  • For actors, a good ABCs acronym would be: Always Be in Character. In other words, just because your character doesn’t have lines to say at a given moment, doesn’t mean you stop acting.

    An actor must never mentally “check out” of the scene. Whether your character has an upcoming line to say or not, you must always be in character.

    Entering the scene 

    Your character’s life doesn’t magically begin when you enter the stage or when you first appear on camera. They’ve already had a life going on, prior to that moment.


    Prior to entering the scene, you should already be in character


    Is your character angry with her husband? Is your character upset that he couldn’t find a parking space? Did your character just finish having dinner or making love? Is your character drunk?

    Prior to entering the scene, you should already be in character; already experiencing the range of emotions that have impacted your character’s mood that day.

  • Listening to the other characters 

    Your character ALWAYS has lines. There are lines that they speak audibly and there are lines that they speak INTERNALLY.

    As Michael Caine’s teacher once told him after he claimed his character had no lines:

    “He said, ‘Of course, you’ve got things to say. You’ve got wonderful things to say. But you sit there and listen, think of these extraordinary things to say, and then, decide not to say them. THAT’S what you’re doing!’”

    If you’re daydreaming with a blank expression on your face, while other actors are speaking, then you’re not in the moment. You’re not in character.

    Your character doesn’t become a zombie when the other characters are speaking. Your character should be listening, processing information, reacting and thinking.

    Always be in character, even while other characters are speaking.

  • Exiting the scene 

    (Photo: Mart Production | Pexels)

    Your character doesn’t physically die when they exit the scene. So, why should they die mentally and emotionally? Why shouldn’t they be mentally gearing up for their next task, even though the audience doesn’t know what their next task is?

    As Samuel L. Jackson once put it:

    “Whenever you’re on stage, you’re coming from somewhere and you’re going somewhere when you leave.”


    Whenever you’re on stage, you’re coming from somewhere and you’re going somewhere when you leave.

    (Samuel L. Jackson)


    “Do you want people to go with you when you go? You hit that moment! And when you leave, everybody’s like, ‘Well, shit! I wanna go with him! Where’s he going?’”

    Jackson also said:

    “Every time the camera passes you, always look like there’s something on your mind. Don’t be standing there waiting on your (cue) line.”

  • Off-stage or off-camera 

    Even while off-stage or off-camera, you should at least have some connection to your character’s unseen life.

    How do they dress in the morning? What kind of socks and underwear do they wear? What do they eat for breakfast? What’s their level of hygiene? What’s their outlook on life? Where do they work? What does your character do in their free time? What time do they normally go to bed?

    In your mind, your character is a real human being. Don’t “check out” of a scene, just because you don’t have lines or because you’re leaving the scene.

    Always Be in Character!


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