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Arts & Culture(Archives)


Behind the Curtain at Keyano Theatre - The Introverted Actor

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Have you ever wondered what makes a good actor? Or why some people are good, some people are great and some people are… not?

Maybe it has something to do with how the person is wired; are they gregarious and outgoing or thoughtful and ­­­­pensive, in other words, are they extroverted or introverted?

Simply stated, an introvert is someone who re-energizes by being alone in a lightly stimulating environment. Reading is often a favorite way for an ‘inny’ to re-energize. An ‘outty’, an extrovert, gains energy when being in a group of people with a lot of different things on the go. For example after a party an outty would be energized and excited and ready for the next bit of fun, while an inny would be drained from the social interaction and ready to relax at home.

When it comes to theatre you might think that the person with the largest stage presence and the loudest voice will be the best on stage; but in reality it will probably be whoever has the best handle of both sides of the introvert/extrovert spectrum. That said, there are some hugely famous names that pop up when searching for famous introverts; Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Barbra Streisand to name a few.

All sorts of people have graced the Keyano Theatre stage, but who lands the big roles (outstanding talent aside)? Is it the person with the huge personality who commands the audience’s attention? Or is it the thoughtful actor who thoroughly knows the character and is more inside their character’s mind then on a stage? Or does it depend on the part?

“Having been involved in theatre, both on stage and backstage for over 10 years, I have seen a lot of different types of people play a variety of roles. I think my most successful part was as Large Stone in Eurydice because I was able to really take the character and develop the internal dialogue she had,” says Kathleen McGrath, a self-proclaimed, proud introvert and theatre lover. “In my experience characters that are more internal, like Hamlet, would be best played by an introvert, while someone like the Emcee in Cabaret would require a lot of extrovert characteristics to be successful .”

As an introvert myself, in my experience our world often rewards outgoing personalities and seems to dismiss quiet thinkers, so maybe the introverted actor is actually rehearsing every day? Maybe they are practicing their theatrical skills every time they go out into the world and are ‘acting’ as extroverts? What if this extra rehearsal time is what sets the inny’s a part from the outty’s?

There are no defined answers as to what personality traits make the better actor. Like the tragedy and comedy masks often used to symbolize the theatre, introvert and extrovert are two sides of the same coin and there may just be a little bit of inny and outty in all of us. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” as Shakespeare put it. You will have to determine for yourself – inny or outty?

Try a little experiment next time you’re watching live theatre and see if you can spot a difference. For information on upcoming Keyano Theatre & Arts Centre shows check out the full list of performances at [BB4] 

Caption: Kathleen McGrath is pictured here in the front row, right side.