Allen Fitzpatrick, pictured here playing Richard III, has been an actor on stage and in film and television for 35 years. Chris Bennion

“Acting is hands-down the most competitive business in the world. There are 50,000 union actors. In any given year, only one out of three gets any stage work at all—and three-quarters of those working actors earn less than $15,000.”

Allen Fitzpatrick (Col ’75) on the phone from New York, where he is acting in a Broadway production of Driving Miss Daisy with Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones.

Allen Fitzpatrick’s Guide to Preparing for a Role

  1. Familiarize yourself with the character through the text of the play.
  2. Figure out what motivates the character in general, then figure out what the character wants in each scene.
  3. Find out what one shares with the character and use one’s own traits and experiences to create a reality for the character. If there are things about the character that you don’t share, find emotional substitutes that you can relate to.
  4. Try out a character’s verbal or physical tics. How does the character walk?
  5. Your incarnation of a character will grow with rehearsal until it melds with your own personality. “I find that I can’t schizophrenically be someone else for my hours on stage,” says Fitzpatrick. “I find the character in myself. I play it so it feels real.”