Four of us. Michael as the fast talking smart aleck (confident) lawyer. Aaron as the office chick with a healthy dose of ‘attitude’. Jean breaking the ice with the cute girl in the office at the beginning of their romance.
Here… its time to talk about cliches, familiar characters, stereotypes… or maybe what we can call a voice or an instrument that writers use. Both Aaron’s office chick, and Michael’s lawyer are the grating wise-cracking voice of conflict, judgement, antie-stablishment… and humor. Jean did the slightly shy likable kid we all root for. As to the smart aleck… We all have seen and know this kind of character. And we all have had our moments inhabiting this attitude in our lives. And that’s the challenge with this kind of character. We have to tune into this wise ass inner rhythm and allow ourselves to listen and respond with our inner smart aleck. At the risk of being repetitious… you must spend time as this character in order to get them into your body.
Five of us. Rob doing a plaid pants character for Limoney Snicket. Aaron reworking a lawyer for a pitch. Jean as a stoner high on a brownie talking to the cops. Casey working on a scene from Fargo for his scene class.
Four of us. Jean as the pot-selling youth confronting his back-handing Dad. Aaron as the whacked out sister who just left her husband to live with her brother. Casey hitting the dumpster for a date with a troll for a showcase scene.
We talked about audition nerves… for me the only remedy is practice.
Four of us… Aaron as a whacky wife with her seriously dying husband for Angie Tribeca. Jean working again on Good will Hunting. Zahn working a movie role… spiritually broken and of course drunken native. Oh, how the white man can write.
Six of us counting me. Dana the publicists with her green client. Rob as the aspiring actor with a sexy partner. Jean doing a scene from Good Will Hunting. Campbell as John Sin the newly named and very determined actor in an audition scene from a play he’s writing. Casey doing a cold read as the reluctant new author.
Eight of us with Campbell auditing after a long absence… Welcome back. Michael doing two guest star roles emerging from a super hero GAS attack. Rob bitching at this brother in a strip club in a cold read of a script that they’re developing. Aaron complaining to her boy friend as he’s being hauled away on a gurney for a showcase. Danah brushing off a date-seeking zealous car salesman. Zahn working on that movie scene seeking justice and revenge as he confronts a sheriff in the doorway to his home . Ally discussing her intentions of punishing the entire male race (ouch) over tea.
Good night of intelligent actors working together to improve performances. Often it’s a pleasure for me to sit back and just listen to the collective wisdom.
Five of us. Lots of takes. Time to play. Lots of progress on the scenes. Fun. Aaron bringing back the paralegal for the last time…..I’ll be sad to see her go. Gaby the sexy reporter looking for a piece of pie from the senator. This was a scene for her reel based on House of Cards. Tracy the “old dog” detective with the rookie partner. This was a movie scene for an audition. Aiman auditing.
Good workout. Everybody working on different issues. Effective commentary…. girl talk too.
Six of us. Great variety of material. Most of it currently auditioning. Aaron bringing back the paralegal. Rob doing a lawyer audition for Fargo. Will as a hip teacher for a movie. Tracy as a mayor dressing down the sheriff for a movie. Casey finding a body in a rug and a second scene throwing someone out of his wedding… one film and one TV.
That was a nice night of some good work.
Just three of us. Tracy as the lawyer concerned about his client’s ball…. or is it balls? And Aaron bringing back Chloe…. my favorite fairy.
Oh! the summer doldrums! At least that’s what I hope it is. And we got to talk…. a lot…. maybe too much. But that’s what happens when you get two “older” actors in a room telling war stories. You were very patient, Aaron… thank you. Thanks for a good workout.
Just the three of us. It was lawyer night at the Elephant. Tracy having the guy by his one good ball. Lauren coming back as the lawyer applying for a job but being mistaken for a secretary. We certainly have enshrined lawyers as the stars of our TV world.
These two scenes have significant amounts of humor… though they’re dealing in situations that are not all that funny at first glance. It’s classic “dramedy” writing. Perhaps the rule is play the drama and let the comedy play you. We’re really laughing at the absurdity of the scenes and the characters may or may not even be aware of the comedy. So we’re laughing at the situation and not the characters. It’s one of those moments where the more sincere and unaware you are the funnier it will be. Perhaps your guy knows it’s funny, Tracy, and he cant’ help but enjoy it a bit. But he’s a lawyer and is constrained by a code of conduct.
