A couple days ago, the Florida Players (an independent U.F. performance group) put up the cast list and as it turns out, I did not get the lead part in “Seminar”. They awarded the part to a U.F. teacher of theatre history. A not unexpected choice (I had heard U.F. is a tight circle of insiders), but Florida Players, especially as they are technically independent of U.F., has every right to go with safe, tried-and-true choices and a seasoned U.F. instructor certainly would be a safe choice. I actually enjoyed the process of auditioning and frankly I had hoped to get the role, and hoped NOT to get the role. If I got it, I could chew some scenery and immerse myself in a play–be stoked about the fact I got a lead after only six days at U.F. On the other hand, if I didn’t get it, I would not have that extra baggage on my shoulders that potentially could distract me from giving my all to my course load. Maybe this just isn’t the right time, and so I’m very happy anyway. But I would have been great in that role. It was an asshole writer. Typecasting!
Meanwhile, in Script Analysis class, we are reading Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Our mission over the weekend is to do a Given Circumstances paper–a paper with a start-to-finish fact list. Facts are that which can be said to be true exclusively coming from the script. It must be specific, free of any fallacies, and is expected to run eight to ten pages. Our Professor (he wants me to call him Russ, which I’m reluctant to do since he’s spent a lot of time earning his degree), equates script analysis with being a sort of private detective (Sherlock Holmes?)–mining the facts of the case and the deeper meanings from the script. I quite like and am inspired by this analogy. This should be some challenging fun!
Here’s the journals for the week:
Today we presented our monologues. I read second (by choice…I was actually near last so I readjusted my place in line so I could go early and not have to sit there with the tension building as one monologue after the other all led up to me. I’ve cultivated this, “GO FOR IT” kind of attitude, especially for things in which I have a certain trepidation or fear. I just dive in and say, “This is learning!” And wouldn’t you know it, I think I knocked my monologue out of the ball park. Could it have been better? Always. I felt I had the emotion, the focus, I had the audience, and it was organic and really happening in the moment from my prospective. Everyone was quite good…with only one or two spacing out on lines or having issues. If I was the Professor, I would have been pleased overall. Professor Hamilton took diligent notes and my understanding is that we’ll hear the word on Monday. I am looking forward to hearing what she has to say. Also next week, we leave Chekhov behind and move along to Stanislavsky.
Acting for Directors:
The first two scenes were played for the class, and after, Dr. Young offered his critiques and suggestions for improvement. Both scenes were over three minutes with the latter scene being near 10 or 11. Everybody was entirely off book, and that was most impressive—also intimidating because on our little 2.5 minute ditty, I’m still working it up. Do I suck that bad, or am I simply not putting in the required effort? Here were the scenes and what I gleaned from Dr. Young’s comments:
1.) Money, the Game Show
Director: Use the ‘chase’ exercise and try role switching to provide actors variety and perspective. Make use of the entire space.
Actor: Use all of your voice. Get your voice out of your throat.
2.) Matanata – Opening Scene
Director for Actors: Don’t play at cooking, dialing a phone, operating a machine…be specific. If you are cooking eggs, see the eggs, cook the eggs, and don’t just push a prop spatula around aimlessly in a pan. BE SPECIFIC. If you are dialing a phone, dial a specific number, don’t just dial all threes or fake-dial.
Actor: Make your action CLEAR.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “No wonder we’ve never heard of that script. It’s fucking weird.” ~Dr. Young
Later that afternoon, we had another rehearsal for my scene. xxxxxxx, our Director, ran us through the exercises Dr. Young had recommended from the Directors Only class on Wednesday. After seeing the scenes the other actors did, scenes that seemed to have been selected with some care, I am under the impression our scene was not selected with the same care. It seems to me, being that it is so short and a sort of generic monologue script from the web, it feels like a quick easy choice done in a hurry. I am learning much about how to be in the service of my Director, because I disagree with most of the choices she’s making, but I have to meet her vision. That is the assignment. She wants to rush through an already super-short scene (2 minutes and 10 seconds) whereas I think my psycho character benefits from pacing, pauses of suspense, creepy tones. She wants me more up-tempo and hyperbolic, spitting my lines out like a manic fucking bunny. Then there’s my scene partner. She is so uncommunicative, unenthusiastic…when the director says, “That’s it for today…” my scene partner already has her backpack on and is out the door. There is no feeling from her of enthusiasm, collective inspiration…it all seems very ‘functional’ for her…a task for a grade. She seems as if she has her mind on other things and this is maybe the least important. Now I hate saying this but I feel obliged to be completely honest in this journal. I have my own challenges and I’m not perfect either, but it seems to me there should be a ‘company’ feeling / a team spirit, an investment in the material because we love it. And I feel that should be fostered/nurtured by the Director. Yet our Director seems also to have her mind on other things. If we are in a space in the middle of a scene, she has no problem interrupting to say hello and strike up a conversation with a passing acquaintance going down the hall. My sense of professionalism was instilled hardcore, as a child actor, a long time ago with Ruth Foreman. If you showed up late, you were not in the play. If you spoke when the director spoke, you were gone. If you did not maintain focus, you would be embarrassed to tears by the Director and reminded of who gets work in this business and who doesn’t. So maybe I’m a little too rigid? Or maybe my fellow collaborators are a little too loose? Learning is happening.
I do not usually sleep solidly through the nights. I tend to wake up three or four times in a given evening with back pain, bathroom stuff, munchies, etc. I have begun to apply 10 minutes of the Constructive Rest when this happens. I’ve been doing this for a few days now. I cannot yet tell if it is having a therapeutic effect upon the quality of my sleep, but I can say with certainty that when I finally get my day going, I am not in any pain and I have bundles of energy.
I used some Alexander relaxation and breathing techniques to deal with the stress from my vehicle dying in the O’Connell Center parking lot today. Now, I’m okay with it. Just another challenge to overcome. Or as the trailer park manager in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks – Fire Walk With Me says, “Just means more shit I gotta’ do now.”