Actor's Study Tools: Road Map
Updated: Feb 2
By Thomas Lindsay
I was recently having a discussion with Erina, president of Kp, about the 101’s of acting. She told me about a certain episode of Netflix’s The Kominsky Method in which the fictitious acting class was taught the concept of a road map. [Now, they didn’t call it by this name in the TV show, but I knew the process extremely well. My teachers always referred to this as a road map.]
My teachers always referred to this as a road map
Whenever you receive a script, take a piece of paper and create three columns.
Author - In the first column, write down everything the author says about your character. This will be the shortest column. Start with the character description, then look for hints that may or may not (depending on the playwright) be given in stage directions.
Other Characters – In the second column, write down everything other characters say about yours. Does your character’s mother say you’re weak, ambitious, or spoiled in dialogue? That kind of stuff.
Your Character - In the third column, write down everything your character says about themselves. This will likely be the longest column. What insight do they provide, through their own words, as to what kind of person they are? What strengths do they boast and what weaknesses do they admit to?
The idea behind the road map is to help the actor build a three-dimensional character. What the author envisioned, how others feel about them, and how they feel about themselves. Once those are established, it should help the actor identify what their character feels inside. In turn, reflecting directly on the sub text of the character; what the actor shows without speaking.
The more you break down a road map the more defined your performance will be. You can better choose moments because you know the character’s fears and motivations; gait and physical gestures. All in all, a very cool and useful tool. Thanks, Erina for reminding me.
Thomas Lindsay is Artistic Director of The Kirkwood Players. He has over 30 years experience as a professional actor and director. He is a member of SAG AFTRA and completed his professional training at the Ted Liss Studio in Chicago, IL.