Thanks for all your hard work. You both were nicely open and supportive in your commentary and that’s always appreciated.
Five of us… the dog days of summer…. small classes rock. Will the head of HR with an odd sense of humor. Lauren once again as the killer in the cab. Aaron finding her dead doggie. Andrei popping in for a quick conversation and I’m working on the issues he raised.
Tonight was a bit of a struggle. What I saw was actors working hard on their craft….. and solving the problems with play. There’s a big lesson here for all of us. Thanks for all your work.
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.
Six of us… Andre the contractor making a pitch. Tracy the high class lawyer. Lauren the killer. Casey grieving for his Dad. Will the magic warrior, and Aaron as the fairy…. Oh why did we have to wait so long.
No real theme tonight. Great variety of writing. Sit com fairies to serial killers. Love the observations about style…. playing magic and fairies. This was another long class. I find that the commentary of late has been very enriching and thus the longer sessions. At least that’s the excuse for this week. I want to raise this question in class and get some feedback from you guys. Thanks for all your hard work.
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.
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.
Just 4 of us and Casey coming in late. Small classes rock. Gaby breaking up with her boyfriend. Zach sharing his pot with the cops. And Aaron sharing her cold cynical self with the cops. Casey worked on a guest star scene for an audition privately after class and I sent him notes.
We had two issues. One was technical…. Gaby dealing with the dialogue of a classic cliched sitcom for a showcase. While Zack and Aaron were developing character… both thru physicality. Interesting that as we worked on dialogue with Gaby….. character became clearer.
That was fun.
Five of us tonight… Dominic as the skeptical ghostbuster. Zahn having a serious bout of indigestion. Katherine the naughty librarian. Gaby the prima dona and also as another witness to the apocalypse.
Some nice work done tonight. There were some really good takes.
Five of us… Dominic auditing and doing the odd/cheery mortician. Zahn the angry native con on the Res. Casey assuaging his broken heart by being hired as a break up artist. Will bringing back the gruff NYC cop. Aaron the cheerful unflappable tanning salon chick.
From the deep dark woods to the bright lights of the tanning salon…. There was a nice range of material tonight….. comedy, dramedy and pure dark drama. Most of the scenes tonight were actively in prep for performance or audition. Only one came from the library
The range of physicality was an issue tonight. We explored the idea of a vocabulary of behavior/movement/mime. The one rule of physical life is that you should pursue/explore/prep a path that makes you feel comfortable and grounded within the scene. Each office will have their own rules about movment to be sure. But it is my experience that most offices allow you to move. So any admonition about not moving in auditions is accomplishing nothing but squelching creativity. In your prep/exploration you must allow yourself to move as the character within the environment. It’s the only way your body will become comfortable. Once you’ve developed a physical life in the scenic circumstances your body will know where it is and what its doing and it will instinctively know what to do. You can then do a performance just standing or sitting and your body will still have the muscle memory of your prep and it will know where it is and how to act. One of the benefits of a workout class is that you can watch yourself as well as other actors and develop a range of behavior that feels right to your talent and looks good on camera. BUT please don’t let what “they say” about having to just stand still in a CD office limit your exploration. Your prep is your most creative time. Use it expansively. Play and explore and discover!
Six of us. Aaron being rejected by her stupid boy friend. Jared working on a project he’s shooting as the small town doctor. Casey the comic book creator. Lauren working on a scene she auditioned for Longmeir as a train hopping gutter punk. Will working on a scene for a movie he’s doing… his first detective. And Jared auditing.
If there was a theme tonight it was getting your body into the scene. “When your body knows where it is and what it’s doing….. It knows how to act.” And if your body feels like its in a CD’s office instead of being in the scene….. then you’ll be nervous and unbelievable. We are empathetic animals and if you are uncomfortable we will feel it. If your prep can thrust/ease/marinate your body into the scene then we can empathetically live in the scene with you. That’s our craft. If we as actors as performers believe that we are in the scene…. then the people who are watching can believe it too.
