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In a Word, Vulnerable

May 2, 2012

I’m not one to ignore coincidence. When my professor was describing the performance I was working on and why I was the one who had to sing it, he used that word. Vulnerable. That same word another professor uses to describe my ability to bring out a certain pathos to all characters. The same word I used this week to describe how I am typecast to a fellow actor.

According to my thesaurus: susceptible, sensitive, exposed, tender, naked, impressionable, open, perceptive, tenuous. Vulnerable, an adjective. “Capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt”.

In short, not a word I’d use to describe myself. I like to think that I’m fairly self-reliant and capable. But when it comes to the characters I play, they are all vulnerable! They’ve been shy high school girls, abused, mental patients, children, rejected Hamlet and Babe Botrelle and all of them vulnerable. And now, I’m playing a character of myself, my vulnerable character.

I never had a “type” to speak of in high school. One show would cast me as the quiet, dutiful mother and in the next I’d be one of the Silly Girls in Beauty and the Beast. I picked up little clues, from comments made at theatre conference, the choice of songs given to me for solos but I remained without a definite type until I hit college.

I actually think it started earlier than that; it must have been when I was researching plays and songs to find audition material to take with me to college. I wasn’t the funny character actor—on the contrary, I am more suited for drama than a farce. You are definitely getting no “Dance: Ten, Looks: Three” from me. Yet, I don’t sound or look like a typical ingénue. And of late, now that I’m hitting my way out of the teen years (even if I do look like I’ll be playing a high schooler for a while yet), I’ve been playing with my actual appearance. Hair, once so very long—cut short! Added a bit of hair dye to bring out the auburn and cleaning out the wardrobe to update my look, gaining a little bit of maturity maybe? And somewhere along the way to finding myself, I stumbled across this definition, vulnerable.

In some ways, it’s actually quite nice. I can breeze through a play and pick out the characters that would be good for me. But there’s the trouble of finding a play with a vulnerable character in the first place. They are a rare breed and it complicates auditioning—I could have the best audition, but how can they cast me if there’s no role I would be suitable for? Then again, there are those rare, wonderful moments when a director creates his vision around my abilities to give me my own solo moment, a moment that requires my vulnerable type. Needless to say, I’m excited to start rehearsing that scene for my upcoming show!

Anyone else come to an epiphany about their own type or how changing your look changed how you were typecast? Has your look changed dramatically as you got older? Do share!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. California Triple-Threat permalink
    May 8, 2012 8:18 pm

    I wrote about this at the end of last year ( https://greenroomblog.com/2011/12/23/2011-its-been-a-journey/ ). Finding your type is such a journey, and the hard thing is that it will change as you change. Right now I am just figuring out my on-camera type, which is even a whole different journey! Be prepared that your type in college isn’t quite what it will be once you are out of college and in a bigger audition pool!

  2. The College Theatre Dork permalink
    May 8, 2012 9:41 pm

    Another great blog post–totally sums up my thoughts! I went in to have “the talk” with my professor last week and we talked typecasting for a bit: I may not (ever) be the pretty young ingenue/leading lady but I’d much rather be cast as your geeky and vulnerable young girl if I’m anything like Willow Rosenberg for all the fellow fans of Buffy.

    I might even have the advantage post-college when it comes to casting, because I look so young, I’ll look even younger onstage with actors over the age of 22? (Another plus pointed out by my professor, no need to hire extra people if your child actor isn’t really a child).

    I gotta say, it’s easier to hit the target when you’re not shooting in the dark! Now, to re-work the audition materials…

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