Cosplay Performances: Knowing your Role

14 Sep , 2011,
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Now that you’ve got a killer script and an audio capsule prepped for your cosplay performance, we’re gonna talk a little bit about role-playing.

Before you can strut your stuff and dazzle the stage, you’ve got to overcome the first hurdle – that nasty Q&A component that’s gonna test your ability to think on your feet – to portray your character without fumbling or looking like a complete goof.

After all, even if you’re looking fly in your cosplay togs and you’ve got a horde of adoring fans waiting to vote you to victory, messing up with the RP monster’s gonna ruin your competition chances, especially if it’s a major scoring component.

Keeping in-character is integral to cosplay. The minute you take to the stage, you’re no longer Johnny Milquetoast, cosplayer extraordinaire, but <INSERT NAME HERE>, the character you’re kitted out to be.

You adopt <INSERT NAME HERE>’s gait, mannerisms and personality traits, heightening the illusion and creating suspension of disbelief. You’re even expected to answer questions IN CHARACTER.

1. It’s a trap! 

It’s the task of the emcee to poke chinks in your carefully constructed veneer, and one of the first traps they tend to lay before you goes something like “What character are you cosplaying?”

It’s a trick question, and it’s foiled even cosplay veterans, as recent competition vids [1] [2] from TGX would attest. It’s a great way to catch you off guard, especially if your mind’s drawing a complete blank and you’re freezing in front of the audience due to stage fright.

Be cheeky, be coy, but never, ever answer this question with “I’m cosplaying <INSERT NAME HERE>”. Instead, poke fun at the emcee, play with the judges, and demonstrate your 1337 acting skills by behaving just as the character would if he were in your predicament.

Remember to ham it up, because you’re racking up points when you do.

2. Is that a big sword you’ve got there, or are you just happy to see me?

What are some other potential pitfalls to watch out for?

For one, if you’re asked about a particular prop, or why you like a costume, be sure to give it a bit of thought before you answer.

Saying “Oh, I really love the character” or “I like the character’s outfit very much” is a big no-no because you ARE the character, and that dress or the prop you’re toting is something indispensable in <INSERT NAME HERE>’s arsenal.

If the emcee’s on the ball, he’ll play right along.

3. Role playing. It makes all the difference.

It’s not all that difficult to get in character. It’s a simple matter of practice, practice and practice.

An easy exercise goes something like this:

a. Start by making a list of <INSERT NAME HERE>’s base traits. Is he craven or brash? Is he confident to the point of arrogance, or is he shy and bashful?

b. Next, try acting the same way for an extended period of time. Keep at it for an hour each day, or if you’re really confident about it, do it for an entire day at a go.

c. Pick one attribute at a time. When you feel like you’ve mastered it, move on to another.

Gradually, you’ll find that channeling the character’s not all that hard, and that you can fall into the role pretty easily. When that happens, you’ll be able to make the connection almost instantaneously, and you’ll never be caught flat footed on stage again.

So get to practicing, guys, and don’t forget to let us know if this helps at all.

Until next time, cosplay friends. Cheerio!