Seven of us… Casey a “gung ho” civil war soldier. Lauren the ditz and her new roommate. Robbie hunting zombies in New Jersey. Tracy the governor’s man in the art gallery. Zahn the cop placating the grieving father. Ari… saying hello…. good to see you and I hope we’ll see more.
We had two scenes that were preparation for auditions. It’s such a great insight when you guys bring in material that you’re actually prepping for auditions or for the set. It allows us insight and hands on experience with the writing that is currently out there.
Some nights a theme appears. Tonight…. character. So we tweaked character. You must remember that acting is a process. From the moment you pick up a script until we see it on the screen we are in the process of exploring and discovering character and the life in the scene. Sometimes character appears early in process. Sometimes it accumulates and marinates and appears much later. BUT the exploration and discovery of the life and the character is always PLAY. In theater or scene class we have weeks of rehearsal and study and feedback to develop a full blown character. In our workouts and in the camera world we have much less time. But to me…. our work is play. I think that ends up being the theme of today’s thoughts.
Four of us…Stephanie monologuing and “doing” her Mom. Robbie the smart ass kid and his flare gun getting his comeuppance from a cop. Tracy the serial killer….. also confronting a cop. “This must be TV writing.”
Small classes rock. Tales were told. We explored interesting ideas…. styles…. play/prep….breathing. There might have even been revelations…. It was a nice workout… a nice intimate night. Thanks for all your hard work.
Five of us… Aaron borrowing a cup of sugar for a showcase scene. Tracy confronting the cops who are looking for his daughter. Zahn extracting favors from a parolee. And Will doing a second round as a novice zombie hunter.
Is this the spring break syndrome? Just three of us. Aaron on a blind date…. prepping a scene for a showcase. Lauren doing a callback as a shoe-loving-bigger-than-life character.
We worked in two areas tonight. Size and pace.
Where the issue of size and pace become problematic is in adjustments. When you’re told the “worst possible direction” by a CD or director…. “more energy/size and pace”….being the good actor that we all are we just jump to the result. What you must do is find reasons to motivate this adjustment. Energy and pace is external/result. Our job is to take that direction and internalize it. Make it organic. Ground it in character.
Five of us…. Jana the hard drinking soon to be horror flick victim. Katherine the military wife rousing “Amens” from the crowd. Lauren the shoe loving, man eating, but still lovable husband hunter. And Casey the fireman pulling people out of burning buildings…. arriving late to work on a rush audition.
Generalizing….Ladies, your random selections of material had much in common. These women characters were all a familiar writing device. They were chicks with “mouths on um”. They’ve got a lot to say…. and they do…. and that means lots of dialogue. Probably all from the pen of a man. As a pure writers’ device…. they can deliver a lot of exposition. As a character they can also deliver a lot of comedy. For the audience they bring us a character we all know and love…. or love to hate. And lets face it these were not the classiest dames.
It may seem uncreative to approach these kinds of characters as a type…. or a writing device…. (or perhaps more gently put) as familiar characters. But as a framing device for understanding how to approach them…. it’s important to consider how a character fits into the writing/the story. When you see a character like this…. they have given you a big frame to create in. They need and want a girl who can fill in a lot of space and energy. They want someone who can play.
From sitcoms to serial killers. Six of us… this was a fun night. Ari as the clueless dinner date. Will discovering the world of zombies. Casey the serial killer. Coco, pregnant, and unwilling to dig up her mother. Aaron a neurotic nurse.
Working in an audition format in front of camera in a room full of strangers is a challenge. And because it’s so important to our careers…. And because actors are kept at the whim of the “man behind the curtain”…. we actors develop misconceptions and myths and FEAR of auditions. Most pernicious is the idea of being a “nice actor” and not wanting to do anything wrong in the CD’s office. That makes actors careful….. AND that is so uncreative! The audition arena is a gateway. It’s a performance challenge and the industry believes “if you can do it in an office you can do it on a set.” So you must learn to do it in an office.
Just the four of us. Small classes rock. Lots of tape. We got to see some subtle adjustments because the work was at such a high level. Jana the sour puss daughter rummaging through her Mom’s stuff only to find herself. Lauren bringing back the billboard graffiti artist. And Casey… somewhere out there on the Aspergers spectrum.
