Again, this is so long I gotta break it up.
I got a good grade on my ten line scene. Full points, he liked my answers to the questions, and he actually was bragging about this/reading them to people in class. So flattering! About my homework--he said "this is exciting stuff" about my questions. Loved the answers on tactics, descriptions, objective, "I would have a ball playing all this." He said to the class in general, "I was so impressed with what you did."
For the record, here's the sorts of grades he gives on papers about your acting:
NI = needs improvement
E(ff) = effective at telling the story
F = fair (it's ok)
As for my performance:
The following things he said were fair: diction, projection, follow through, cue-pickups, topping, cut backs.
The following things he said were effective: my vocal variety, tactics, expectation level, bold choices, reaching the audience, physicalizers, agility, dynamics.
The following needed improvement: memorization. I agree there.
Overall good stuff: “bold choices, commitment to tactics, motivated blocking, physicalizer, smooth line deliveries.”
Not so great: “vocal stumbles, ad lib last line, fair projection, incorrect last line.”
He liked how I laughed in multiple scenes (bold choice) and did it differently each time--”one time she almost snorted!”
This was followed up with a character analysis lecture and performance critique criteria.
Vocal delivery--how do you send your voice to the audience
Diction--understanding, producing language that is clear in meaning
Projection--how you send your voice to the audience, facing audience, elongate vowels
Vocal variety--projection, pitch, speed, pace, pause
Follow through--pursue your goal even at the end of your line.
Bold choices: touch, hurry, make eye contact, smile, laughing (like I do!)
energy used in pursuing your goal line.
Do something stupid/random--it clarifies your relationships, sets the mood (you only do that stupid joke with your kids).
* reach the audience
* physicalizer--people notice when you stop
* agility--strength, coordination, maximum control
** Olivier says train as if you wanna be a world class althlete.
* Dynamics (constant change) be on verge of doing something.
* cue pickups
* builds and cutbacks
* topping (louder than the other competition)
* cutback (getting quieter)
After that, we were supposed to rehearse our one page scenes. But my partner unexpectedly left halfway through class (still don’t know why), and since I couldn’t really rehearse alone, he told me I could leave early. This was slightly annoying considering that months ago I bought a ticket to a show this night, and ended up giving it away to a friend because “you can’t bail on your scene partner!” Hell, I could have left and gone to the show had I but known :P (Though the friend who went had a good time.) He did uh.... get on her for a bit about that during the next class.
Before I left, given the circumstances, I asked him for memorization tips. He said he was going to go over that later in the class (why so late?), but this is what he said:
* memorize in beats, thoughts, transitions, tactics, syntax
* cue cards
* another person
Oh yeah, and for the record, here’s the second half of the questions we were supposed to answer:
12a. What secrets do I know?
12b. How much of what I say is actually meant or truthful?
12c. What is left unsaid?
12d. How adept am I at expressing my thoughts?
13. What would I be doing or thinking now if I were alone and this particular scene were not taking place?
14. What past circumstances of my character’s life must I (as the actor) create and live through via fantasized “private improvisations,” in order to experience the present state and circumstances of my character?
15. What emotional reactions do I experience and what memories, fantasies, and plans of the character (“character stimuli”) can I draw upon to create these reactions?
16a. What does my character say that is particularly evocative for him or her?
16b. What descriptions, memories, and anticipations of the future are mentioned that must be made into concrete and specific images so that they can affect my speech (melody, pauses, emphases) to the maximum degree that is warranted and logical?
17. What can I draw upon from my own life (“personal stimuli”) to help me understand and create the character’s wants, actions, and emotional reactions?
18. What is special, different, or urgent about this event?
19a. How does my character use (and think of) his or her body? Is the body used consciously to affect others?
19b. Does the body provide any obstacles (pains, fatigue, infirmities, drunkenness, etc.)?
19c. Is a special physical style required, given the period and place of the play?
20a. How does my character use his or her voice or use words for effect (the voice thus becoming an instrument for action)?
20b. Is the voice used consciously in some special way to affect others?
20c. Is a special style, dialect, or accent required given the period and place of the play?
21a. How is my character distinctive?
21b. What are some behaviors, habits, postures, daily activities, etc. that are particular to or carried out in an idiosyncratic manner by my character?
21c. How do these change with different people and environments?
21d. Does my character carry personal objects (a comb, a mirror, a charm) or use objects in distinctive ways?
22a. Am I concerned about what I wear?
22b. Does my choice of clothing reveal anything about me?
