Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 17th April 2013

Five of us… Aaron borrowing a cup of sugar for a showcase scene.  Tracy confronting the cops who are looking for his daughter.  Zahn extracting favors from a parolee.  And Will doing a second round as a novice zombie hunter.

Zahn…

Good workout.  Amazing how one “look” can change a scene.  In your first take…We all felt the presence of a possible sexual connection… weather or not it was intended.   Perhaps that’s just our cultural inclination or the nasty little12 year old that lives in all of us..  But when you do a single “glance” it rings with sexuality…. Oh the human mind!  Tonight was just classic exploration…. a little of this a little of that.  And after this workout you are now ready to perform/audition/work on a set.  You use out workouts in a most productive way. You try and get to performance level.  You try to play at the peak of your talent and process.  You are constantly challenging your talent to work at a professional artistic level…. and that is always the best way to make your talent grow.  If an actor “phones in” or slumps through a rehearsal there is little accomplished other than building patterns.  So here tonight basically we just did a couple of adjustments… one to the dark side one to the light.  Once you experienced those paths you can pick and choose because you’ve laid down that emotional memory in your body…. in your mind.  So when you play a moment…. even if you pick a dark path the lighter memory, idea, experience….. the thought… is still there and one some level we will get it…. empathy.  We played and explored and discovered.

Aaron…

Ms Iowa….  The approach to character in theater is different than that in TV and Film.  She’s you… if you were from Iowa…… or a small town in Northern Ca.  This is a comedy scene.  There’s nothing serious here.  Just a girl like you meeting a guy.  I suppose the only question is whether she really needs sugar or not.  If you make those strong distinct adjustments as you explore….. you’ll find out which feels best to you… and that’s the right path.  We looked for a moment of connection between these two that was motivated by the writing. That moment of connection could be almost any place…. and could/should happen at different times on different takes…. and might not happen till that last beat as she goes out the door.  Your first takes were almost solicitous of his attention.  When we submerged that a bit and let the scene lead her to a connection it was much more interesting.  It’s a case of playing the end of the scene… the connection…. rather letting us watch it grow.  When you see these scenes of flirtation and connection let us watch that process…. and if you are having fun….. we will have fun too.  Play is so important both to the character and the scene.  Terrible isn’t it that we are insisting that you play and have fun.  What a wonderful craft we have chosen.

Tracy…

Welcome.  First classes are terrifying.  Your emotional well is easily available to you.  It’s part of your talent.  In early process/preparation….  strong emotional choices feel right… they are a big presence in most writing.  We can see, hear, feel them as we explore.  But all too often they become a result.  We follow the writer’s directions and feel/play sad, or angry, or happy….. and since we’re actors our emotions are readily available and they feel good.  But all too often it’s just technique.  We call up the required emotions… because we can.  And here you will get a general…. perhaps shallower…. emotional resonance because it’s your talent/your craft that brings the emotion and not the specifics of the scene. So that’s where we focus.  What are the beats, the moments, the realities of the life in the scene that you can react to?  Those moments will weave your emotional reservoir into the scene because you will be reacting to what you are hearing.  In our prep…. what starts as an actors general ability to access his emotions should become specific reaction to the life in the scene rather than pushing for what you initially think the scene should be.  This is a delicate process. BUT….  In your prep be adventurous…. do it drunk, like a kid, New York….. whatever.  These exercises may seem to be off point but remember you are still exploring and discovering the path thru the material.  When you employ adjustments you are not building patterns(like pushing emotions)….. rather you’re building the path.  Strong emotional demands in a scene tend to steal our creative focus.  Be aware of that and make sure you prep and explore as you would any non emotional scene.  Maybe the quickest way to say this is….. “Don’t front load the scene.  Rather, listen and react.”  Interesting how he became more working class.  Simplify!  Pace!   Below is the prep sheet with some ideas/exercises that you most likely do unconsciously but every now and then we need to remember them.

Will…

We pursued character tonight.  Your first takes were just too serious.  I think you saw clearly how leaning into his sense of smart aleck humor made the scene much more fun.  There is certainly modern writing that is dark and troubled…. but unless it’s clear that there is nothing but drama…..you must open your talent to including sense of humor.  After all….Your earliest choices were douche bag guys!  As you work on more material look for a character’s humor.  How does he play?  If you can allow him to play it will make him seem more alive because you must listen to be able to play.  Remember this was a pilot and pilots are about establishing character.  It seems obvious now but the “Men if Black” relationship is surely a model for this and other writing.  This is a writing device and when you see it…… you can and should let that recognition guide your character development.  The “Buddy” relationship allows for humor and play and connection and …….. a more subtle way to bring in exposition.  I hope you can find more of these characters and pursue their humor.  So much of your persona comes thru in your work.  This is just an element you need to explore.