Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 9/18/18

Five of us… This was a preparation class. Memorizing a scene is old fashion. You should never memorize a scene again. What we did today was learn a scene or prepare a scene. That process doesn’t consist of pounding lines into your head. We did some simple exercises and that effort explored and revealed and imprinted the path through the writing…the life…. into your body. When you build a muscle memory of the life as was we did… then you can just drop into the scene and listen and respond. Don’t memorize writing. Explore it, learn it, prepare it and then let your talent work.

My approach to both prep and performance is structured PLAY.

In theater we do PLAYS. In film we do screenPLAYS. You PLAY characters. You PLAY scenes. We PLAY music and instruments… even the radio! We PLAY sports and games. How’d the PLAY go? and of course Shakespeare’s, “The PLAYS the thing…” So what we did last night was structured PLAY. Exercises. Now that’s not to say that everything we do is fun. But great acting, music, sports and life in general is enlightened by PLAY and having fun. At it’s simplest… nothing could be more dreary or uncreative than sitting with a script and repetitiously pounding lines into your head. Stop that! It will be obvious to you that certain sections of a script will require repetition and memorizing, but those are small sections and memorizing/pounding lines must be used sparingly.

TALENT… The actor’s ability to be in the scene. You must commit to the imaginary reality of the scene and let your body be there… then all you have to do is just listen and react. That’s how I define talent… your ability to be in the scene… and I saw a lot of talent last night. That’s what I focus on as a coach. We work on processes and techniques and practices that strengthen your ability to be in the scene.

Acting requires commitment to your imagination… and if your process and exploration are strong enough you can literally just drop down into the imaginary life/the path through the scene… and that imagined reality will be stronger than the reality of the set or the CD’s office. If you think and feel and react to the circumstances of the scene we will believe you and your talent will shine.

Careful is the opposite of creative. You really must be present and move in and relate to the environment of the scene to engage our empathy. If you are nervous and careful and feel like an actor in an office trying to get it right and get a job… the audience/casting director will feel that… and they will not believe you. Your first job is to ground your body into the scenic circumstances… that means who you are and where you are, and what you’re doing. As we discussed… if you’re well prepared you can sit or stand on a CD’s mark and still be physically present in the scene. The simplest way to say this is … If your body knows where it is and what it’d doing… then it knows how to act.

One of the big moments in the scene… “She punches him in the arm.” That is a stage direction and it’s a definitive character action. You have to be playing a character that can believably punch her boyfriend in the arm. If you can’t embrace that kind of physicality then you are not creating this character. And without the punch the reactions/moments that follow will be hollow and ungrounded. I thought it very revealing how physical Aaron and to some extent Olivia were. Aaron moved boxes and looked around and was very active. This was her exploring the scene and at this point in the work on the scene you should still be exploring. As we discussed last night, even if forced to sit or stand on a mark… you can still feel and express the physicality of the life in the scene. BUT ONLY IF… you have first explored it and felt it and have created a muscle memory of the life in the scene. AND here we also learned who she was by the way you/she physically expressed herself. Simply put …was the punch believable?

Personal Notes

Jamie…

That beginning moment of how you held the script was an example of all the actors’ myths about auditions… stand still, don’t move, look at the camera, hold the script a certain way, get every word exactly, etc. But once we got beyond that you relaxed and explored and played the scene. You quit trying to do it right and instead focused on the life in the scene and your talent began to show. You used the script well(discreetly) but more than you needed. Be braver and trust your listening ! You would profit from our workouts cause you’d see a wide variety of things that work for camera and those that don’t. I hope you’re taking class consistently somewhere even if it’s not here. Actors are like athletes… they need constant working out to keep in shape and grow.

Diana…

You were being too careful both physically and verbally. However there were lots of moments when you PLAYED the scene and it came alive and your talent shown. That little hesitation in responding with lines would have disappeared with more prep. My experience is that it comes from being concerned about getting the words right… so you think about them visualize them on the page in your head before you say them. Simply doing some more speed throughs would smooth that out. The key is to just listen and respond. Don’t think about and try and remember the words. Your prep will create a muscle memory and all you have to do is trust that. I’d guess that you’re being too careful in your work. Auditions are a performance. Confidence in performance is attractive… and contagious. If you have confidence they will have confidence in you. Insecurity or carefulness gives CD’s a reason not to hire you. Our workouts would address that issue head on and promote your talent and your confidence to grow.

Olivia…

First congrats on being pinned. And on the amount of auditions you are getting. The work was good and you “leapt and the net appeared.” That indicates a confidence that will serve you well and you seemed grounded in the circumstances. My immediate thought is that this kind of audition workout is exactly what you need now. Being on camera with different material will allow you to see what you’re doing in auditions and make adjustments to how you are handling this critical part of a career. You’ll undoubtedly encounter auditions where you simply have too little time… so a process like we did today will allow you to quickly learn and prepare material so you can “leap.” These workouts will encourage you to develop a vocabulary of movement that will range from subtle looks, and thoughts and feelings and pauses all the way to slugging someone. As much as you’re auditioning you rarely get to see that work yourself. Our workouts will make that possible.

Aaron…

Great exploration. The physicality was good exploration and story telling… maybe a little too much but the instinctive reactions and the size allowed you to get it all out. watch it, and then pare it down… which is good process. Per our last Email… I Found this… comedy works for you when the humor comes out of a chaotic or dramatic situation… like the writing tonight. This was a strong comedic character. Type A smart but a little overwhelmed, emotional, and yet lovable, optimistic and cheerful. However I think the character needed more type A so we’d believe the yearbook and the punch. Simply out. I think she was too nice. She definitely wears the pants in this family, she’s strong, and she’s the Alpha. So you have the seeds for two distinct comedy personas… the nice girl of tonight and a more type A person like the law clerks and CIA agents that you’ve worked on previously.