Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 8/2/19

Six of us… Casey and Rob working on a table read of Cold Man. Aaron as the Pilgrim girl learning how to engage the 21st century. Andres working on a bar tender over exposed on Facebook. Jamie revealing that she was blinded in a scene from The Lobster.

THOUGHTS & ISSUES:

PRESENCE…
The is such a rich topic and we’ll pursue it in the next few weeks. I encourage all of you to see Once upon a Time in Hollywood. This film moves at such a slow pace that we have time to watch the characters in mundane tasks that reveal character and let us soak in their presence. Again this poses the question… What is the difference between character and presence ?

Aaron…

I have to keep complementing you week after week… This was set-ready work. You have a natural fit for comedy. We adjusted performance between what we can call a single camera style and a three camera style. You seem comfortable in both but the consensus was that your first choice… the smaller/single size was better. So what I’m seeing lately is a growth in your confidence… and presence. You seem completely relaxed and open to the camera even as you deliver this stylish material. The co-star one- liners and short scenes make a stylistic demand too. You have to have the confidence to get in and do your thing and then get out. Confidence is critical and we’re seeing it in these scenes. Your initial instinctive first takes have been precise and playful and portrayed both character and presence… even in the co-star of two weeks ago. I respect the way you’re using our workouts to sharpen your self submits and prep for your work in showcases. Considering the feedback you’ve been getting I’d say you are performing well under the pressure of working in front of a CD and that is going to give you confidence in their offices. Sorry you left before the second round. You have to remind me when you have time pressure so I can get you in and out. Have the confidence to do that.

Rob and Casey…

Staged script reading is a style of performance. This is not a lot different than the bigger “3 camera” adjustment we gave to Aaron… that was a style of comedy and this is too is a style. Auditions are better with physicality as we see in our workouts and staged readings are too. But… you can act from your chair. If your body knows where it is in the script you can communicate some of that to the audience. Sitting in a chair does not mean you have to be still and you’re body can relate to and express where you are. We sit on a dock differently than we sit in a class. When readers have no connection to where they are through your presence… then the audience tunes out. And you can/must push your verbal impulses to a bigger presence to compensate for the fact that you’re all seated. Often in readings when a character enters a scene or a new scene starts without some narrator intro(Without an opening beat… a sound or a physical move)the audience will not immediately see who’s in the scene and they get disoriented. You need a beat, a sound, a word to allow them to shift their focus to the new scene. Or… and this I think is the best solution. You move the two characters together while the narrator reads the stage directions. Over all comment… you need a brighter/bigger verbal style to engage them over time. Simply put… you have to push a bit to hold the attention in a seated reading.

Jamie…

Presence… you have a vulnerability that allows the camera in. We pushed her to a little more cheerful opening in her attempt to fool him and to set up the reveal that she was blinded. This is a case of letting the scene do you. You’re talent allows you to settle right into the life. What we pushed for was allowing the life to put emotional demands on you so we can watch you change as the scene progresses. She has to be dreading telling him she’s blind… so the arc is first hiding that secret, then encountering a moment where she decides that she has to confess, and finally the emotional wave that follows her confession. All these things must happen to you and you’re openness (presence) will allow us/the camera in so we can empathize and experience that emotional arc with you.

You can’t determine ahead that you’re going to do the scene a certain way. Rather you must prepare yourself emotionally with the same dread as the character would have… and then let the scene do something to you. We allowed you a long prep time outside to get you to ras-le-bol… being emotionally full so that the scene could make those emotions spill out. We allowed for thoughtful moments where you can’t say what you want. This technique connects you to the character’s thoughts and fears. I know of no more useful tool when exploring scenes that demand tears. If you take a beat and want to say something but you can’t… the tears will come.

So…

  1. Prep yourself emotionally then
  2. drop into the scene and
  3. let it effect you.

Simple approach but it takes prep and the confidence to just throw yourself into the the life… “and the net will appear.” (Thanks to Jane Cameron and the Artist’s Way.)

Andres…

Really good initial work… as this was almost a cold read. I’m not sure if the character is set in stone yet. I have almost nothing but questions… but maybe that’s where you should be at this moment in exploration. I think it’s important to find this guys sense of humor. Don’t know where you’ll find it. But look. Maybe the best place to look is the first scene. He’s a lead in a comedy. They’re gonna have to write a lot of stuff for this guy. “Intelligence is the ultimate aphrodisiac, and… Sense of humor IS the largest erogenous zone.”

  • Maybe try a run thru playing him as really smart… that’s an interesting idea ! Like he’s NASA engineer-smart about brewing beer. And still macho on top of that smart.
  • What if he fell in love with her the moment he saw her. Or what if she reminded him of someone else?
  • Why does he name her another ? What does that mean to him? and to her? I didn’t get that line.

2nd scene
Righteous indignation and anger is absolutely justified… but anger is the almost always the result of being hurt. The quest is to find the best way to express it… the pain.

  • How would that 2nd scene play if he wasn’t leaving?… If he was sitting waiting to talk to her. She see’s his packed bag so she can say that where you going line.
  • Can that scene play without anger? Or trying to control it… successfully or not… maybe with humor and/or irony?
  • What did you learn from the Spanish… if anything. Because that first scene in Spanish was a crowd fav.

Both scenes looked good on tape.
I don’t disagree with precision on the words… but when creating character you have to explore… and then go back to the lines as written.
Nothing but questions…. but all this is meant to enrich what you had last night. It was good work.