22c. Is this intentional?
22d. Am I comfortable with what I wear?
23a. What aspects of people or the environment is my character particularly responsive to?
23b. Are there special hopes, dreams, desires, fears, irritations, etc?
23c. Are there special conditions that make my character feel angry, hurt, aroused, confident, shy, etc.?
24. How does upbringing, formal training, taste, position, occupation, etc., affect my character’s behavior and thinking?
25a. What people do I (the actor) know or have I observed that remind me of (aspects of) my character?
25b. Where can I go from whom I might gather specific habits and behavior patterns that would be useful in developing my character?
26. What choices can I make so that my character’s speech and physical behavior are as expressive, varied, and unpredictable as is warranted and logical?
We had to do a trust exercise in which we told our partners where to walk while blindfolded. I think we did pretty well, even though my partner apparently gets quite easily nauseated so that wasn’t so fun for her. (Apparently she gets seasick on a still boat.) He said it was about trust and discipline. This was followed up by making us sit around and imagine imagery about going underground, followed by floating into the sky, followed by going to your favorite place, and then we got quizzed about what we saw.
This was leading into a discussion of personal and character stimuli, which were something we were asked to discuss on the second round of question answering. I have been getting my friend Melinda to help me with homework and when it got to those questions she was all, “you basically didn’t answer it at all.” So...yeah, I think we needed help on this.
Personal stimuli-- basically using stuff from your own life as a substitute for feeling in the scene.
Character stimuli-- make up a history for the character.
Two ways you can come up with this information:
* memory-- know what it's like to be in a crawl space
* personal stimuli
* fantasy-imagining what you haven't done
* your character has memories as well
Hamlet has memories and fantasies
have to have personal stimuli for character. Remind yourself of incidents from your own life.
How can I see, feel more in this scene?
If you can do those things, everything comes out ok.
Character’s secrets--what’s left unsaid?
What would I be doing alone--this is supposed to be the fantasy of your character.
What past circumstances--he wants this answered brilliantly. You must live through the past via imagination.
What emotional reactions do I experience?
Memories of character--what were your plans?
What does my character say--descriptions, movies, anticipation affect memory.
Put in stuff that stimulates you.
“People do not come to the theater to see the ordinary.”
“You’re going to have to go to the next level of imagination in order to get to the next level of acting.”
After that, we had more rehearsal. My scene partner and I discussed how (a) the teacher loves it when you do stuff on stage like we did last time, and (b) we had nothing in our one page scene about anything people are doing. They are literally hanging out on a terrace in the afternoon. So we set up this whole thing where we were drinking, I’d get up and stare out at the railing... yeah, we seriously did not have activities to do that were very dramatic, so we drank.
We had a second quiz. I missed one question. Oh well.
This class’s lecture was on movement and staging. He was not kidding when he said he wanted us off book by this class. He made a big deal about how you have to be staring*/looking at something or you are not compelling. Focus is what makes people watch you.
* except apparently he hates the word staring for some reason? Hoo boy. Uh, looking at something for an extended period of time?
So he did this extended activity in which he made us walk across the room multiple times while reciting our lines, and doing different things while going across (wandering across stage, doing something with a desk, I forget whatall else). This actually kind of blew my tiny little mind because at one point--I believe it was the time when he wanted us to wander back and forth across the stage and I was thinking stuff like “huh, I’m going to go the opposite direction of everyone else just to liven it up,” and he stopped me and was all, “What were you looking at there?” “Uh....nothing, I guess.” So he made a big deal about the looking.
Is that the problem all along? Because I am usually trying to NOT look directly at anyone in the audience (hard to do with all the lights anyway, but also I think I’d be easily distracted if I noticed someone doing something). Is that why I’m not good? I wasn’t focusing?
Things to think about, there.
Then he gave a lecture on blocking:
4 considerations/relationships for blocking/staging
1. Your relationship to stage:
* center stage is place for solliiquies
* comedians at center down (comedy loves a down area)
* heroes come from stage right
* if you’re going towards Oz, go right to left (like how we read) with the psychological grain
"We come to have our minds played with." Play mind games with the audience.
* People shouldn’t see your footwork.
2. Audience--they need to be able to see you.
3. Other actors--ditto.
4. Properties (props) and stage business--people need to be able to see that stuff too.
We’re also supposed to work on picking our monologues--Melinda told me that the best monologues are when a character figures something out. An “aha,” or “oh shit,” or “I know what to do now” moment.
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