Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 8/2/19

Six of us… Casey and Rob working on a table read of Cold Man. Aaron as the Pilgrim girl learning how to engage the 21st century. Andres working on a bar tender over exposed on Facebook. Jamie revealing that she was blinded in a scene from The Lobster.

Thoughts…

PRESENCE… The is such a rich topic and we’ll pursue it in the next few weeks. I encourage all of you to see Once upon a Time in Hollywood. This film moves at such a slow pace that we have time to watch the characters in mundane tasks that reveal character and let us soak in their presence. Again this poses the question… What is the difference between character and presence ?

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 7/30/19

Eight of us…Taylor and Maria doing working audits… Taylor as the flare gun totting spring breaker. Maria as the waitress who wants to sail around the world. Grace as the world’s most important UFO blogger. Aaron as the blunt roommate/ex-wife giving advice. Kate as the ever cheerful employee getting dumped and fired. Rob as the 1930’s sports writer on a hot human interest story. Dominic as the reluctant farmer/ex-soldier being talked into an adventure in ancient times.

Commentary was insightful and supportive. Acting IS a collaborative craft.

Thoughts…

PREPARATION… This is a most important part of the acting craft… and our workouts. Your talent… the actor’s ability to be in the scene… is developed in your prep. We saw several examples of cold reading tonight. There will be times when you are forced to perform/audition before a reasonable prep…

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 6/25/19

Six of us… Ariane pregnant and not wanting to hear about her father. Aaron as the online personality/shrink who’s a fake friend. Brian as a professional house breaker and a gamer trying to arrange job. Kate and Casey doing a couples scene from Catastrophe.

Thoughts…

COMMENTARY… You guys were most insightful and supportive of Brian’s audition prep. I can’t think of a process that would be more helpful than putting a scene up in class just before you audition it. And to get supportive insight from peers… extraordinary. I encourage you all to bring in material that you will be auditioning.

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 6/4/19

Five of us… Rob as a reporter interrogated for NCIS… Kate as the bumbling reporter fromTrain Wreck Interviewing Casey as a sports Dr… Heidi working an under five as a barista.

Thoughts…

UNDER FIVES… so we’re going to explore this kind of character… this Performance arena. Most of you will face this challenge. Under 5’s are an entry point. Casting directors need a stable of dependable actors and this is where they shop… look for talent. Most shows are casting multiple small roles every week. The actor’s trajectory is that you do a great audition, get booked, and then perform well on set. So you do a good job on one show and they’ll remember you for another show they’re casting. Then… when they have a one-day guest star… you come in and impress them and so forth. This is at least one understandable path. We discussed several approaches. First of all…

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 5/28/19

Seven of us. All grumpy. (I think it was in the air. Better to stay at home on these take-a-nap days. (However we persisted… ) Grace doing a working audit, who’s pregnant and being asked to confront her past. Jackson as one of the Ambassadors to Outer Space whose cousin was the main attraction. Kate as a bartender questioned by cops and trying to hide her affair. Heidi as the werewolf bartender and also as the same bartender as Kate. Rob as the zookeeper with a snow leopard problem. Casey sitting on the dock (of the bay) in a new draft of the Coldman script.

Thoughts…

STYLES OF WRITING AS A CLICHE… Interesting that we’ve addressed cliches multiple times recently. They’re a great writing tool. And here tonight this werewolf-style writing is a cliche too… in the same vein that we asses Soap Opera writing as a cliche. The characters and the situations and the dialogue are stylized and that means everything is a cliche. Heidi delivered that cliched writing/acting style perfectly in the second round.

TRUTH Vs LYING… This is especially relevant to guest stars role in procedurals or any scene where someone is asking you questions. Typically these scenes will be you providing exposition. Tonight Rob’s first take was him telling the truth and the second one he was lying…

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 5/21/19

10 of us. Big class. Jonathan dropping in as a banker being interrogated by the narcs. Aaron as the ghostly Mom advising her son. Jackson the new hire who’d rather work from home. Jamie working on a short… talking about a friend that got busted. Heidi doing pillow talk with Casey from This is 40. Chris as the agoraphobic with an escort. Brian doing a scene from Knocked Up. Kate as the Master Fitness Instructor.

