Today was one page scene day! I thought we did pretty well jazzing it up as best we could, and I am certainly good at vocal variety. After we did our scenes, he did a critique again. He said we had fabulous attack and that our scene started even though we hadn’t said a word yet. We had physicalizers and commitment, but did not have follow through (see below). I have a variety of tactics :) “Their scene really was cooking!” He said my partner needed a reason to get up and sit down (true enough, she was basically doing that so she didn’t sit still throughout the whole thing and she had even less reason to move than I did), he suggested that I sit on the table after I get up the second time (ok) and I need to remember that there’s imaginary liquid in my glass (good point). I unfortunately can’t report back on more than that on my paperwork because he’s still got my paper because he wants to actually read it--”I’m really curious about what is going on in your mind.” I am so flattered.
* Scenes could be so much better with choices
* Have follow through at the end--he made a biiiiig deal of this. What he meant by that was basically freeze-frame at the end, don’t just end your scene and walk off. Like at the end of my scene we clinked glasses and apparently we should have freeze framed like we were in a cheesy commercial. The scene was happening before you came in and the scene will continue to go on.
* Put a little tragedy in your comedy and a little comedy in your tragedy.
* “Make us listen to you.” Know why you are saying your line.
* To the entire class: “You have a lot of things inside you. Use them all.” This wasn’t directed at me specifically, but seems like good advice.
* Downstage is not your friend-- better know how to use it! It’s hard to do!
* In general to everyone: “You have set up some really good scenes but you’re not taking advantage of it all the way.” He compared it to putting candy in the audience’s mouth and then taking it out.
* “Kick some butt while you’re here.”
* He talked about the scene cuts--ours were fabulous.
* “Match his energy, top him.”
After he did the overall critique, he had us redo the scenes again, but this time doing his critiques instead of going crazy-ass like last time.
And now it is time to do monologues! Select one, edit it down to being between 1-2 minutes (not over or under), and read the introduction to the monologue book for the next quiz. He wants us to do the usual blocking/cuts/tactics marking/beat marking/climax marking-type stuff on the script, one initial action cue. We’re also supposed to create what boils down to an imaginary floor plan since all we get for a set during an audition is one chair. Instead of doing the long sets of questions, we’re supposed to do a one page paper answering who we are, where we are, when it is, what do we want and why do we want it.
Anyway...I knew exactly what monologue I wanted to do. Frankly, it was the only fun and good one in the book (the only good one that wasn’t too fun I talked my previous scene partner into doing, hah!). It’s a monologue I read a long time ago called “Tassie Suffers.” Supposedly this monologue is adapted from the play “Claptrap” by Ken Friedman, but let me tell you that even though I can’t find anywhere to read this play for free, as far as I have been able to tell from the Internet (http://tech.mit.edu/V105/N15/art.15a.html), there is no character named Tassie (http://www.roverdramawerks.com/06_PastShows/gal_CLAP/Claptrap_Cast.htm) in that play! WTF? Where is this coming from, then?
Anyway, Tassie is freaking awesome and I wish she had a play of her own, because this is good stuff. Here’s the intro text from the monologue book for this one:
“(Tassie, an aspiring actress in her twenties, meetse a friend in a coffee shop and confesses that her recent audition has been a fiasco. This riotous look at a madcap actress features all the theatrical tricks and taboos familiar to aspiring actors everywhere. There is deliclious mischief in Tassie's eccentric behavior, and that gives a sense of reality to the incredible events that unfold.)”
Sounds fun, eh?
Okay, this is the whole monologue, which when I timed it, is three minutes long so I’m going to have to cut it down. Several people have their versions of this on YouTube.
I absolutely love this.
A few thoughts I had on this:
* I love the story of all of this, but there’s a bit of repetitiveness (especially the start of it), so if I have to cut it down to 2 minutes, I think I can just cut some lines here and there.
* I haven’t seen The Cherry Orchard, but I tried looking it up online. Upon looking at the Wikipedia entry and various cast photos, I’m starting to think that Tassie’s oufit of peasant apron, babushka and heavy boots is...not at all appropriate for that play. Those people look like they are dressed very upscale and fancy. Is that the gag? That Tassie seems to think she needs to be dressed for Fiddler on the Roof or something?
* I think it’s an interesting life choice on Tassie’s part that she thinks she’s right for playing a teenager, an older woman, and an oversexed librarian when she’s supposed to be in her twenties. Or possible delusion, who knows.
* I hear the voice of Megan Mullally in my head when I’m doing the voice of the person telling Tassie to improvise.
* I am pretty sure that the author based the entire plot of this monologue on the line, “The tomato-selling Cubaphile, the philosophic juvenile, or the oversexed pedophile?” Also, my teacher should use this as a tongue twister.
* I just love how she busts out the crazy in this one and then people are...whatever, about it. I’ve decided to play it like the guy is scared, which is a reaction we weirdos get.
In class today, we had to do improv in which we made up commercials on the spot based on random things he told us to advertise. (I was all, ads? Ugh!) So of course he made go first and plug bicycles (which I don’t ride), pianos (which I’ve barely played) and tombstones (uh....still alive). So I did the following:
Bicycles: I live in a bike capital! So therefore everyone has to ride a bike! (Except me, because I hate ‘em. But I didn’t mention that.)
Pianos: Hey, remember how your parents forced you to play piano growing up and you hated it? Why not do it as an adult voluntarily, it’s a lot more fun that way!
