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Acting 101: “Just Go For It” An Interview with Nikolai Osborn

Despite his busy schedule, which includes academics, intramurals, house captain responsibilities, film club, the Ad Verum, and Collingwood’s theatre program (which has just shown 12 Angry Men and 12 Angry Women), The Ad Verum recently had the opportunity to chat with grade 11 man for all seasons: Nikolai Osborn.

Considering Collingwood students are in the thick of preparing for the annual public speaking competition, and considering Osborn’s vast experience on stage, The Ad Verum thought it could get some insight into what it’s like to be in a play, and whether a man of Osborn’s expertise has any tips for would-be performers.

Nikolai, which character do you play?

In 12 Angry Men, I play Juror 10.

You have played several characters over the years. Do you have a favourite character that you’ve played?

I’d have to say Antonio Salieri. That character was different than a lot of the characters I’ve had to play. He’s a different character than I normally play. If you take Saleri and Mozart, Mozart is loud and crazy. And I usually do that myself; I’m usually like that. But Salieri is very different from me. Several times during rehearsal I’d act in a scene in a certain way and Mr. Wener would say, “No, you can’t be Nikolai.” But even though Salieri seemed normal, there was a lot of stuff going on with him.

So, you liked not being Nikolai.

I’m not Nikolai in any of these plays, but it was a very different personality than the other characters I’ve done.

Tell me more about the character you’re doing in 12 Angry Men:

The character is racist. It’s interesting because I don’t think I’m a racist person, but it’s interesting to have to play a racist and it somewhat provides a broader understanding of the term racist.

Do you prefer to play antagonists or protagonists?

I used to play protagonists in the early days. The antagonists are interesting. I don’t have a preference. It depends on the character’s personality and stuff about the character itself. Lately, I’ve been playing antagonists.

Do you memorize lines in your voice or your character’s voice?

The character develops. When I start to memorize my lines, it’s monotonous and repetitive, but as time goes on, it improves and I become the character. Hopefully, that is. I don’t know. I’m just a guy doing it…

What do you do to prepare for the performance in the weeks leading up to it? And what do you do during the week of the performance to prepare for every show?

Attending a lot of rehearsals. I don’t really miss a lot of rehearsals. As long as I know my lines I can focus on the acting rather than the lines itself.

There’s lots of nervousness before you start every play. It can be like, “Oh my gosh!” But once you get one stage, you’ve practiced it enough times, you’re on stage, and you’ll be you able to do your thing without freaking out. It’s only the anticipation that makes you nervous and excited. It’s like an excited nervousness.

Do you have any advice for people for speech day?

Just go for it. And don’t be worried about the possibilities of what could happen. If you focus on that, you’re likely to be in a tougher situation. If you don’t focus on what could happen [ex. messing up], then you can focus on making it happen!

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