Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 6/11/13

Five of us tonight… Dominic as the skeptical ghostbuster.  Zahn having a serious bout of indigestion.  Katherine the naughty librarian.  Gaby the prima dona and also as another witness to the apocalypse.
Some nice work done tonight. There were some really good takes.

Dominic…

Great process…. exploration and discovery.  You found the path… the life and the flow of the scene very quickly.  I must say… You looked more confident and comfortable in the physical environment too.  We were exploring the character.  Interesting that we found both his skepticism and his believer sides.  He believes in ghosts, but is skeptical of this particular situation  Maybe what we thought was the lack of focus in the writing was this split.   The one consistent element was making him a little of an ass… and that definitely sets him up to get a knife in the hand.  The English accent question is likely to be long with you…. and you seem to have a good awareness of it.  There was universal agreement that we were hearing little or none of it.  So…. better it should become a positive thing…. more creative.  I look forward to you bringing in some slower dramatic material so we can observe the area that challenges you and makes you uncomfortable.  Using class to work on an audition is such a great process.  You get to watch your early work and sculpt your performance and we get to see current material and watch it develop.  How do you change from English ease to American swagger and not lose humor? Learn…. Rehearse and explore in English…. and then just do it American.  I’m sure that’s the right process or you start hearing yourself.

Katherine…

Very nice.  You are consistently bringing a calm confident presence to your work.  Your prep has been outstanding so taking adjustments and direction has been a snap for you.  Last night you confessed that you had thought about the sirens and then decided not to use them. Your first instinct was right.  The sirens added a sense of urgency and importance to the scene…. and once you had that…. it was a much more interesting slice of life.  AND it allow you to throw in an improv’d line and all those great sounds.  In other words… you played.  The feeling of confidence and presence you are now feeling in our workouts is the bar for you.  This is the level that you have to get to be be able to audition/perform.  I checked some past notes to you….. A recurring issue is eliminating important scenic elements… like the sirens, an Ipod, werewolf hearing ……. things that are significant to the life of the scene.   Stage directions.   Just make sure you use an element actively before you ignore it.  I think that’s coming from an over concentration on your lines and not enough imaginative visualizing.  You need to see the whole scene in your learning/work/prep and use all the elements that function or define a scene.  It’s really just concentrating more on the life.  But what that does…..  is allow you to play within the confines/structures of the words. The words are the notes, but you still have to play the music.  And when you played tonight…. the scene came alive.

Gaby…

First of all your prep was very strong…. for both characters.  PRIMA… yeah she’s a great character for you.  She’s strong and opinionated and has significant attitude….. “It’s not porn!”  A bit of a cliche perhaps but when you do her…. she’s yours alone… your prima.  I loved the distinction we found between angry and bitchy.  A bitch is always a bitch and that’s her character.  But she’s even worse when she’s angry…. which is a reaction to something in the scene.  So what we saw last night was a bossy(read bitchy) chick who got mad at the guys in the scene.   The apocalypse girl was a pure emotional scene.  We really know little or nothing about her…. except that she’s in this frightful situation.  When you amped up the emotions in that last take it just jumped off the page.  I think this is perhaps what you felt was unreal… it’s just technique.  Don’t belittle technique… especially when it works.  The acting world puts all too much importance on how it feeeeels to you as the performer.  My response is why are you monitoring your feelings and judgements about your work. You’re supposed to be concentrating on the life.  Reserve your judgement till you see it.  When you know so little about the character and the relationships you must rely on your technique.  You should be happy…. your technique was effective.

Zahn…

What a great adjustment.  You took a 180 adjustment…. from drama to comedy… and made it look easy.  This is a dramedy style of writing/performance and it values bitter irony rather than real pain.  So after a terrible accident you don’t moan “I lost my foot”… but rather you get to say something snarky like, “Well at least now I only have to buy one shoe.”  LOL !  Not really.   It’s certainly a new and pervasive style.  Imagine how far ahead you’ll be when they finally write an Indian with a sense of humor.  I love it that you’re bring in such different stuff.  It’s exercise… cross training… and it makes you stronger.  You laughed a bit in the last take…. I think the impulse is right… but that feeling can only be expressed with a dry tone.  These characters see how funny things are but the would never be so uncool as to laugh.  It’s a gen X or millennial humor.