Interesting that these are three characters are somewhat “communication challenged” people…. in that they are not letting people in. And what we’re seeing in all three scenes is their struggle to connect to other characters. All three have the same arc… FROM struggling to communicate… TO a more satisfying connection. That arc is inspiring to our empathetic audience. So the emotional challenge is to start off isolated and then allow yourself to have the revelation that comes from connection. When that arc happens to you the actor/character…. the audience get to experience that same emotional journey that ends with a more satisfying connection.
A nice night. From fairies and fashionistas to abusers and killers. Andy and Dana were doing material they were auditioning and here is something that we all can be proud of. Zahn booked a pilot that he worked on in class…. so you… this class…. had a hand in his success. There is a collective intelligence and workouts like ours can tap into that power. Jana the fairy in training. Stephanie the ditzy fashionista. Andy cold reading the raging abusive ass hole we all love to hate. Lauren cold reading the anarchist community college girl. Dana as the bad boy loving waitress. And Casey going to the dark side as the “hacktivist” killer.
The audition arena… the work we do is not limited to auditions. My favorite definition of talent is “the ability of the actor to put himself in the characters shoes.” So that’s what we do in our workouts, We work on your talent. Major to this effort is the necessity of putting your body into the scene and allowing the circumstances to effect you. “If your body knows where it is and what it’s doing…. it knows how to act.” There was a great range of physicality here tonight… From Andy and Casey storming into the scene to Jana sound asleep. If your body feels like it’s in the scene we will empathetically be in the scene too. Conversely… if your body is a nervous actor in a CD office…. we’ll know it.
Just 5 of us. Lots of takes. Leisurely paced and out early. Zahn prepping for a film test as the Indian sheriff. Katherine sunbathing and being watched. Colette negotiating benefits with a friend. And Casey rehearsing for the Samsung gadget geek.
It was nice as always to see work on active projects. I encourage you guys to bring in stuff that you’re auditioning. It helps us all see what’s out there and where current screen writing is going.
Small class…. rainy and wet and everyone just stayed home by the fire. Elizabeth auditing. Tyler the druggie. Aaron as the cop’s wife. Edythe again as the Bitch or was she a Diva?
12… that’s a lot of actors in such a small space! But it was a fun night. And lots of thoughts. Casey the geek. Liz and Aaron both as the lonely cop’s wife. Tyler the guy who has a way with women. Will the reformed alcoholic still trying to please Dad. Stephanie playing the CIA agent. Campbell a bad dream of an agent. Edythe the soap opera bitch. And Zahn as the charming yet dangerous crook.
Mine or the audience’s? Classic acting says that the actor’s imagination is most important. But here…. when a character’s casual short hand look off camera can create a whole room…… to ignore such a tool is to be foolish. Yes our own imaginations are crucial. But so’s the audience’s. And…. It’s a physical tool for the actor. “If your body knows what it’s doing…. It knows how to act.” And yes, ultimately….. it all depends on imagination. If your imagination is engaged and you are seeing and feeling the elements in the scene…. so too will the audience be able to empathetically experience the world as you are imagining it.
Wow…. BIG CLASS. Just the 12 of us…! Stephanie as the CIA agent. Aaron on a blind date. Zahn the SEXY COP….. yes I did say “Sexy”…. …. at least that’s what ALL the women said. Ashley the apprentice fairy. Will having a hard time in the hospital. Rob in the confessional. Dana packing up the office. Casey in Zombieland. Elizabeth giving a tour of the office. And Campbell as a bevy of audition nightmares.
First of all the commentary was much more focused. Thanks!…. but with that many people we still went long and your patience was appreciated. We got into a discussion about what you can do in a CD’s office. The answer is a whole lot more than you think and a whole lot more than “THEY SAY”…… I’m not advocating that you ‘moon’ the CD! BUT we are all too timid in the office and on the set. You all have way too many voices in your heads telling you that you have to be the good actor in the office and be careful and not offend the CD. That’s a load of BULLSHIT ! Think of what you see in our workouts. We stretch the boundaries…. but we never see anything that’s over the line. If you want to work as an actor….. In the words of that famous 1970’s philosopher…. “No more Mr Nice Guy.”
Being careful…. is not being creative…. it’s the opposite.
Too many thoughts. Too many notes. Lots of good work.
