Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 7/23/13

Six of us… Katherine doing a period piece. Aaron a hormonal ovulating mess. Rob sleeping around with producers. Lauren as a lawyer/hairdresser applying for a job. And Casey making out with the naughty astronomer.
Yea! Back from vacation.  Good to see your fresh scrubbed faces!  Nice night.  Some good work.  Multiple issues.  Emotional catharsis…. moments.  The kiss…. how?  Artificially raising one’s voice.  Accents/styles of speech. Pace.  It was good to be back in the theater!

There were so many issues. Everyone got 3 or 4 takes and you all took adjustments. Everyone was well prepared…. to the point where you could play/perform. This was just a good workout.

Rob…

I gave you bad direction… a result….. and you did it… as an adjustment…. but in subsequent takes you’d have to build/find an emotional basis for it.  Better would have been a direction/invitation to react to her and let you find the form.  But you made it work. Then to repeat on future takes….. you just listen to her and react.  Then we’d get the spontaneity of a fresh response that leans in the direction of a higher placed voice. Which is to say that the result…. the higher pitch… has to be grounded in a real reaction to her.  Your adjustment was great… you just need to ground it now. You were finding pace… you have to in sitcom writing… cause it ain’t full of deep meaningful pauses.  You were finding more ways to allow character…  I’m still not sure how geeky he is.  I think you have to ride his enthusiasm and let that be the source of his innocence…. or the lack or awareness of what she really wants.  This is a situation that should resonate with you as you try and market BJM.  Let some of your real world experience color this scene.  Your life just seems en point for this material.  Maybe that’s why you chose it.

Lauren…

Just think about one thing.  Maybe one thing per take.  You clearly understand that the thought process of acting is complex.  BUT you can’t be “thinking about all” that when you perform.  Pick one character trait, or one emotion, or one thought.  Then pick something else the next take. Trust that the thoughts and feelings in your prep will come thru.  Your natural quirkiness will always soak thru a lawyer’s presence.  So this choice of a straighter character is a good exercise for you.  Playing a straighter character will always be a challenge to your natural quirkiness.  You took the stage directions about “fanning herself” a bit too literally.  As we watched it…. it was obvious that you need to find a different way to handle the resume. Stage directions can drive you into a corner and prevent us from exploring when we get locked into an action.  Performance pressure affects everyone differently… with you it’s this flood of over thinking.  Listening is the best cure because if you are really listening and hearing actively as the character…. you are too busy to think and get self conscious.  I know that sounds like an easy recipe but listening is the best tool to stop/focus your mind.

Casey…

Opening with a “potch.”  This evolved in a leading man way…. interesting…. taking a sitcom in a leading man direction.  It felt more vulnerable as you simplified it…. as you leaned away from geek.  I wonder if that vulnerability is a “feeling” that comes from you the actor or the character.  Likely both….  but you will know you are on the leading man path when you as the actor are feeling that vulnerability.  You make this stuff look easy.  Your habitual prep includes so much actual running through of the material and yet you don’ seem to get too locked into a path.  What ever you’re doing…. keep at it.  So lets try and find a challenge for you.  What kind of material would make you sweat a bit?  As you look for material this week see what you can find that challenges you.  I’ll do the same and see what I can come up with.  A cop ?  A lawyer ?  A serious druggie ?  A bad boy ?  There’s no doubt you are in good artistic shape and your preparation process is honed to a “fare thee well.”  BUT let’s see if we can make you sweat ?  I keep thinking of that Oswald play…. now that would have been a challenge.  Maybe you could look at some play material even.  Let’s challenge you to push your artistic muscles and see what we find.

Aaron…

Hormonal.  Exaggerated importance… all this is an invitation to be big.  The more you try to contain this irresistible force(the same thing that drives salmon upstream)…. the funnier it will be.  Clearly she is making a scene in the restaurant.  As a director I’m already thinking of the shot of him embarrassedly following her out.  I loved the idea of the phone alarm though I’m not sure we nailed it.  If the alarm does bring “celestial” voices…. it must quickly turn into the drive to procreate.  Funny how that’s different than sex.  There’s not much sexual here…. or it’s surely a different kind of sexual.  The intensity and single mindedness made her funny.  Loved the walking away button you added in your first take.  You are developing a nice feel for this innocent Iowa chick based around your persona…. we’ve talked about her a lot.  Here she was in a hormone driven frenzy…. she almost seemed like a different character.  And maybe that’s a key to expanding your range.  We’ve seen her in lots of situations but here she’s driven by her hormones.  That emotional state could evolve into a single minded ambitious lawyer or a cop who has that same kind of drive all the time.  So from this central performance comfort/character that you are developing….. there is a path to other characters that are grounded in your core but appear as different us.

Katherine…

Nice work.  Your last take was perfect.  You settled well into this material.  You internalized the language and loosened up the physicality.  You were well prepared… perhaps too well prepared.  You had blocked this down to when you sat and when and where you looked. Missing I think was the element of play.  You were flirting… playing as the character… and who knows how that will turn out.  That is….. Unless in some way you are playing/anticipating the end of the scene.  And that may be what I was seeing here.  As you prep you must build in flexibility.  Do some exercises as you perp…. adjustments… clean the kitchen so you change the physical life.  Use different accents….. and as we said do this with your own voice before you lay a speech pattern over the performance.  You are always extremely well prepared…. but I looked back in past notes and we’ve seen this issue before.  Bring more play into your prep.  Play as you perform.  Let it be fun.  Surprise yourself.  All too easy to say but it is an element that you must have.  Just changing the physical pattern helped make that last take so special.  It’s often little things that break our patterns.  Look for those things in your prep.