Thoughts…

CHARACTER… Using different… other than the obvious… character choices as an exploratory tool appeared in several personal notes. With Chris playing a more self aware guy with a sense of humor, Brian leaning into a sleaze ball and Aaron as the chipper ghostly Mom. Here these are prep tools like using accents or playing drunk. They may not be the best choice for the script’s arc. But prep should be a playful exploration. It’s a process… as you work/learn/explore a scene just make some strong character choices and adjustments and see what you learn. It’s like taking a piece of music written for piano and playing it with a sax. You will learn something from this exploration. Some writing will drive you into a corner and allow nothing but the obvious character choice. If you explore/learn/prep a scene with structured play even the most cliched character will be more interesting and you will grow into a better actor…

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 5/14/19

Six of us ! Perfect size class. Everyone got a good workout, we focused on some moments, improvised, played !
Aaron as the housewife answering the door in an improv scene. Heidi siting on the dock(of the Bay) drinking a beer from Coldman. Kate as the werewolf bartender on the make. Brian as a serial killer being interviewed. Casey doing a prep as a split personality Shrink for a pilot.

Thoughts…

MUTED TAKES… It’s never a bad idea to watch your work without sound. It reveals your physical presence and lets you focus on the body movement and comfort. It can be quite revealing. A good way to use tape. And do the opposite. Listen to just sound.

IMPULSES… Heidi found a different reactive sound and moment when we worked on her reaction to the “Have you seen those guys?” line. Let’s call it the snort take. She broke that unconscious rhythm… by just listening and reacting in the moment… and made a delightful beat between the characters. Often as we work on material we develop unintentional rhythms. As you watch your work see if you find those moments in your takes. When you hear those grunts, snorts, chuckles, sounds that emerge in your exploration…

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 5/7/19

Seven of us…. John and Brian auditing… welcome. John as the boss at the pilgrim recreation village. Brian reading off camera and cold reading Art the bartender. Casey and Heidi doing a wedding night scene from Catastrophe. Jackson working on his first audition scene as the dizzy football player… again for a kids show. Jamine doing a ‘first encounter scene’ on a train from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Thoughts…

FIRST BEATS OR MOMENTS… A foot massage, working behind a bar, and watching a fellow traveler were all opening beats tonight. And all off then revealed character before the first word of dialogue. Those beats/activities let us see your character and absorb their presence(that word again) and they are an invitation to your creativity. Start your work in the midst of your character’s life and let us see who you are. Out of that life you can speak. Without life the dialogue is just meaningless words. Don’t show us who the character is… allow us/the camera to see who you are.

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 4/23/19

Seven of us…. Jamie back for a visit doing a shop girl being questioned. Jackson working on a self submit for a kids show as the teenage henchman… overcome by a farting dog… it IS a kids show. We did lots of work on a scene from the pilot of Suits…Heidi and Aaron as the sharp paralegal and Casey and Chris as the attorneys in disguise.

Working on the Suits material was a memory and prep challenge. There was just a lot of material. And this was a pilot where traditionally there are longer scenes that let us get to know these new characters. Thankfully this was good writing that avoided an abundance of exposition Working the material on hand held camera and shooting the whole scene as a performance is also a huge challenge. It’s as close as we can get to being on a set.

A nice night of theater. I much appreciate the insightful and supportive nature you guys are bringing to our workouts. It’s allowing us to take set- ready auditions to the next level. When you as artists work at higher and more challenging levels… your performance muscles and your talents grow. It’s pleasure to be a part of this process.

GREAT NEWS!
Aaron booked that part of the newscaster she put up in class. Using our workouts to prepare for auditions is great. Jackson brought in a self tape he’d already submitted… good process as well.

