Actors, It’s Halloween Time!
Use these acting tips to create the best character ever!
The weather in Georgia has finally cooled off. All around us shorts give way to pants, sandals to boots, and tank tops to chunky sweaters. Giant skeletons are now seen hovering over yards, and pumpkins can be found as decorations and in coffee alike. That’s right, autumn is here and Halloween is just around the corner. Kids wait in anticipation to collect enough candy to last them a year while adults make plans for haunted houses and themed parties. No matter your age, one thing that everyone who participates in Halloween needs is a good costume.
Join us this month as we dive into the essentials of building a scarily creative character to impress your friends this Halloween.
Dressing up for Halloween is a tradition as old as the holiday itself. The earliest beginnings of Halloween came from the Celts dating back over 2,000 years. Back then, it was more of a celebration for the coming New Year on November first and included sacred bonfires, crop sacrifices, and hopes of renewal. Costumes looked a bit different as well usually consisting of animal heads or skins. Thankfully costumes options grew as the years went on.
In America Halloween as we know it really gained popularity between the years 1920-1950. Costumes got an upgrade from what the Celtics wore to handmade masks, beings like witches or mummies, and more domesticated animals like cats. Store-bought costumes were also becoming more popular by the 50s so people could go out and just buy their desired outfit instead of hoping their DIY skills would do the trick.
While some of these classic Halloween costumes are still used or seen in this modern era, most current costume inspirations come from characters of our favorite TV shows and movies. A quick Google search for popular Halloween costumes this year will show you ideas for characters from “Barbie”, “Wednesday”, and “The Super Mario Bros.” Some sites will give you a list of where you can buy each item, others will show you how to make it yourself.
As I dove into this year’s top Halloween costumes, I couldn’t help but think about the importance of details. Of course someone could don themselves in all black add a pointed hat and call themselves a witch, but to make it really believable you’d need:
Some witchy makeup
Nails to match.
Perhaps even a wand or a broom to really sell the look…
Add in the details of a witch’s cackle and some memorized spells to spout, and now you’ve really become a witch that will scare all who come across you! But what if a scary witch is not your thing? There are so many ways to portray a character, and the way that we bring our vision to life is through the details!
This is also the same for actors. Since our October theme here at TAS is “Transformative”, this author could think of no better topic than COSTUMES. As actors it is incredibly important that we know the characters we play inside and out. When we are cast in a role it is up to us to discover all the facts about the character found within the script and then make decisions about our character based upon those given truths.
Who is this character?
Where do they come from?
What has lead them to the point where we meet them in the script?
What is their purpose in this script?
Answering questions like this will help us know our character and therefore build details to help us play the character with CONFIDENCE.
This internal work is so incredibly key, but does nothing for an actor if they aren’t able to add the external work: posture, movements, and most importantly… look.
Take Jenna Ortega’s performance as Wednesday Addams in Netflix’s “Wednesday”. It is clear she took the time to dig into who the character is and answer all the necessary questions; resulting in a perfect performance as a serious, torture-loving, determined Wednesday. But what if we took away the physical details added to her character: her dark braids, black dress, and serious expression? What if they had put her in something bright, gave her colorful hair, and had her smile constantly? The character would no longer work and Wednesday Addams would cease to exist.
Costuming also plays a huge part in world building. A great example of this is Effie Trinket, played by Elizabeth Banks, in “The Hunger Games”. Effie come from The Capital, high society and lots of money. In her very first scene, before she even says a single line, one can already tell that she does not fit into District 12 (a destitute coal-mining community) simply from what she is wearing. Her outfits are brilliantly tailored, dyed in bright colors, and accessorized with embellished jewelry and hats. This against the plain, drab, simplistic style of the people in District 12 shows the complete separation between their world and Effie’s. Through the details on costuming alone, the audience is able to see the divide between those who live in Districts and those who live in the Capital.
Costuming becomes extra essential when doing a biopic. Oppenheimer came out this year with a bang. With an incredible script, a list of talented A-list actors, and of course Christopher Nolan’s vision, Oppenheimer has had positive reviews since it’s first preview. A huge part of the positive response goes to costume designer Ellen Mirojnick. In an interview with IndieWire she speaks to her work: “Oppenheimer never changed his silhouette from the time he began at Berkeley through the decades. That was a very, very important note to zero in on”. And zero in on it she did! Instead of changing his look drastically as the years when by, she kept him in the same style and the same silhouettes following his real life style choices. Capturing these small, but specific details is what brings the reality of the character to the screen.
This year as you dress up for Halloween think about how the costume you put on transforms you into your character. What details are you adding to truly portray the character? If you find that you love dressing up and playing a part, check out some of our classes here at TAS. We can guide you to finding how to make your internal character match your external character.
And from all of us at TAS, have a Happy and safe Halloween!
Ready to get started? Reach out today!
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About The Author
Kirsten Krehbiel is an Atlanta based actress, director, and writer who enjoys bringing people new truths through the art of storytelling. She has a love of acting both on camera and on stage, having been lucky enough to be a part of incredible productions in both worlds. Kirsten joined the TAS team in 2020 as a coach, a job she loves because it lets her watch first hand as students grow and gain self confidence as actors. When she is not creating or coaching, you can find Kirsten hanging out with her grumpy cat on their back porch.
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