Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 30th April 2013

Four of us… Stephanie monologuing and “doing” her Mom.  Robbie the smart ass kid and his flare gun getting his comeuppance from a cop.  Tracy the serial killer….. also confronting a cop.  “This must be TV writing.”
Small classes rock. Tales were told. We explored interesting ideas…. styles…. play/prep….breathing. There might have even been revelations….
It was a nice workout… a nice intimate night. Thanks for all your hard work.

Robbie…

First nights are terrifying…. worse than auditions…. especially after a long time off.  Welcome.  This was early in your process.  So….The dialogue was choppy… you were thinking about the words and not the scene.  But don’t forget that these moments are not a failure of memory.  When you find a “pot hole” like this look for the missing thoughts.  Those thoughts will lead you to the words.  Whether you work/audition“On or off” the script is an artistic choice but…. you must be able to move thru the thoughts and life in the scene.  I think having the script in hand is best.  It’s what’s expected.  But either way…. you have to be able to play.  Once you can play…. you can perform.   You now know it takes longer…. to really be ready to play…. and with practice you will get faster and better with prep.  Your second take was quite good.  “Print ! ”  When you make a big adjustment as you did….. the freshness and discovery of the process made the work shine (Tracy called it ABD…. “always be discovering”). Your last take was wobbly…. but a smart director would have said, “Keep it rolling and start again….”   Preparation is everything…. and that’s a great lesson to take to heart.  You handled much of the  dialogue with ease.  You took the adjustment effortlessly.  Your talent and training are obvious so we can look at these workouts as a time to knock the rust off.  I think these workouts will serve you well.        

Tracy…

Simplify.  Quincy Jones once told a young (soon to be famous) saxophonist, “Don’t play all the butter notes. ”  To me that means… Don’t play all the obvious stuff.  Let us fill in some of the blanks.  That poetry when translated to acting is something like….  “Don’t elongate moments….. move thru them.”  Trust that we will see the thoughts and the work.   Simply put….  Tv pace !  Intensity is for film….. volume is for stage.  Our early choices/instincts… emotional, tonal, class, style, whatever….. can all too quickly define a scene.  When you adjusted him to upper class… a whole new vocabulary of behavior and musicality appeared.  We have to always remember to explore.  Listen to that whisper.  It would be interesting to take much of that upper class banker stuff and see how it integrates into the working class approach.  All exploration bleeds in.  The lesson here is…. Even though you think you understand and see the path/the life… you must explore and play in your prep so that you build in flexibility, and ideas, and emotions, and of course the lines, and all the peripheral stuff that builds the life in a scene.  Our first impressions and choices can be like a bad stage direction.  Once we see a writer’s description…. sad, angry, exhausted… we, like the good actors we are…. go to the result.  That shortcut stops exploration and discovery and play.  When you play in your prep you invite happy accidents and discovery and magic.  Goethe wrote… “Whatever you can, or dream you can, begin it !  Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”  That’s how I think about play. It has genius and power and magic in it.  I think too you hurried to the idea that he was telling the truth and had murdered the girl.  On second reading he was lying….. and that changes everything internally.  We talked about “peak-a-boo” acting and being a good liar but…  The bottom line is when you make that choice between lying and telling the truth….. the internal process is completely different.

Stephanie…

We were adapting an audition piece…. crafted specifically for the auditions(we think).  A Korean/American chick…. who’s so much cooler than her old world parents.  You know this situation and these characters well.  It’s really a version of your life.  What a difference style makes.  You took the style adjustment quite well.  Stage vs film.  Using/manipulating/emphasizing words rather than speaking them to someone… just talking as opposed to embellishing the words with performance for an audience.  As in dance… style is everything.  Theater is presentational, more poetic.  In film there’s more life.  We can watch life evolve on the screen…. and then there are words.  Words are powerful…. but then again…. “A picture’s worth….”    So you have to have life in your acting both on a set and in auditions….. for camera.  It grounds you too and makes your acting better…. more real because there is more life!.  Film acting is just a style…. as is commercialI acting (which we talked about) which can be learned in a single 4 to 8 week class.  But what we’re working on…. learning this on-camera technique/style requires more time and dedication…. like a sport… or dance.  For instance… you could teach someone to do a tap dance in a few weeks of hard work.  But would they be a dancer?  No!  They would be skilled enough to pull off a tap routine but would certainly not be a dancer.  Perhaps commercial acting technique is to “acting” what tap is to dance.  You were well prepared and took adjustments easily.  That last take which was more in you own voice/words let us see and feel her character.  I don’t know what the director/writer’s approach will be…. but the camera style made it much more interesting and allowed us to see her as a person rather than as a performer.