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 4/16/19

Six of us… Heidi seeing a long lost lover from a sit com script. Kate trying to do her new job while encountering a charming painter from a sitcom pilot. Rob, recently dumped and needing to crash with an old friend at exactly the wrong time, probably a single camera comedy. Chris proudly displaying his ‘man cave’ to Casey who’s a bit overwhelmed at the way-too-cool dream room and uninhibited talk about sex… from a film.

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 4/9/19

Seven of us with Brianna doing a working audit… welcome.
Jackson as the new wave masseuse. Arron the hot preacher’s wife. Heidi and Casey doing a squabbling couple. Chris as the just-dumped old friend with bad timing. Brianna as the flare gun totting girl being interrogated

Thoughts…

FIRST IMPRESSIONS… When you walk in the room. Heidi said it best… something like… “the times I just did what I wanted in an audition were always the best.” (Apologies for my rendition of your words… but the idea is there.) The challenge in auditions is to have the confidence that you can show them what the scene should be. You have artistic power as an actor. They can write the words… but only actors can make them stand up off the page and come to life. That’s the artistic challenge. They give you the material and ask you to show up in their office and perform for them what you think the life in the scene should be. 20 years of casting taught me this. Casting folks start making judgments about you the moment you walk into the room. That is human nature and we all do it in life. That subtle level of human judgement is a language the we all speak with our bodies and our beings… and we all understand it. If you look at someone your human instincts are to form ideas, and impressions instantly. That’s a survival instinct built into our DNA. That human judgement of you happens the moment you walk in the room. That doesn’t mean be cocky. It simply means that you are ready to perform…

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 4/2/19

Eight of us… Emily doing a working audit. Alex back after a long absence… both welcome.

Jackson as the disappointed Christmas shopper. Kate getting hit on at a bar. Heidi and Casey as the bickering couple in counseling. Chris being driven to revenge by unwanted robocalls. Alex showing up on an old friend’s doorstep at the wrong time. Emily as the compulsive talking redneck Southern belle.

What a nice night of theater. Great supportive commentary made it more so.

We worked on scenes from a play, TV scripts, features, and short films. Though the styles may vary, the work was to bring the material to life; to grow your talents… the actor’s ability to be in the scene.

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 3/26/19

Eight of us (including me)… BIG class, lots of different material.

Casey as the survivalist doing a long rant at a family dinner. Aaron revealing herself as a witch… not a bitch. Chris as a sheriff interrogating a guy who shot and killed someone. Heidi working on Burn This for a third callback to the Actors’ Studio… the silent film version. Sharif as the playboy bartender confronted by the police. Jackson getting cake delivered in the middle of a frantic housekeeping disaster. Jack as the flare gun shooting party boy.

Thoughts…

IMPROV… For our purposes IMPROV means creating life. It can consist of added words or actions or looks or pauses… like all the movement and activity we saw last night. Such as… Heidi messaging her feet, brushing against him… Sherif working at the bar, Casey with the butt look, Jackson frantically sweeping. None of that was written but without that creativity the night would have been a series of actors reading lines. What we saw instead were the characters’ lives in different moments. Without the creation of life in the scenes it is boring to watch. Don’t be boring. ..

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 3/19/19

Three of us… Small classes rock. Sometimes life gets in the way of out intentions.

Jackson as the creepy Economics student. Kate as the pregnant baker getting news about her Father.

Thoughts…

THOUGHTS Vs WORDS… The character’s words serve us two ways. They help describe the life. And tonight in both scenes we saw the first rather lifeless takes and practiced words. Our work was to discover and inhabit the life. Secondly… We use the words to express the character’s thoughts… not their words but their thoughts… what they mean… what they want… their inner life. Our learning/preparation should be about learning the character’s thoughts…

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 3/5/19

Six of us. Perfect size class. And this was a FUN workout.