Eight of us… Zahn as Buck the creep and as a boat captain. Will in the hospital with his tough girlfriend. Stephanie the wounded CIA agent. Katherine the sexy werewolf. Aaron fending off the amorous car salesman. Casey the cub reporter for the Onion. And Campbell as the homeless chatterbox.
Modern writing has such variety. But the most common thread is sex/relationship. Only Zahn’s captain and Campbell’s psychotic were without sexual content and relationship possibilities. That shouldn’t be lost on us as performers. “All you need is love.” When constructing characters the pathway is often their sense of humor or sexuality. Those two elements tell us so much about a character.
Seven of us. Zahn being charming. Will sharing the secrets of stealing cars. Aaron connecting to a car salesman. Casey going full geek. Katherine playing a werewolf/bridesmaid. And Tinsel sitting in to audit and giving us some insight into the Twilight world of werewolves.
Most of tonight’s work was character oriented. Everyone came in well prepared. Commentary was full of gems tonight as well as supportive. I saw a group of actors working/playing hard at their craft.
I always walk away from our workouts like tonight thinking that a small community of people working together is a most rewarding process to be a part of. It reminds me of finishing a great rehearsal for a play. Here we are all working on our individual talents… with the support and insight of our fellow artists. Acting is a collaborative craft… and tonight was an example of how rewarding it can be.
Thanks for you work and sharing your talent and insights.
Busy night. Long night. Will as the righteous clone. Martin the righteous son. Casey the righteous virtual detective. Campbell the righteous actor. Elizabeth the righteous paralegal….. There seems to be a theme here…. Oh why the hell not? It’s a stretch but…. Aaron the righteous music critic. And Zahn the guy trying to get laid at the wedding. Bada bing! That was exhausting.
The shy quiet Lise sat in and audited. And we had two writers… Ryan and Matt…. sitting in and watching Martin work on a scene they had written for a feature. They both had insightful comments from the writer’s POV. Which brings up the subject of writing.
Huge variety last night…. scenes from pilots, films, and plays….. and even some scene writing explicitly for this arena. Some of it was good…. some bad. Good writing usually goes right into your head…. bad writing is harder to learn. Will found that out. Lots of exposition….. which is nice when it’s good writing which reveals character like the paralegal Liz worked on. Lots of playful patter. And two detective scenes!
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.
Small class… they rock. Zahn as a man on the run. Katherine charming her facebook friend. Martin exploring necessexuality…. our new word. And Casey working on his Mentalists job and cold reading Katherine’s facebook friend.
No clear theme emerged in the evening. What I saw was four actors engaging their craft…. and challenging their talents. Everyone was well prepared and therefore the work was at a higher level. Most of the characters were in your wheel house…. roles that were good for you. There were different styles of writing…. novella, sitcom, episodic, movie. There’s something very satisfying about spending an evening with your fellow artists as you work on your craft.
A most satisfying evening was had by all. Thanks for all your work.
Big class. Fun class. Some funny material and some very strong work. And there were Twinkies for everyone! Katherine the singing maid. Tyler the angry young actor. Casey the likable real estate agent losing the keys to the car. Andy the comic and his shrink. Dana the 1960’s Southern belle CIA spy in Berlin. Alex(welcome back) comparing notes on her date. Matin the Southern smooth talker. And Robert auditing and chiming in with some funny…. interesting commentary.
So the theme of the night was character. My favorite definition of talent is the ability of the actor to be in the character’s situation. Sometimes that’s a stretch and sometimes it’s just a slight adjustment.
We saw a range last night. For example… Casey playing very close to himself all the way to Alex’s whacko….. but we would agree that both created and played characters. And both were character revealing scenes.
What a nice class. There was some good work done tonight. Martin and Susy….. new blood…. well met. Tyler as the fast talking Wall Street wannabe. Gaby tracking down lost love… on the subway. Susy a sophisticated soap opera bitch showing her “street side.” And Martin a smooth talking Southerner.
