I mentioned how horrible I thought my attempt at the Bogosian ‘Talk Radio’ monologue was in my Acting for Directors class. Well it turns out that a member of the Florida Players used it as the basis to ask if I would come to an audition for “Seminar”, a play by Theresa Rebeck. I had not attended any auditions (they were on Monday which is the day I host my long-running variety show called The Tabernacle of Hedonism. I didn’t want to engage with heavy projects anyway until I got accustomed to the pace and practices of UF. This was the call-back for several characters, including the Main one. That is the one she wanted me to read for, the character of, Leonard. He’s pretty much an asshole writer, and coincidentally, so am I. Alan Rickman did it on Broadway. Gigantic shoes to even admire, much less fill. So I auditioned and if all goes well, I might be the lead in a UF production after attending only six days of class. I doubt that’s ever happened. If I don’t get it, then I don’t have to stress myself. If I get it, I’m totally up for the challenge. It’s a juicy dark comedic role and lots of possibility for me to bring something personal and unique to the role. I’ll keep you posted. Script analysis has an exam this Friday, my first. Today, we reviewed for that exam. Mostly terms, the language of script analysis. I expect to slam it. Meanwhile, here are some journal entries for the week:
Acting for Directors:
Today we received “The Grid”. This is the organization of actors with directors. Thankfully, I was only assigned one scene, with another actor, to be directed by a girl whose nickname is “Butter” [Joanna or Jay]. I kind of had an eye on her as she seemed quite confident in the way she carries herself. She is definitely a standout individual and I am hopeful that will translate to her directing style and ability. Between myself and my co-actor, we agreed we were not going to tackle any of the classics. I’ll probably know soon what we will be expected to pull off. The rest of the class period was dedicated to reports from the ‘Director’ students. The reports are done in groups of two or three and they present information about a particular Director of choice. The Actors were instructed to take notes of meaningful points made, tips, etc.
• Davey Marlin-Jones:
o Demand Attention, Get Attention, Use Attention
o Question Everything / Plot, Purpose, the Play Itself, Character, Place, etc.
o Clocks Run Inside Characters (Needs)
o A Play is the Beginning, the Fulcrum, and The End
o Comedy: Do not seek out too much approval, find the challenging audiences, spaces.
• Jon Cranny
o For Actors: “What Does Each Character Want?”
o Play one beat of intention at a time. Don’t project the end.
o Shakespeare Tip: Put each sentence in your own words to connect to the meaning.
o Don’t be afraid to move in the space, make choices, don’t crowd up with other actors.
That’s as far as we got. We will pick it up on Friday.
We opened with some warm-ups and some Alexander-style walking exercises. We began exploring some of our monologue lines as we walked with different direction from Professor Hamilton—mostly from the Michael Chekhov school of thought. Lots of visualization, awareness of space, variations on delivery, interaction with fellow students as we spoke our lines. In an interesting twist, we were told to lie face down on the floor and look at the baseboard on the other side of the room. Professor Hamilton reoriented us such that instead of crawling across a floor, we imagined we were crawling up a mountain and the baseboard represented the top (old-school Batman style where they turn the camera such that Batman and Robin appear to be scaling a wall when in fact they are crawling on the floor, just like us.) My line was, “I didn’t come here to get sober.” Ironically, I struck that line out of my final version, as much as I like it, to get the monologue under two minutes. I pictured a bottle of Jack Daniels on the top of the mountain and after I crawled there, boy was I happy to get it. The day, for me, simply reinforced the infinite choices we as actors have when addressing material. I know a lot of actors who pigeon-hole themselves into one or two possibilities and they fix themselves there. I would advise myself to get weird, get spooky, do something spontaneous, explore possibilities, get loud, get soft, mix it up, organically develop delivery through eye contact and imagination, be in the moment, be deliberate…shake it up and make it up. I note that stylization and artifice can serve the actor well. A friend once asked me if a death scene might be the hardest thing to play. I told him that people are so used to stylized deaths in the movies, that to play it method or hyper-realized might actually read false against the way we have come to expect things on stage, film, and television. What matters is the delivery of emotional content. A realistic death where someone falls awkwardly with their head twisted on backwards and shits themselves might not evoke that sentimental sadness, to form a rather crude example. But even that is a choice that may work in a given circumstance. Maybe it needs to be gross, shocking, or comic? Try it all. You know that cliché “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” in action films when someone dies or something goes tragically wrong? Nobody has ever on planet Earth said that in a same circumstance. Nobody. Ever. But it always works. Even now that it’s a kind of hackneyed gag, it still works.
Today we began with one hell of a guided “structured relaxation”. I remember thinking, is this a class or a vacation. Not that the work isn’t and won’t be difficult, but my body was loving the fact that I gave it permission to participate in the process. Much of Alexander seems to come with very specific mind/body vernacular. We don’t hear ‘stop’, we hear, ‘pause’. We hear, ‘allow your body’, or ‘give your body permission to __________’. Soft music played in the background as we laid on our backs in a comfortable position and gently stretched, bounced, shifted from side to side slowly, always with the head and spine leading the body. We received two new handouts which are to inform and inspire questions. Then, at least three students, myself included, had hands-on one-on-one from our professor. In my case, I brought to awareness the sort of tenseness often held in my neck and shoulders. Our professor gently applied her hands to my neck, head, torso, and facilitated my allowing of ‘release’ of those tight spots. I also observed the interaction with the other students. What I observed was no less than students who began sort of slumped and compressed open up and their arms relaxed and hung lower and more freely…and it was a wonder to watch one student in particular—when facilitated to allow herself to free her head and spine ‘UP’, she grew about three inches right before our eyes. She became regal, equine, natural. You could see her body set itself right. What I have most profoundly noticed is that I am now checking in with my body and becoming much more self-aware of how I position myself, how I push my posture too much or not enough, I am ‘spine-conscious’ [my word]. We have a series of personal questions to answer for Thursday. I kind of floated out of the class today.
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