Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 8th Jan 2013

First class of the New Year. Zahn spooning and actually being charming.  Tyler “the dick”….. as opposed to “Casey You Dick.”  Campbell working on a character from his one man show.  Shanel auditing and representing the female side of the equation… It was so helpful to have a woman to read off camera.

Zahn…

Such different material.  Brave choice and well executed.  I think it would be productive for you to work on more material that is not in your wheelhouse.  It’s just exploration and we’re looking for happy accidents. This kind of scene is the bad guy’s redeeming moment… it lets us see his soft side.  And its powerful when its well done.  As we discussed… that laughing moment ……   It seemed to come out of nowhere and yet you stayed on top of the impulse and made it work for the character… and repeated/allowed it in the next take !  Interesting too that your “close up” coaching emerged as a topic.  You’ve added so many colors to that initial training and it’s the concept of allowing that sheds light on this issue.  Close up work shouldn’t be “dong nothing.”  It should be rather a time of allowing feelings and thoughts and impulses to race through your mind.  And be confident…. we will see them.  So maybe it’s simply a case of not doing less but rather allowing more…  Creativity is seldom enhanced by approaching a challenge from a negative point of view… “you can’t, shouldn’t, don’t, never.”   It may be a professional impossibility that you will ever be given such a scene…. but from a creative perspective…. working outside the frame and playing unlikely characters is a sure fired way to challenge your talent…. and find happy accidents.

Campbell…

So we’re building character.  We added context… where he was… what he was doing.  And we expanded character by adding colors other than anger.  This character is a voice…. the voice of the frustrated actor.  We’ve all felt this and we all know someone who is just like this guy…. this type…. and there is indeed much understandable anger in him.  And we all have some anger inside us…. But that’s too general.  “The more specific you are the more universal the character will be.”  We talked about cocky vs arrogant for Tyler but it also plays a part here.  If his anger is arrogant we won’t identify with him…. but if it comes from being cocky it somehow allows us in more.  And the idea of being off his meds and manic in bursts and then controlling it is a path into him because its something we all do with our own individual idiosyncrasies. Basically you approached this solely from the words and speaking them right to camera.  But this is a theater piece and needs to occupy the whole stage and use some device to keep on talking…. the phone was a great answer.  And you need to allow yourself to explore outside the lines you’ve written.  This is very early in the process and what looked good on paper may need some tweaking to work on stage.  So don’t be afraid to improvise in this exploration.  I’m sure the author won’t complain.  The fact that you got lost in words in one take means you’re learning too much on that narrow verbal path and you need to wander in the weeds of his thoughts a bit to see what you’ll find.  One-man writing demands distinctive characterization and that’s the challenge here.

Tyler…

Almost a cold read….  It will happen in your professional world too. You were lucky that this character was so in your wheelhouse.  Your opening beats easily established the “where.”  What was immediately obvious was that we wanted to like this guy so we had to find his more vulnerable side.   So….We just eased ourselves down into the scene with repetition.  Each run through produced more colors and opened him up to us.  This was a classic case of learning to let the scene do you rather that doing the scene.  Your first take was cold and unapproachable and locked into that singular tone.  As you learned to listen and respond to her dialogue we began to see…. and more importantly feel…. the connection between them.  This is a “love” scene.  We want them to come together.  We want to feel that connection…. empathetically.  So…. you must open yourself to that experience and allow us in.  Without a doubt this wasn’t intended to drag us into a mushy profession of love, but it opens the door to that connection that we all want to see… and feel…  between these two characters.   When you are this early in process…. cold reading…. be wary of just picking a tone.  That first instinct is likely correct but you should immediately look to see where you can add colors… find an arc… and let the scene affect you.  Playing a tone is almost never going to be more than a shallow approach.  This is a good scene to work on for the manager. Let’s take another shot at him off book and see what we find….  Even Tyler “The Dick” should have a full range of colors and impulses and feelings.