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Adam Rohan

Acting Skills Written Reflection

My two directorial pieces I performed in were Harold Pinter’s, 1978 hit, ‘Betrayal’ where I portrayed
the character of ‘Jerry‘. My second was Sam Steiner’s, 2015, play ‘Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons
Lemons’ where I portrayed the character ‘Oliver’. Pinter’s ‘Betrayal’ was the most challenging, and I
had to do lots of work to create a character of Jerry I was happy with.

When it came to working on Pinter’s ‘Betrayal’, I had to go completely out of my comfort zone as I
was playing a man who was a man having an affair with his best friends wife. Trying to understand
the objectives of my character, and what type of person he was, was very challenging and I had to
look into many practitioners to feel satisfied. To understand all of the characters better I firstly read
the play,1 and then decided to look into Pinter and what inspired this play. This was provoked due to
looking into Konstantin Stanislavsky as he would demand that his actors study the play and get
behind the authors mentality and main ideas.2 From my research I discovered that the play was built
upon a real affair that Pinter had with a BBC presenter Joan Bakewell which spanned for seven
years.3 This information was very useful for me as I realised that the play was loosely built around
real events. From this I used the Stanislavski technique of emotional recall to create a realistic
character. Thinking of a strong personal memory helped got me in the headspace of the romantic
that Jerry was. Further research helped me discover that Jerry was a middle class writer and forty
years old.4 Having background information before the rehearsal process was very useful as I already
had a sense of my character and what type of person he was. Looking at Jean Sabatine’s book,5 I was
also able to understand that your state of mind and body have to be in harmony when it comes to
action on the stage.

When rehearsals began, I used the Stanislavski again and his system of building a character. I
discovered that actions on stage are very important, ‘An action on stage, if it has no purpose, merely
diverts the audience’s attention from the essence of the play.’6 From this I learnt that each of my
actions must have purpose and an objective, using your mind like Sabatine said helped me to do this.
When rehearsing this became very clear by the first exercise we did, where our director put me and
my pier face to face and gradually built us up to do a stage kiss on the first day. Before the kiss
though, he asked us to keep eye contact for as long as possible, and denying and embracing each
other whilst asking us questions such as ‘what does your character want?’, ‘How do they feel
towards the other character?’ and ‘Why?’. This was really helpful in getting an insight into the
character of Jerry and helping us to feel more comfortable with each other. It also helped us become
the characters we wanted to portray just as Stanislavski said it would. Lots of my directors
techniques included eye contact, creating an intensity and trust between me and my pier which we
could use with our characterisation.

Focusing on voice was my next obstacle. Focusing on tone and pitch was very important and I
worked on this by reading my lines out load and trying to understand where those words were
coming from inside. However, the biggest obstacle was trying not to overact the accent given. The
play takes place between middle class individuals, this meant that I had to go from my natural
accent, which is very common, to a well pronounced RP. Being trained in exaggerated acting and
comedy, such as the work of Steven Berkoff, I struggled to portray a character of naturalism. Berkoff
said that the purpose of a script was to ‘minimalise and physicalise’ a story, stripping it down to its

1
https://www.dramaonlinelibrary.com/plays/betrayal-iid-134555/do-9780571291793-div-00000010
2
‘The Stanislavski system the training of an actor’ by Sonia Moore
3
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betrayal_(play)
4
https://www.enotes.com/topics/betrayal/characters
5
Sabatine, Jean. Movement Training for the stage and screen (A &C Black1995)
6
‘The Stanislavski system the training of an actor’ by Sonia Moore
Adam Rohan
Acting Skills Written Reflection

basics.7 I had to forget what I had been taught and move towards a more naturalistic tone of voice.
Overacting, especially with my voice, would distract the audience from the illusion trying to be
created. Watching tutorials on YouTube8 and practicing with my director also helped me to
understand the pronunciation of some words I was struggling with. I also looked into the use of
voice in the modern theatre and how people respond differently to methods of speech training.9
This was helpful as I was able to see many different views in the voice industry and how different
practitioners use different methods to create the type of voice needed.

On the day of the performance many obstacles occurred that were not planned. My director realised
that the piece was a little too long, so we had to change and cut lines very close to the day of the
show. When my nerves kicked in I accidently started to say a cut line during the piece, I recovered by
correcting the line with the improvisation tools that I had learnt in a previous module.10
Furthermore, in the performance there was a scene where I exited the stage through some curtains.
However, the curtains were moved and I couldn’t get off stage, acting quickly I stood still with my
back to the audience, still on stage. From this I managed not to make a scene and distract from the
scene. I was able to act in such a professional manner through my experience performing
improvisation and on the stage of the Royal Court Theatre.

7
Steven Berkoff and the Theatre of Self Performance (Robert Cross, 2004, Manchester University Press)
8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsTHaCz3Vow
9
The Vocal Vision Views on Voice’ by leading teachers, coaches and directors
10
‘Improvisation in rehearsal’ by John Abbot