Tombstones: Hey, pick out your tombstone ahead of time, that way your tombstone says what you want it to say and it’s not like your relatives really know you anyway!
After that, he lectured on monologues:
* 1 speaker, convincing someone of something
* no soliloquies
* everything is into relationships
* energy comes out, but not if you’re on a phone
* other--the audience--who's present
* time limit
* you've got something you want to change in there (like convince people I'm great)
* Look at Staging Monologue by Robert Cohen-- 3 considerations:
1. Place your other strategically--sight lines.
Strategy--to reach your audience
Pick something and talk to it--somewhere where the audience can see you. Can use actual audience to look at, above is good (do not use auditioners as a focal point, they’re busy). Play your seat-watch the energy, work that chair. Use it in such a way you can live in it. Do blocking in a chair. Look at your ease of movement--move somewhere during the scene.
2. Play tactics on your “other” (imagine you have one)
3. React to tactics from your other (ditto).
He handed back our critiques from the last scene. Well, I still don’t have mine because he said he hadn’t had time to read the comments and still wants to read them--ok then. He didn’t write down details like he did last time, which kind of bugged me. He just had a few notes like: vocal quality good, change in vocal quality, need more bold choices and follow through, maybe attend to blocking.
Then he went into audition process and principles:
Auditions are usually one of the following:
* Cold readings--they give you script, you go read it and came back, audition by reading. To prepare, answer the given circumstances (who what when where why),
* Prepared speech (monologue)--they use these to categorize you for roles.
Be adaptable and flexible and have a repertoire of several monologues.
* Start out with two contemporaries, 1 serious and one funny.
* Later add on two more classical/Shakespearean, one comedy and one tragedy.
* Add even more later: 1 farce, 1 cultural piece (if you’re a PoC), comedy of manners, and songs.
* Read the entire play, not just the monologue in case they ask you questions about it. If they ask you about the play, know what you mean.
* The auditioners want to know who you are.
* Make others around you better.
Pay particular attention to monologues that have
* vocal variety
* ease of movement
* emotional honesty to given circumstances
* can’t make internal cuts--WE’LL GET BACK TO THIS ONE LATER.
* Come in with confidence, not cockiness.
* Wardrobe--try to suggest the character in your outfit but don’t feel obligated to show up in Shakespearean garb. Set up the mood, dress to impress but be comfortable. Don’t wear tight clothes/shoes you can’t move in. Don’t carry props unless they’re something on your person you pull off yourself.
* Seize the space--eye contact with audience, walk with confidence.
* Pause before and after the introduction.
* Hold your climactic moment/end for a bit. Say thank you, then you end.
* Don’t apologize.
* Headshots--these days, just doctor one up on your computer and don’t waste money. (If you have no resume, don’t bother with a headshot, and ARC will just take your picture anyway.)
* Don’t worry about finding an agent--if you’re that good, an agent will find you.
* Fill out the forms completely and legibly.
* Wear either the exact same (or at least similar) clothes and hairdo to an audition. Otherwise they won’t remember what they liked about you. If they want you to do something differently, they will ask.
* They want someone who can get out of problems.
* You don’t have to have an acting resume at community colleges or community theater, create a resume when you can. You can put down education, such as this class, or training. If you’re doing film, put down your hobbies as talents.
* At ARC they will ask you if you will take any role or if you only want to be up for specific ones so you don’t waste anyone’s time. Honesty on this topic is appreciated.
How do you memorize:
* in thoughts (not necessarily specific lines)
* in beats/objectives
* have to underestand the words/definitions-add on after that
* cue cards
* write it out
* set them to songs
* before he goes to bed-last thing you think about stays in your head
* hardest part is starting
* get on your feet, walk around
He finished off with a couple of inspirational/yet depressing stories about memorizing quickly.
* He told about the time when his lead actor backed out of a play with 10 days and his only option was to step into the role himself. He knew it was going to be very painful to get off book in 10 days, but he did it because he had to.
* Even worse, one time a lead actress died in a car accident four days before the play was going to go on--and it was a weird surrealist play. They were seriously going to cancel it because nobody had the heart to go on--except they went to the memorial service on Sunday and the dead girl’s grandma said, “I’m gonna come see that play.” A friend of the dead girl stepped in and learned the lines in 4 days.
Again, this is something to perhaps remember for later.
HOWEVER. At one point in class he had us work on our scripts, and he went around checking on them. When he saw that I was doing internal cuts (i.e. cutting lines here and there), boy, did he suddenly object to this. Oh no, that’s too hard to do, why don’t you just cut from the top or the bottom? Don’t tamper with the text, authors don’t like that! They don’t let you do that at competitions!*
* Note: I am about 99% sure at this point that I am highly unlikely to make it to a community college acting competition, so what does this matter? Also, it’s not like the author is going to know. It’s a freaking homework assignment. What’s the likelihood of him finding my blog and flipping out? He should understand under the circumstances.
I was all, hey wait a minute, you let us cut lines out of the last one, what the heck do you expect me to do here? I’m still not 100% sure, but it sounds like the answer is “just chop from the top or bottom.” Except I don’t want to do that because it cuts out fun plot details. If you cut the first minute of text you cut the entire explanation of the audition and how it changed (I’d have to start at when she goes in to do the audition), and I like that part. If you cut the last minute of the text you cut out the entire anticlimactic resolution and reaction of the audition people, and I think you need that part. So...wtf?
I proceeded to e-mail Melinda, and then wait around for several days for her to respond. She did not.
Continue to page 4....
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