Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 11th Dec 2012

Small class… they rock. Zahn as a man on the run. Katherine charming her facebook friend. Martin exploring necessexuality…. our new word. And Casey working on his Mentalists job and cold reading Katherine’s facebook friend.
No clear theme emerged in the evening. What I saw was four actors engaging their craft…. and challenging their talents. Everyone was well prepared and therefore the work was at a higher level. Most of the characters were in your wheel house…. roles that were good for you. There were different styles of writing…. novella, sitcom, episodic, movie. There’s something very satisfying about spending an evening with your fellow artists as you work on your craft.

A most satisfying evening was had by all. Thanks for all your work.

Zahn…

Back from the Wilds of New Jersey. And projecting. This was the strongest verbal presence we’ve seen in your work. Undoubtedly it has to do with being on stage doing that play for an extended time. Muscles get stronger when they’re used. Your first takes had a couple of mumbles. You self corrected after watching the takes. What I think I saw was….. the places where the words were less useful…. they were less distinct. That is….. the places where there was less intention… had less vocal support. And I think this is something that is part of process…. as we settle into the life in a scene we find more and more context/thought and impulse/response. Perhaps the places that are less settled are just earlier in process and therefore get less vocal support. We talked about the learning involved in the face to face exchange with another actor or reader…. the later stages of preparation….. and that part of the process should also determine vocal presence. Perhaps the surest measure of volume is determined by your partner being able to hear and understand you. This was a classic character for you…. Right in your wheelhouse. Some moments were illuminated by a brave use of silence. Perhaps the next take we would have recreated that impulse to loud anger… but contained it. I liked adding the fear as an adjustment because it provided more of an arc. You feel like you’re in good shape….. and you’re using these workouts to sharpen your focus for that moment of the audition/performance…. and I agree with that approach. Every successful athlete, musician, writer constantly work at their craft so at that moment of performance they can focus.

Casey…

Your first take was working the part for the Mentalist…. where you’ve already been cast… congrats. It’s an unusual situation to be cast in an episodic this far in advance… the upcoming holidays virtually double the wait. But don’t let that double the anxiety. You’ve got this guy. There’s no more work to do. If anything just find a few opportunities to play with him in public. Moments will appear. This wait reminds me of those times when you’re doing a play and the character’s lines or thoughts bounce into your brain. The character lingers around in your thoughts. And that’s enough to keep him fresh and growing. The lines are unimportant and you need not run them in your head(though I’m sure you will). I’d definitely go out and buy him an article of clothing…. or engage in any kind of shopping as him(my favorite exercise). But don’t overwork him. Trust your talent. In the several takes my favorites were those that emphasized his “out there” essence. In this continuum of weird… lean to the weirder… they can pull you back. Do your first takes as you want them. Let him play. When you are on the set let the environment in… let it absorb your concentration. “They’re touching my equipment. I hope the museums beetles are OK. I have to clean that microscope.” Relate to the Lab. It’s his home/his life….. and let the words fall out of these thoughts. Just like you’ve done all along. So just go in there and play.

Katherine…

Delightful. You’ve developed a nice touch for this lighter style of writing and performance. Here tonight it was sit-com and last week was more Rom-Com…. but both were lighter as compared to what Zahn did. Last week was a character stretch…. a maid with an accent….. and you were comfortable in her skin. This week’s material was much closer to your core…. and you were comfortable in yourself. You handled both these different character approaches(last week’s theme) with a most attractive ease. And more important you clearly enjoyed performing. We could see you having fun… and that is infectious. It’s empathetically obvious. As actors….. we are our instrument… and you have learned how to play this kind of music. Your body your voice your presence have become very comfortable in this style of performance. We threw adjustments at you and your handled them effortlessly. Perhaps we’re discovering your wheelhouse… the kind of writing that your talent is drawn to. And that’s important. you should know you have this strength and when you have the opportunity to do this kind of material you can be confident and play. Sometimes the right thing to say as a coach is something like…. “That was just good work.”

Martin…

And tonight’s new word. Necessexual ! Yeah! You’re a leading man. Whether you want to or not when you work people will be projecting their sexuality on your image. You hunk you! So you must always keep this in mind. You can’t allow yourself to “have a headache.” Marilyn Monroe was the poster child for this syndrome. Everything she did was imbued with sexuality. And the roles you play will be entwined in this ubiquitous human element. SO… be aware of it and use it to your advantage. I know that “Sometimes you feel like a hunk and sometimes you don’t.” But even in the most neutral of writing…. that should always be a part of your presence. I’m reminded of a story that my coach told. He was working on a play with Noel Coward… who told him something like… Yes William, your character is this and this and this and that and that and all that too! …. Oh yes.

“And add a rage to live!” So your responsibility is to do all of the work, all the prep, all the discovery of the WhoWhatWhere and develop character…. Oh yes. And add a sexual presence…. necessexuality. Once you connected to her sexually the scene came alive. Your prep of late has been outstanding. You’re coming ready to play. And the experience of working with another actor is the last element of prep. It’s at this stage that you must engage the sexual element. Certainly you can keep it in mind as you prep but whenever you have a partner you need to engage that palpable sexual connection. That’s not to say that every scene you ever do will be sexual in its feel. But this is an element that you need to weave into your work and your presence. Especially in a Novella ! We didn’t quite settle the opening beats of the scene. You needed to be more specific about the shirt business… and perhaps let it be a sexual element too. Last week we talked about a fulcrum element… when you added the sexuality here tonight it changed the whole scene. It just came alive….. and I could see an ease and comfort that you can build on for future work. This will likely be a theme for you in the next period of time. Different challenges confront our talent at different times…. ease and comfort and play are likely next on your list. I think it would be interesting to do this again….. as a pure soap audition. Just lean into that style.