What does it take to make it big in theatre? We asked Wolfe Bowart, two-time Australian Helpmann Award nominee as well as actor, playwright, and physical comedian. Wolfe made his debut in Malaysia with his LalaLuna production in 2016. This year, the versatile playwright’s acclaimed theatre production Letter’s End ran as part of the DiverseCity Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival 2017.
Key traits of a great performer?
Sometimes it’s luck or connections, but what is key is talent and a deep understanding of the art is craft. Perseverance, adaptability and a strong work ethic are also important.
No two people are alike. You’re one-of-a-kind and unique; so your acting, directing and writing will be unique. Through practice you'll find your unique style and voice, and you'll enjoy your art form more!
For aspiring playwrights
I encourage you to play, to make up stories, to dance, to sing, to write, to be creative. Do it because that's what we do as humans. It is a gift - share it with the world. If you like telling stories, tell stories that you yourself like. Find out what makes a good story and write many, many stories.
Don’t forget to...
Practice! Practice is a large piece of the puzzle that makes up the performing arts world. To paraphrase an old joke: a person is walking down a street in KL and asks a man, “How do you get to the National Theatre, Istana Budaya?” The man replies, “You must practice, practice, practice.”
Photo: DiverseCity 2017
For aspiring actors
Learn how to speak clearly and project your voice. Study the way animals move or a baby learns to walk, learn how to imitate voices and to share your character’s emotions so the audience understands how the character feels. Learning how to really listen and react, as well as act, is also a vital skill.
Acting from ‘the inside out’
A technique where actors recall memories of past emotions, feel them again and transfer those emotions to the character they’re playing.
Acting from ‘the outside in’
A technique where actors develop a character physically, feeling what the character is feeling and portraying the character so convincingly that the audience empathises with the character. In my early years I explored these and many other acting techniques. There’s no right way or wrong way. I encourage students to explore many different acting styles and schools of thought.
The more you do something, the easier it gets. The more skills you develop, the more you will have to draw from as an actor, playwright or director. And remember: have FUN - after all, it is called a PLAY!