Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 8/13/13

Just three of us. Aaron going from having a wonderful day to discovering her dog has died. Will as the hapless mortgage broker whose business crashes, and find himself managing a Starbucks. Interesting that disaster befalls both these characters.
I enjoyed our pre-class conversation. I look forward to hearing how the play appears to you. We did lots of takes tonight.  And you both got better and better as you got more comfortable with the material and learned to play.  As a director I expect that process.  I expect you to get better, more at ease, more grounded….. more playful.  It was fun to watch that growth in your performances. Thanks for all you hard work.

Aaron…

This is challenging/stretching your comedic talent with more emotional material.  Even though there is a well worn punch line… “The only thing harder than comedy is death.”  But this girl fits right In your “Iowa Girl” framework.  Interesting that we’re getting to see this side of her and we can interpret it as almost another character….. because of the emotional quality/impact of the writing.  This is a particularly guest star phenomena.  What ‘s demanded is an abundance of emotion… which we then identify as the character.   So even though we cringe at the idea that you would always play the same character…. when she appears as a guest star defining a specific emotion…. she appears to us as a different character.   And she could be also be angry, sad, determined, frightened, heroic, cowardly, smart, confused, whatever the script demands.  The core of the character is you… MS Iowa… but the character we see is different each time.  For me there are two different writing structures for emotional scenes.  You start the scene at a high level because something already happened to you.  Or something happens to you during a scene that causes big emotions.  Here tonight as we saw…..You can’t front load the emotion like Casey’s scene last week.  But you can come in with an abundance of emotion beneath the surface and then more easily tap into it.  There was a note describing an exercise (that I called building an emotional muscle memory) last week(8/13/13).  Let’s see her again next week.  I think she will be a great tool for workshops.

Will…

Is this a break through or just another challenge along the path or just another lock along this river you are traveling.  However we describe it….. this is an important new artistic challenge.  So you are consolidating this playful growth.  Learning to play in our prep is so important.  Having the will and the ability to bring that element to an audition or a set is yet another huge step in one’s artistic growth.  Because ours is a performance craft there is always pressure when you engage your craft.  Your talent has to exert itself at a specific time.   You must bring all your talent and prep and effort to a specific time and place and then….. play.  In theater we do a play.  Athletes play sports.  Movies work on a screen play.  Play is foundational.  Our preparation is supposed to bring us to the point that we can play.  We have to forget all the butter notes and insight and revelation and plot points and just play the scene.  So easy to say and so hard to do.  I think maybe you were right when you said that this just seems to be the right time for this lesson/issue to exert itself.  So let’s keep this element in focus for a while.  We’ll browbeat you with the word play for the next few classes. When I coach working actors for larger roles….. Play almost always emerges as a point of focus.  One would think that as the stakes are raised and the roles more demanding that Play would diminish in importance.  I remember a camera being inside a team huddle in an important playoff game and hearing the coach say something like, “You guys know how to play this game.  Just get in there and play.  Have fun.”  Let the brow beating begin!