Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 26th Feb 2013

Just 5 of us. Lots of takes. Leisurely paced and out early. Zahn prepping for a film test as the Indian sheriff. Katherine sunbathing and being watched. Colette negotiating benefits with a friend. And Casey rehearsing for the Samsung gadget geek.
It was nice as always to see work on active projects. I encourage you guys to bring in stuff that you’re auditioning. It helps us all see what’s out there and where current screen writing is going.

Casey…

Great process…. You’re just naturally slipping back into that character’s grove. These workouts are old fashioned rehearsals for you… and they seem like a brilliant way to use class. We saw him clearly in both the scenes and how he interacts with the two different women characters. He is unaware of the romantic connection to his assistant cause he’s so involved in the Tech world. And he’s hyper aware of his boss cause she’s so heroic/real world grounded. The technical demands of the computer interaction…. your hand motions(sorry about that camera shot).. are an early challenge. You’ll adapt things on set and the visual effects guys will guide you. You need to be specific with every one of those computer moves. It will help ground you. I don’t know how many more scenes you have but I’d bring them in and rehearse them. The more you rehearse the more you’ll be able to play on set. And remember that’s the central melody of his character. He’s always playing !

Colette…

This was a musical piece…… fast paced. And it is driven by lusty, competitive, opinionated, clever characters. I think we found what drives the last part of the scene as the lust builds up. We should have started it a little lighter and more playful perhaps…. and let their natural competitiveness draw them in. It might be interesting to explore this as a monologue…. so you can string all her thoughts together. We should also ask the question “Is this the first time she’s laid down these rules or is this her normal routine?” Your talent and training are obvious. But it feels to me as if you’re being just a little too careful…. trying to do it right…. trying to be a nice actor. It’s always been my conviction that actors should be creative and playful….. and do what they want in auditions and on the set. Being careful is not creative. Our workouts will allow you to develop a vocabulary of behavior by watching your own work….. and by seeing the range of other actiors’ performances….. and stealing their best stuff ! That vocabulary will be based on what feels right to you and what tells the story. For instance your first take…. you sat facing the reader…. To me that just puts your body in the uncomfortable position of sitting in a CD office and reading. Just sitting like you’re in a car somehow allows your body to relax and know where it is….. And you’ll hear this a lot, “When your body knows where it is and what it’s doing…. It knows how to behave.” It’s really just practice. The more you workout and play in this arena the more comfortable and creative you can be. AND this work is not just for auditions. Ultimately you’ll find that prepping and creating for the audition arena carries over to the set. The way you think and rehearse and explore for an audition is the same process you’ll use for the set. It was nice having you in class. I hope you’ll join us.

Katherine…

This material had some problems for you. It worked better when you played it older…. and I think it was because it forced you to make an adjustment and break your rhythms. Casey’s comment was insightful. When we prep dialogue we inevitably build in rhythms. The answer is to incorporate more adjustments in your prep. Play it drunk, stoned, whispered, like a child, angry, elderly….. I just listed 6 adjustments. If you use just these adjustments/exercises as you’re pounding lines it will help defer the inevitable memorization patterns. What’s great in your work of late is that you’ve grown in skills and presence and you can play in character…. but when we’ve unintentionally pounded a verbal pattern into our performance it robs us of spontaneity. I included a prep doc below to remind you of some adjustments you should include in your prep routine. Remember… compared to theater…. we’re trying to jamb 6 weeks of rehearsal into a couple of days of private work…. or as you had tonight just a couple of hours. Your challenge is to learn to play as you prepare. Just pounding dialogue is too limited an approach even when we have limited time. Look at this prep doc and remind yourself of some exercises you can practice as you’re prepping. We all inevitably pound lines to get them into our heads. What we’re doing with these adjustments is to put the language/thoughts into our heads without patterns. This is an important step for you. Lets see if we can concentrate on this issue over the next few classes and see if you can’t find a process that will support more play and less of a performance orientation in your auditions and on set.

Zahn…

Your second takes were better just because you let them breathe and be fuller voiced. They were somehow more grounded in character. The reservation accent is just the right touch. The last beat… telling them the horse’s name is perfect. The interaction with the kid is so appealing because it’s that “wise old Indian thing”…. It just popped up earlier than we thought. I think the difference in takes was just confidence. You were more present in his skin. Don’t know why but you were exuding presence in those second takes. Most likely it was just repetition and getting comfortable. But for me…. his confidence is a character trait… not just an audition tool. This callback/film test/producers’ session part of the process can wear you down as an artist. It’s easy to say… but you’ve got to find a way to bury the resentment and look at this as an opportunity to play and show off your stuff.

Audition Process

I’ve emailed you an Audition process document…. it never hurts to remind ourselves of how we should structure our rehearsal/learning time.

Today’s artist/actor faces unique challenges:

  • Lack of time.
  • Rehearsal/prep for plays usually takes long hours over weeks.
  • Prep for the camera arena is typically 24 hours or at most a couple of days
  • No structured rehearsal time with the other actors, much less the director.

So our responsibility is to develop a individualized preparation process that can lead us from the script to a performance in a short time.

That process must build in a flexibility that was uncalled for in theatre … because nothing on a set is predictable. Lines are often rewritten and learned on a set or between takes…. and you never know what your partner is going to improvise.

This is the challenge that actors face in today’s camera world.