An obvious theme tonight. Letting the scene effect you…… Rather than coming in with such a strong emotion or intention or objective that it all becomes one note. Perhaps that’s what we talked about as the declarative part of our process that we saw tonight in several peoples work but most specifically in Martin’s body. The physical gesture…. the leaning in… that declarative posture is easy to see. And too…We all recognize a body that is more open to being effected by the life in the scene… that body invites the camera. It’s relaxed. One posture is connected/grounded into the emotional and physical circumstances…. and one is the declarative part of our process. Hopefully we rush through these declarative moments as merely one step in our exploration. Getting beyond this stage to the performance level was the focus of the work tonight. That was because you were all well prepared and ready to play at this higher level.
This was a predictably small pre-Thanksgiving gathering. BUT…. Small classes rock. And luckily…. everybody did long scenes. Tyler as the lovelorn stoner. Victor the puffed up financial consultant spinning a tale of sexual conquest. Andy the smart aleck comedian ‘on the couch.’ And Ms. Fiona as the voice of reason from the back row…. If I were locked out would I pound on the door? Is that rude? No. Please pound next time.
Crowd sourcing. Love that concept. It resonates unlimited creativity… the collective intelligence. If we….. in a very focused environment….. are able to tap into that energy…. it elevates. Clearly for all of us that enriches our efforts. Commentary…. who knew?
And tonight it was….. Tyler breaking down a door. Casey on a killing spree. Gaby getting engaged. Tristan getting interrogated. And Andy getting weird.
As usual there is a wide variety of writing and situations. It’s modern writing. It’s not Shakespeare….. and Sir Will would not likely write for CSI… as Gaby rightly pointed out. But this is the writing that we as artists are asked to bring to life. From preparation to performance…. that’s the process we pursue in our craft.
Lots of takes. A long night… they all are lately. I forgot commentary to Tyler’s performance tonight. My bad. To my surprise… Tyler spoke up for his dose of comments last night… he was looking forward to that part of the process. And that should make all of you proud. There is a collective intelligence…… even when you can’t find the right words(Casey). But the respect and insight that we hear in our workouts is often inspired.
In my generation…. throughout out all the years of my acting training….. it was verboten to comment on another actor’s performance in a class.
First the prep class.
Just Gaby and Susy and I. Good workout. I think you both saw anew the importance of story.
Then Casey doing a very out there odd character. Gaby as the sexy werewolf. Chad as the imaginary sergeant . Andy doing “spoken word.” Tyler winning his girl back. Will the cocky kid.
It seems all the work tonight centered around character…. as it did last week. Character is used two ways. You can introduce a character who’s fully formed and the audience will recognize her/him instantly. These characters are often cliches and we see them in guest star and co-star rolls on TV and in small parts in films. Or you can introduce a character and reveal the character through a series of scenes. But even here you must know who this character is and bring him/her to the set almost fully formed and let us watch them change and grow thru the piece. We’re always seeking to answer the Who What Where.
Casey searching for maturity. Chad pursuing paranoia. Rob Looking for this grove. Andy Trying to find somewhere to spend Thanksgiving. And Dana looking for someone to take the legal bar exam.
A night of nascent character building…. this theme wound through all the work tonight. And it should. Character is the foundation. Once you know who the character is in your body…. you can be comfortable and listen and react…. This is the area of acting that’s best described as magic. In every body’s performance we all saw takes where we could see the character…. and takes where it was muddled. Chad found ways to contain/center his energy. Casey shed some movement and found maturity. Dana found her buried beneath her office demeanor. Andy found him by bringing in the emotional history of the character. Rob found him in different ways of expressing his room temperature IQ.
Casey at the reunion telling bad jokes. Will a callback as the EMT. Ashley having a tough time in New York. Gaby and the Spanish study group.
DEBATE NIGHT! Lots of takes and plenty of time to implement adjustments. Don’t underestimate that skill. Being able to hear direction and incorporate it immediately into a scene is a most impressive, absolutely necessary skill. Doing multiple takes is a great way to exercise that challenge.
As usual the commentary was supportive and insightful. The skill of being able to take adjustments starts with being able to listen to a director…. and to be able to talk and ask questions. BUT most important is being able to listen constructively. When we engage ourselves in conversation about our work we learn to listen and be flexible.
Lee playing all the OFF CAMERA ladies. Casey talking to his stroke silenced Dad. Will pulling the plug on his child. Zahn in a wheel chair and then cancer. Tyler the crooked sheriff. Jennifer the bartender flirting with a broken hearted werwolf. And Andy getting beaten by the woman he loves.