Chris on a stakeout in an ice cream truck. Casey and Heidi doing a word-perfect Aaron Sorkin rapid dialogue scene of lovers fighting on a set. Kate dealing with a car salesman suitor on the sidewalk after just meeting him. Rob as the bartender interrogated by the police about a girls death.

Thoughts…

FUN… I don’t buy the old belief that you have to suffer for your craft. Some do. But you’re not condemned to a hovel and meager rations to develop your talent. More importantly… anything that we do is enhanced by having fun. Now of course… art, music, acting, sports all require work and dedication. However preparation and performance are enhanced by a sense of fun. The irony of acting is that only an actor would say, “I had a great night,” after dying as Romeo or Juliet. But the joy is there in the remembrance of execution. If your preparation process is infused with fun and PLAY you’re more likely to get to the core or the life in the scene. And finally when you do perform…

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 2/26/19

Five of us. Aaron working on power characters as a woman police chief. Casey doing two scenes from Coldman full of banter with his grandpa. Heidi getting appointed as Secretary of state… another power character. Chris getting set up for a date with a troll who lives in a dumpster.

Thoughts…

YOU… That’s the word for a character based on YOU. It means focusing on getting the character’s mind. It’s you but you’re thinking like the character. Perhaps they’re your core character. Playing yourself but leaning into a certain part of your persona to create character. This was in the notes of 2/14/19. Transformational acting is one style of acting. Playing character’s based on YOU is another style. They’re both just tools. My teacher used to say… “Get the character’s mind and you’ve got the character.”

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 2/19/19

Just three of us… Small classes rock ! Casey as the ‘aw shucks’ Lifetime xmas guy. Katie the warehouse worker escaping a fire.

Both these scenes were preps for auditions today so these thoughts will be brief reminders that can be used to focus as you prepare for today’s auditions. BREAK A LEG!!!

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 2/5/19

Five of us… Kate’s first workout doing Deana the flare-gun-shooter. Casey as the British constable tracking down the bed sheets. Heidi having that first romantic conversation on the freezing streets of Chicago. Rob as the harried doctor surprised by his Mom in his exam room. Good workout. Supporting and insightful commentary. Ours is a collaborative craft.

Style…

Interesting that style and tone emerged as an actable issue. Most often a style or tone established by stage directions gets in the way. But here ‘film noir’ influenced Casey’s approach to the better. I suppose it’s just like sitcom or soap as a direction but actors must be careful that it is not a general motivation that lacks the specificity of the WHO WHAT WHERE of the material and character. Style must be grounded in …

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 1/29/19

Seven of us… Casey working on three Coldman scenes. Aaron being interviewed at a dating sight and then lowering the boom on her friends in a bar… from a sitcom. Rob getting fired from a bookstore and kidnapped for his multiverse knowledge… from a movie script. Ammar as a juror who saw something in an courthouse elevator he shouldn’t have… from an episodic. Heidi and Christ working on an scene from a play for a self submit… very challenging and dark and disturbing writing and characters.

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 1/16/19

Seven of us. Ammar sitting in and auditing… welcome. Heidi working on Burn This… a very talky play. Rob as the Doctor “vibing” with a worried mother from a pilot. Casey working on Coldman. Aaron working a scene from Will and Grace for a showcase. Chris prepping a self tape as a gay gallery owner arguing with his partner on an opening night that’s disrupted by a gunman.

Interesting class structure tonight. We did one round focused on repeated takes and adjustments rather than our normal two rounds. It seemed like the right approach for the material and the time demands. I’m interested what you guys thought !

Patrick’s Acting Class Notes: 1/8/19

FIRST CLASS OF 2019…!

Six of us. Rob sitting in as a writer/director’s voice on Coldman. Casey working on two scenes from Coldman. Aaron as the sympathetic girl friend of a vet suffering PTSD. Heidi as the ‘SHY’ shopgirl. Chris as the over-wrought father of a 4year old with a broken leg.