UF Day Three – End of Week One – Blogs

In my courses, we are required to keep blogs with frequent entries. For this post, I will simply present blogs from my courses as they are written–informal, revealing, honest. I am rather blown away, as far as UF goes, how rapidly their financial aid program distributes money. It has only been three days of class and there is already a substantial portion of the money in my bank. Why they couldn’t make that happen in any reasonable amount of time at Santa Fe College is a mystery to me.

Acting for Directors
by Tom Miller – JOURNAL


The first day of class. Naturally, feeling excited, nervous—a bit overwhelmed with the requirements, but that is the business. Nervous about memorization, preparation, responsibility to my fellow actors and director(s). Nervous = ALIVE!

Very happy to be a part of this opportunity because I know that the direct experience of acting and the pressures of responsibility will be the most profound learning that can be done in the theatre. If I want to learn the craft of acting, ACTING is a great place to begin.

Happy to see new faces and some familiar faces from Santa Fe College's acting program. I am looking forward to the experience of my Professor, and all the various perspectives I am sure to encounter in criticism/encouragement of my peers.


Today, we read one-minute monologues to provide an opportunity for our 'directors' to get a look at our 'actors' and what they have to offer. There are quite a number of extremely talented students in the class. In my own experience, I have not often seen quality monologues, save for the classics. But these students managed to pick out quite good monologues with great range. I myself chose Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio and a monologue by the character of Barry Champlain who has an on-air melt-down. I've done this monologue before, and spent a couple days putting it back into my head. When it came my turn to perform, I said the first line and then blanked. Just totally blanked. I was the only one in the class to do that. I asked to start over, and managed to get through it respectably, though I dropped a number of lines. Where did it go, I wondered? I've been an actor all my life. I was having some kind of self-doubt, I suppose. That must never happen again, especially in this class. So I am committing to over-rehearsing and memorizing to such an extent that reality is the thing I perform and the scene is the thing I am. There is no way around it.

Acting II – Journal
by Tom Miller


	I am excited to begin my experience at UF's Theatre Program with Acting II. The primary concern racing through my brain is this: How can I immediately improve my rather weak memorization skills? It's paramount to have a sharp memory for scripts. So right off the bat, a candid and frank examination of my all my weaknesses as an actor need to be assessed and radical immediate action taken to improve those weaknesses. I must overcome my memory challenges first and foremost (I suggest an absurd number of repetitive readings, script breakdowns with the 'why' answered in as many places as possible, visual breakdowns, underlining, the use of recording devices and interactive video)...I am going to have to use every tool in the arsenal until I hone down what works best. Meantime, do them all and go with that term I read in some acting book somewhere: “over-learn, over-prepare”. In both this class and the Acting for Directors class, first-day scenes must be spot-on and 'in-the-can'. If Klaus Kinski can memorize the entire Bible, I am sure I can bring myself to command simple scenes and monologues. This work starts now. I feel the journal component will be a welcome addition. Committing ideas from the brain to the page is a great way to reinforce and remember experiences. I feel that because I know Professor Hamilton outside of the University (she performs occasionally at my local performance art show), she will likely be tougher on me. I welcome that too. I did not come to U.F. for a cakewalk. I came to bake cakes.

Weaknesses: Memorization, Procrastination, Drink too much, Discipline, Unfamiliarity with Classics, Do Not Enjoy Collaboration.


	Today's class was a series of exercises designed to loosen us up, and get more familiar and comfortable with each other as peers and working partners. We played a few games, including one designed to get everyone familiar with each others' names. That's a great one for me, because I am notoriously bad with people's names. I even remember a few...Kalem, Sam, Sammy...okay, well three is not bad. We also did an exercise called, “I know” in which we have five minutes to write the words “I know...” followed by something we know. For example, “I know I will die.” “I know I don't know much.” “I know lobsters are delicious”, etc. We walked around the room speaking out our “I Know”s. Then we were directed to pick the top five “I know”s. These, we said to each other as we passed. Then we picked the top three. These we said to each other with eye contact. Then we selected the singular one that stood out. Mine was, “I know I am happy.” It was suggested that this be the basis for our self-monologue we'll be writing over the next week. At the end of the class, I did feel as though I got to know my fellow creators, and I felt much more comfortable. At the end, we all sat in a circle and talked out what we got out of the exercises and made observations. I told the class that when I started, it was like me in a lump of humanity. After the exercises, I could see aspects of each person that made them unique and stand out. I had achieved, empathy.

Day one. I was not officially in the class because it had filled up before I had even heard Alexander Technique was an option for me. Originally, I had been put into a beginning lights & sound course. But it did not feel right to me. I wanted to begin at UF by immersing myself in acting-specific courses. Our professor allowed me to sit in on the class and I asked if there might be any exception or perhaps someone would drop allowing me a spot. 

In the first class, we were introduced to some of the Alexander Technique through a series of walking and awareness exercises. We walked with various postures, feelings, speeds, we walked backwards, sideways, all the while paying close attention to our surroundings. We were keenly aware of our fellow players moving at all times around us. We were reminded of how little our awareness is meaningful to us unless we directly make that awareness a part of our consciousness. For example, we smell things as we walk down the street, but we do not focus on smell. For if we did, the world of smells would expand. We would become aware of car exhaust, food, perfume, fresh cut grass, etc. We focused on what we see all around us, not just what is required to get from here to there. Do we look at ceilings? Do we look behind objects? Do we see what is outside through the windows? Or do we look just toward where we are going? 

We were told where the top of our spine sits in the head (much higher than one would imagine, right between the ears, as it turns out.) We were told where the bottom of our torso is; not at the hip, but literally at the bottom, between the legs. Just the realization of this gave me a different sense of my body and how I move. Many assume the top of the spine is at the big bone at the bottom of the neck and the torso ends at the waist (we were told the 'waist' is a couture term and not a truly anatomical one), and we move accordingly. It is a very compressed restrictive sense of self.

I noticed when I first got to UF that students walk with little awareness of their surroundings. They will not accommodate oncoming traffic or make the little courtesy adjustments that allow for free travel. To me it appeared a glob of humanity that you have to fight your way against to get where you're going. After the class, and the walking and body-awareness exercises of Alexander, I found myself much more at ease in student traffic. Instead of looking for the next collision to avoid, I found myself seeing the space between people and moving naturally in those directions. It was like a magical ability to walk through walls. It reminded me of music and acting: the important parts are the space between notes, between words. That is where there is magic.


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