Ebony Feare: 5 tips for creating a non-human character
Ebony Feare trained at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and has worked in theatre, television and radio since graduating. She is currently playing the Tortoise in Pied Piper’s touring production of Hare and Tortoise which completes its tour at the Lyric Hammersmith in February 2018
1. Look at the detail
If you are playing an animal, do your research and start – if possible – by observing them. Go to a zoo or simply study the animal on YouTube. Look at its posture, energy, how it eats and walks. Ask yourself how does its skin feel? Does it have a tail? Be sure to study everything down to the tiny details. Then make a human version of that non-human character.
2. Study the movement
Movement is the key to bringing your character to life. Your research will give you ideas about how to create the character’s physicality. Look, for example, at what point of the body you want to use as the leading point for walking. For Tortoise, I lead with my head and my body follows from there – this dictates how I walk as the character.
3. Animate your Voice
The energy of your character should influence how you use your voice. From working with the slow energy of my character I felt comfortable using my voice in my low range, elongating words and enjoying long pauses. For further effect, I always try inserting actual noises my non-human would make.
4. Get in Costume
Rehearsing in costume really helps to develop the physicality of your character. Knowing my costume and working with it alongside key props in rehearsals allowed me to feel comfortable in my role and to make the transition to non-human far easier.
5. Define your Character
It always helps to highlight specific habits or movements of any character you are playing. When playing a non-human character, these are informed by the details researched and then creatively embodying these movements into the characterisation. This definition and specificity provides an anchor for both me and the audience to understand more about who that character is.