Modern writing covers a lot of ground.
Heavy?…. no! What a fun night!
In our Acting Class, we went from dying babies, to dying fathers, to killers, to cancer, to a wheel chair, to a proposal(the first step in divorce), and finally a broken hearted werewolf! Only actors would think this is fun.
Lots of issues. Some good challenging work. Let me confess that strong emotional writing is fun for me too. It sends shock waves through out talent. Afterwords we all feel relieved and worn out because it has an emotional impact on our personas. It requires brave actors who are willing to go the dark side to reveal the things we seldom talk about. It’s a noble part of our craft. But after this kind of work you have to shake it off… or like me…. take a long hot shower.
First the prep class.
Tyler, Andy, Caitlin, Dotty….. Basically we played for an hour. Structured play, games, accents, improv exercises, changed roles…. all of these and more are in the handout I gave you. These are adjustments I use in directing, coaching, and in my own acting. Rather than trying to pound a script into my head I prefer playing it in there.
Then Lee auditing and reading off camera. Rob dealing with his Philippine wife and her recalcitrant son. Casey the somewhat stiff/about to be dumped guy on a date. Andy, Tyler, Caitlin and Dotty all in the midst of a clumsy proposal. Ari doing a cold read of a guy with a broken heart. Katherine the sexy office Babe. Dana the smartest paralegal. Will the sexy resident and his love struck friend. And Zahn the charming scary sleaze ball.
Amie the silent auditor. Jim as the football scout. Zahn the charming killer. Casey an LA newbie insisting on a night on the town. Andy the killer boat builder. Cean the NPR radio personality. Chad the drugged and “damaged” night club owner. Gaby cold reading the cub reporter. And Dana pregnant and dragging her mom out of the grave.
When we have this many scenes….. the vastness of modern life and culture reveals itself. Shakespeare’s world was limited to the wars between kings and queens and comedies of spirits and identity. We have sports and internet and night clubs and radio and the whole spread of modern life and characters. And don’t kid yourself…. if Shakespeare were alive he’d be writing for Aaron Sorkin and collecting Emmys.
“It’s so nice to have a woman around the house.” No offense guys.
Ariana as the erstwhile ever so innocent soap chef. Casey and Ari as the guy (read “dick”) who get his comeuppance. Chad the busy Assistant Director pulling wooden hangers out of his ass. Tyler as the Jock we all love to hate (I’m having 8th grade flashbacks). And Andy as the American accented funeral director who’s having too much fun on the job.
Writing for Film and TV provides such a variety of characters and situations… from a club late at night. to a break room, to a production trailer, to a funeral parlor, to a house in the middle of nowhere….. and it’s a creative challenge for you to find a way for your body to be in those specific circumstances. What a fun night! We explored. We worked on character and style. There were cliches(horror, soap, gay, comedy, metro) that led us to more specific choices.
Andy and the snow leopard. Cean the dealer doing a snow job. Zahn’s killer weed. Casey the “socially inept” nerd making You Tube videos. Chad talking to a table full of adultery. Tyler doing mean Darrell in the Friend zone. And Will losing his EMT job.
Two interesting issues tonight:
Anger is a result.
Your challenge is to find the pain that causes anger.
Stage directions… especially emotional ones (sad angry happy tired) are a suggestion.
If you follow then religiously it stops exploration. So just eliminate them or do the opposite. They can easily dig a rut that is hard to get out of. Just hear my voice in the back of your mind saying, “Don’t get stuck on stage directions!”
Casey got dumped. Andy got rid of his partner. And Ms. Fiona got to play the letter-writing, Thanksgiving-obsessed girl friend.
I hope the babbling ideas about the exchange of feelings in a room made sense. The simplest statement is that if you feel it…. we will feel it. So if your body is *in* the circumstances and reacts to the life in a scene…. our bodies will experience it. It works on stage, on camera, and in the audition arena. We are empathetic beings. That is one of our unique human qualities. People who have no empathy are labeled sociopaths. On the other hand people who feel too much are dysfunctional…. or in our craft they are indulgent… we frequently find them outside auditions talking to the walls. Perhaps the simplest way to say it is that if you don’t know what you’re doing in a scene…. We will know it !