The Surprising Similarities Between Acting and Writing: Tools You Can Use

Andrew Ngin
8 min readJun 3

Back in my previous life as a television writer, I had just finished writing the pilot script for a brand new local English comedy titled Under One Roof. I had stayed up till 4 am in the morning putting the finishing touches on a comedic monologue, a story that will be performed by the father character in the show. This story will eventually become a signature item in the series, as the father would summarize and end nearly every episode with a story beginning with “Long long time ago…”.

Much was riding on this first speech. Even more was riding on the performance of the actor. If the actor pulled it off, more of such stories will be written. If the actor failed, well, consider it a worthy experiment as the writer slinks off behind the curtain to work on his craft again.

I remembered turning in the script, and then heading down to the set to watch the rehearsals, and finally watching it live on stage as the actor Moses Lim performed the monologue.

Worry gnawed at my insides, but my tummy ache cleared when 3 things happened -

The actor brought the house down.

He did not change a single word.

His performance reaffirmed that my writing worked, thus earning my eternal gratitude.

Not only did he utter every word as written, but he also performed the story, added small physical gestures that were not written into the script, and adjusted the tone of his voice to fit the pace of the story he was telling.

He took what were black squiggles on the page and brought them to vibrant life. It was a wonderous alchemy, transmuting the words of an author into a living, breathing performance on stage.

But was it really alchemy, or was there a method to his craft?


I am a third of the way through a book titled The Method — How the 20th century learned to act — by Isaac Butler. It is a fascinating read. If you have ever wondered how an Actor is able, as if by magic, to cry on command, or move you to tears with a genuine and realistic performance on stage or screen, this book will take you to the origin of how the magic came to be.

Andrew Ngin

Man In The Arena . Once a lecturer. Written television, films, short stories. Older. Singaporean. Still writing. Always with love