Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 12th Feb 2013

Twelve… that’s a lot of actors in such a small space! But it was a fun night. And lots of thoughts. Casey the geek. Liz and Aaron both as the lonely cop’s wife. Tyler the guy who has a way with women. Will the reformed alcoholic still trying to please Dad. Stephanie playing the CIA agent. Campbell a bad dream of an agent. Edythe the soap opera bitch. And Zahn as the charming yet dangerous crook.

Imagination.

Mine or the audience’s? Classic acting says that the actor’s imagination is most important. But here…. when a character’s casual short hand look off camera can create a whole room…… to ignore such a tool is to be foolish. Yes our own imaginations are crucial. But so’s the audience’s. And…. It’s a physical tool for the actor. “If your body knows what it’s doing…. It knows how to act.” And yes, ultimately….. it all depends on imagination. If your imagination is engaged and you are seeing and feeling the elements in the scene…. so too will the audience be able to empathetically experience the world as you are imagining it.

Casey…

This was way early in your process. You were getting a feel for this character again and learning lines. Not to worry…he’ll come back. Like an old suit. But let him have fun. His enthusiasm is what makes him special. Loved you launching the floater. Therein lies the character… his enthusiasm, joy, intelligence and his geekitude are all expressed in his launching of this new toy. Like last week with Liz and “the look that could kill”….. this is one of Michael Chekov’s psychological gestures. This was a moment that contained the whole of the character. The next couple of weeks we can work this material like you did for the ‘Mentalists’. But this is a character that demands some improv. Just hit their geeky vocabulary… “antiquated, etc….” and entertain your impulses. You’ve done this character so you know him better than the writers. Let him play. A guy like this is always playing cause he’s always entertained and amazed by the world and that’s the source of his enthusiasm.

Will…

These darker character require serious internal work. You used anger to portray this guy, and one emotion will not be enough to create his persona. I think their description was “freaked out.” So….You need that internal twisting cyclone of thought and emotion….. character. Go to the dark side. Do him again. It takes a lot of work but eventually you should be able to “wear him like an old suit.” I think you are right about the showcase…. take in the car thief(from Jan 24). But I’d like you to do some work on this guy. He’s a key. You have to dig deep to get to that darker inner core of troubled characters. It’s interesting that Zahn is working to find the light in his dark characters and you are trying to find the opposite.

Zahn…

Ahhhhh. That’s the sound of shoulders relaxing. You let that character breathe. Nicely played. Very leading man even. A style perhaps…. but nicely played. As a director…I’d be happy. “Two takes. Lets move on. ” Be careful or soon they’ll be having you play “the wise old Indian.” Great workout. I don’t think you needed that second round. Congrats on the work. Both jobs are a case of work opens the door to more work. You do a good audition and people hire you. You do good work on a set and people hire you. What I was most pleased with here was the increase in your vocabulary of behavior that you allowed this guy to have. You were letting him play. That’s a wonderful color to bring to these darker guys.

Stephanie…

Yes. You played. And therein lies a big part of our craft. Playing is a tool and you must learn how to use it to…..to play with it. It was interesting that her sense of humor… of play(using milk and sugar to make Semtex) made her seem more powerful. It’s not what you’d expect of a CIA agent. But having it….. made her different and powerful. Don’t worry about being too big! Lean in that direction. Push your talent to do things that are uncomfortable to you. You must stretch. The camera will let you know if you are too big. But being careful is not creative. All these ideas and all this experience performing makes up the structure of what you’ll know about acting. The character, imagination, script analysis, style…… all these and more are the tools you’re learning to use… and then you must learn to put all you’ve learned away….. And play. And listening is in there, and the aforementioned imagination. All these are creative tools.

Campbell…

Character ! We’re looking for how to exhibit it….. choices….. activities….. things that can engage him as he talks that show us who he is. But here tonight…. let me aim these thoughts toward the writer. This character feels like a briefer note. Perhaps…. The rest of the guys are full blown characters…. and he is just a voice. He can be a thread. Maybe a punctuation. A recurring joke. If he’s going to be long form….. you’ll have to structure a lot more jokey dialogue. He’s a project if you give him lots of stage time. If you look at him as an instrument in this synphony…. you can use him more or less to fit into the music. When you finally start bringing all the pieces/characters together this guy will be useful. I can see him used in a film as a cut away with a “Can you believe this?” attitude from his client. He’s a good idea…. but you have to find a better way to use him.

Tyler…

Welcome back. My teacher used to say. “Intelligence is one of the hardest thing to hide.” But you do it well. It seemed almost effortless… which is good for this guy. Loved your recovery on the pores/implants line. And when it happens in an audition…and it will happen! play it just like you did. You smiled…. because it was funny! And you picked up the line and handled it like a pro. This guy is in your wheelhouse…. so he was fun to watch and believable. Your time off did not seem to set you back….. There were so many good moments….. You created the bar and characters with looks. You were relaxed in your body. You were listening well. Careful of getting locked into that triangle. These workouts will solidify all your impulses and get you in shape so that when you get auditions you will be ready. Lets take on something new that challenges your muscles. Congrats on the new manager….

Liz/Aaron…

This scene got a lot of attention. It felt as if there were some writing issues. The scene was a bit on the nose. This is the whining wife and the over worked cop. I think you saw a path for her, but sitting in the chair just drained your energy. However you had the impulse to get up and you ignored it. Your talent provides your impulses… but it only whispers. You have to learn to pay attention to it. Perhaps we should see her again. This kind of scene is an example of “Leap and the net will appear.” You have to create the net out of the LOVE and the emotional whirlwind of their life… and then throw yourself into the net. This is an emotional imbroglio… you have to create it in your prep…. but you can’t/shouldn’t control it. As a director I’d ask for adjustments emphasizing anger, pain, love, loss, resignation, humor… Out of those emotional adjustments you would find the richest take.

Aaron/Liz…

That exercise with Casey was a revelation….. of character too. We saw and felt their relationship and that told us something about them also. This kind of improv is an essential tool of the process of learning a scene. The emotional chord you guys struck resonated and we all got it. Some of your improvised dialogue was better than their words. When you then pulled it back to their dialogue… it was much more revealing. This character is again close to your core. But you were developing the character of a lawyer. We were giving her a little more spine and confronting his assertion that you couldn’t financially support the family. She was you…. if you became a lawyer. Your first take was a great reaction to Campbell’s unexpected anger and later the same fluid listening and response to Casey’s ass hole take. The trap here is to make her character nothing more than your first impression of her emotional reaction to this scene. We were exploring…. and developing character. Lets do another night of her.

Edythe…

“Happy Birthday To You. Happy B’day to you. Happy B;day dear Bitch ! …… Your second take was nicely played. We discussed style. This was…. More Dallas…. than Soap. BUT…..One shouldn’t play style for Soap writing. “Just honesty,” as Zahn said. Treating her target as nothing allowed you to breeze through her dialogue. If your attitude is that she is a not a worthy opponent…. it diminishes her in our eyes. Just brush her away as you would a fly. You Bitch you. This is a continuation of the diva work we’ve done. These are great characters for you. I sent you some other material and hope you can find the time to come in and work on her. This is a good character for you to bring to a showcase. Welcome back. Good to see you…. Bitch.