Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 7/30/13

Eight of us… Casey as the sound engineer sharing his girlfriend’s gifs.  Will as the unexpected condo roommate.  Aaron trying to have a baby.  Lauren the killer in the cab.  Tracy the ivy league lawyer.  Dana as an eager nurse and a wily tech reporter.  And Andrei auditing.
For most of us this was a character exercise.  Once you establish a character core it answers so many questions.  “Get the character’s mind and you’ve got the character.”  In your development process….Once you have a strong instinct about character you have to improvise and play and bring the character to the writing……. and then the writing to the character.  Some of your prep should be pure character exercises outside of dialogue.  Strong characters require you to be solidly grounded in how this character talks and thinks. Play with dialogue in character.  Create other scenes and play them out so you fill in the character’s thoughts and feelings.

Some nights a theme appears.  Tonight it was character.  Remember it’s always Who What Where ? …. But Who is always first.
Thanks for all your work.

Casey…

A style question often determines character… and the range of character here was determined by how much geek you brought to the character.  Interesting was the take where you were disturbed that you were planning everything.  When we watched it however it was fine.  That’s your technique carrying you.  And it’s a lesson not to stop a take when you are uncomfortable.  Just trust your technique.  This guy is right in your wheelhouse.  I’ll be interested to see how the director responds.  If we were right in the style of the writing I’m sure he will like this work.

Dana…

That first short character was a gem.  You made  a specific choice and built a character in 4 lines.  Great work and we all saw her clearly.  It was a lesson for us all to watch.  The tech chick was a character stretch.  She was just too hip for words.  She talked to herself.  And she was putting on a show for this guy.  So she’s a multileveled manipulative woman.  This is a character that demands a lot of energy.  She’s working it all the time.  She’s always on.  She’s ambitious and full of herself.  As you said you know this kind of chick and they are a great writing tool cause they always speak their mind and create conflict.  She is just a bundle of energy whose always working it to get what she wants.  I know this is an audition but it would be a good idea for you to bring her back and get her solidly into your body.

Tracy…

Character.  You said your initial instinct was to “Ivy League” him.  But you gave up on that instinct.  I looked back in past notes and found this….  “Interesting how he became more working class.”  So this is a case of you easing back into your default choices.  BUT I see a whole field of more Ivy League types that would be good for you to play.  This is a great exercise.  Let’s build this character another week.  Get him solidly in your body.  We’ll call this a callback to producers.  You’ll have more time to work on lines….  and this kind of character USES words for a living so you have to be solid on lines.  The ease you have in those working class guys should transfer into these Ivy Leaguers and make them interesting, charming and powerful.  This kind a character should be easily available in your toolbox.

Will…

Some of the best work we’ve seen from you.  And as often happens when someone has been away for a while we find that their talent has marinated itself to a new level.  You seemed comfortable and playful and grounded.  You took the adjustments and comments effortlessly.  Again my thought is that you felt more playful…. as though you had built more flexibility into the work and could be looser.  Whatever your prep was…. whatever this felt like…. Do More of it!

Aaron…

Good exploration of character.    Being the good actor you are….. you prepared for her to be on set.  And surprise ! The director had a different idea and “gave you an adjustment” and you executed it.  That’s your job as an actor.  But it’s your obligation as an artist to get a take for camera that is what you have in mind.  It’s a collaborative craft and they need you to be creative so don’t sit on those desires.  Convince then to let you do your take on it and watch it.  Especially in this situation where all you’ll get is tape on yourself.  But I think your instincts were right….. She’s less interesting to me if she is as bland as they wanted.  And Woody allen does not right bland characters.  Maybe it’s just a question of style.  Non the less…. both were well executed.  You’re finding ways to develop character out of the central “Iowa Chick.”  Just keep bringing stuff in and challenging your self.

Lauren…

Character.  This is a real stretch for you.  This is your femme fatale, your killer, your tough chick.  There are lots of these roles out there and it is something you should be able to do.  So lets bring her in again and build this character into your body.  Watch a few films that involve these male or female hired killers…. Or watch tape from the Casey Anthony trial… cause she was a ruthless intelligent killer.  See if you can find her stillness and her power.  She’s been doing this for at least 6 years so it is something she does as a job…  She’s used to it.  Maybe in her stillness you will find her power.  It will be physically exhausting for you to contain yourself and keep her inside.  This is a great challenge for you talent now.  Even better than the lawyer.