Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 3/19/19

Three of us… Small classes rock. Sometimes life gets in the way of our intentions.
Jackson as the creepy Economics student. Kate as the pregnant baker getting news about her Father.


The character’s words serve us two ways. They help describe the life. And tonight in both scenes we saw the first rather lifeless takes and practiced words. Our work was to discover and inhabit the life. Secondly… We use the words to express the character’s thoughts… not their words but their thoughts… what they mean… what they want… their inner life. Our learning/preparation should be about learning the character’s thoughts… not the words. If you know what the character is thinking then the words will come.

Most simply put… If your body knows where it is and what it’s doing… then it knows how to act. You have to create a Where or you’ll be left standing in a CD’s office trying to get a job.

We saw how revealing it was to do the whole scene(the life) but use your own words. Doing that exercise forces you to think… not just remember words. You’re forced to speak the thoughts that come from the life. You’re forced to listen to the other character and think and respond with what you’re thinking, feeling. Once you’ve created the framework of thought, the exact dialogue makes more sense.


You are transitioning from theater to film. You’re still working at a theater pace and focusing on words. Now… Pace doesn’t mean going fast. It means going as fast as you need… to clearly express the thoughts and feelings in the scene. Going too slow means the words become too important. There was also some working period to period. Using each period as a pause rather than as a bar between measures of music.

You asked if last week’s Natasha was too big. I felt it was. BUT you “got the laughs.” I was thinking a smaller size than everyone else. AND you can be big on camera ! Size on camera is determined by the character and the style of the show. In theater we push out to the last row. We perform the piece. In film we let the camera in. We live the scene and let the camera watch. Even if at the style of camera work is big you have to let the camera in.

Dustin Hoffman said of working on Rainman (a big character) that the challenge was to let the camera in… and that was to a character that was autistically closed off. This is more than camera consciousness (a vocabulary of actions/choreography/blocking used to tell story for the camera). You just have to let the camera in.

And lastly… on-camera we trade volume/size for intensity. I don’t think this is a big problem for you but I still see moments where you instinctively go to volume rather than intensity. As we worked you softened her, turned away and we saw pain instead of anger. Great discovery. And it physically expanded you so you didn’t have to look up… or in the other character’s eyes on every line. That’s a very subtle showing rather than just being in the life.


All exploration and learning of scenes is based on the three questions… Who What Where.

  • Who are you?
  • What are you doing?
  • What do you want?
  • WHERE are you?

WHO… he’s described as a creepy college economics major. WHAT… You want to look at the turd and then you examine it. That’s the life. And WHERE… You have to live in the physical place where the scene takes place. That grounds you. The best definition of talent… The actor’s ability to be in the scene. That’s what we work on in this class… your talent… your ability to be in the scene. And to do that you must answer and bring to life the WhoWhatWhere.

Interesting that creepy means drug dealer to you. Kate pointed out that he could have been creepy by being overly eager/helpful and cheerful. It’s the other end of the behavior spectrum but it would work. You leaned into that druggy character in the last takes and it got the laugh. Just look at Aaron’s work last week as the hippy chick and you’ll see the variety of characters that different actors brought to the work in a scene. In later takes you kept looking down on the “ whoever’s stool” line and it seemed random. It’s easy to build physical patterns without knowing. We focused on the examination of the poop and that gave you impulse and activity and grounded you in the life. For now… focus on answering the W’s and bringing them to your work.