Another Week: Stanislovsky, Black Widow, Shakespeare Analysis…

Did about 20 hours of discovery of facts reading Shakespeare’s The Tempest. 20 out of 48 hours of weekend seems excessive, but this is the work, isn’t it. And honestly, it was quite rewarding. I probably used a dictionary more in those hours than I have all year. The power of Shakespeare! We discussed more about the analytical process, with Professor Russ being sure to repeatedly emphasize this is more about your process…it’s an art, not a science, and this should not be though of as an academic exercise. He further stated this is the work at the core of acting, the script. We need to love this process and develop our own way of doing it. I quite enjoyed it, but it is work, and hard work at that.

Here are the journal entries for other classes today:




We opened with a fun warm-up exercise; a game called Black Widow. Half of us form a wide circle. Our job is to gently nudge anyone wander outside the perimeter. The other half is in the circle with their eyes closed. The Professor taps one on the head and that is the Black Widow! The Black Widow’s job is to (simulated) finger-sting the others in the middle. Everyone has their eyes closed, so the exercise requires tactics, listening, special awareness, etc. Fun and illuminating.


Then, we began reading our new assigned monologues. We only got through about four before it was time for our Stanislavsky introduction. They were mostly cold readings. Our intro to Stan-the-man concerned the defining of a given section (paragraph, a few sentences, a block of dialogue) as a ‘beat’. (Or bit. We were told his thick accent, he was saying ‘bit’ all along.) A beat is a unit of action that begins with [I want, I need, or I must] and ending with an obstacle to that motivation. Between one and the other are one or more ‘tactics’ used to get there. Begging? Pleading? Pushing? Disclosing? Griping? Etc.etc.etc. That’s all for today. Our assignment is to ‘beat’ out our monologue and explore it.





We continued today with scenes, three to be exact. Not much more to it at this point, just the scenes. We were reminded that when our turn comes, actors need to make sure we have their GOTE (Goal, Obstacle, Tactics, and Expectation). I have this already prepared (I was smart enough to do that).


Tom Miller – 9/6/2013

Character: Trevor


My Own Words / Subtext for Trevor’s Dialogue:

Hi, I’m Trevor. (Introduce myself.)

I’m not lost. I’m your new roommate. (Defines MY space.)

Exactly! And I’m part of the deal. (I let her know we’re ‘roommates’ by contract!)

No mistake. They foreclosed on me so I’m not leaving—as revenge. (Let’s her know she’s wrong, I’m right. Let’s her know how I feel about management here. Let’s her know that if I’m crossed, I will have my revenge. Let’s her know she’s stuck with me.

See how they are? They cheat you! It’s unfair, but now, we’re together and we can win this together. (Further defines my feelings about the management. Shows my empathy; she’s like me so she should understand. We’re together in this.)

Why would you hurt me like that? I was honest. I told them I was never going to leave. They should have informed you. Didn’t they inform you? (I’m the good guy, they’re the bad guys. Don’t worry. I know what I’m doing.)

They lie! They knew about me and kept it from you. They could have endangered your life if I was a serial killer. They’re totally wrong for doing that. (Shows it’s them, not me, who’s to blame. Informs the possibility of danger. Attempts to let her know I’m on her side.)

What? (Her question goes over my head. I’m preoccupied.)

No way. I could never be a serial killer, unless you piss me off. Then, maybe. (Enacting my control of her and the situation. Threatening danger if she keeps on this tract of distrusting me.)

I made goulash just for you so we can celebrate being together. Excuse me… (Informs her I knew in advance she was coming. An attempt to bond and bring normalcy to our new relationship for the future.)

You are going to love this goulash. Do you drink? What wine should we drink with goulash? (Interrogative, trying to strike a casual tone and get past all the uncomfortable nonsense, informs of a touch of sophistication in me which I’d like to share.)

Where are you going? Dinner’s ready. (Trying to get her to stay.)

Hurry back. We’re going to sleep at 10 on the dot. I have a schedule to keep or otherwise, I freak out. (Informs of compulsiveness, additional threats of a lack of self-control when pushed or taken off point.)

Who am I?

               I am Trevor. I’ve been living in this condo for quite some time but my peculiarities and lack of financial responsibility have caused management to foreclose on me in order to get me to leave. I’m sure I’ve caused some problems for others, but I can keep that under control, or so I think. My revenge for this attack on me is that I know a little about the law, and they can’t just throw me to the streets. I am going to stay as long as the law allows me to, because I have established residence. I can stay here legally for months and that’ll show them they can’t tell me what to do! I’m out of work, I get a check for being a little wacky but more and more, I’ve been spending it on eccentricities that have nothing to do with rent—food, wine, a bit of snuff…I was diagnosed with some compulsion, bi-polar, and depression. If people would fall in line and either leave me alone or get on my team, everything would be fine. I am comfortable in my routine. I would be delighted with company so long as they follow my rules and do as I say. I watch food channel a lot and know how to cook well. Food is my friend and it can solve problems if you make it with love and properly pair it with a nice wine that brings out all the flavors.

What do I want?

I want to stay in my routine. I want things to be the same. I want to not be bothered by evil corporate overlords that are watching me, waiting for me to make a mistake. I want to show ‘them’ that I’m right and they’re wrong.

Who gets in my way?

The corporate management of this condo is in my way. They want me to abide by their rules instead of mine. Potentially, this newcomer to my condo may get in my way if she doesn’t believe me and sides with ‘them’.

How do I get around them?

If I can get this invader on my side and turn her into my ally, we can defeat the corporate overlords together. All she has to do is obey my rules, eat when it’s dinner time, and not try to undermine me in my own home.


Five major events in your character’s life, up to now:

  1. I find a stable place to live.
  2. I pay my own bills with checks I receive from the government.
  3. I learn how to cook by watching food channel for hours and hours.
  4. I get my life under control by reducing my drinking to only wine with dinner and keeping a calendar for chores, exercise, and daily activities. I keep it all in order.
    1. I get a letter telling me to leave the premises because of my occasional screaming. This is when I realize ‘they’ are out to destroy me.


What color is the emotional part of your character? Gray or blue, never both.

What animal is the physical part of your character? My character is a feral cat.

Where is the center of the character located and how does it affect your character’s walk?

     The center is in the pit of the stomach and is pulled back in retreat away from the rest of the body. Trevor walks like a fearful arch standing on end, leads with the face and feet, but keeps his center in reserve or perhaps in hiding.



Here are the three scenes and the little tips I gleaned from watching Professor Young critique them:

1.)   Scene from the Odd Couple:

1. Think about details. This is an old play so if you’re doing it in a contemporary setting, the script may call for someone to say, “We’ll go out to dinner for 40 bucks,” but the reality of the day, a meal for two in a nice place might be more like 90 bucks. So think about that.

2.)   Everything Will Be Different: A Brief History of Helen of Troy

  1. 1.  Use these rehearsal techniques to discover choices: What color am I? What animal am I?
  2. 2.  Enunciate, don’t drop the ends of sentences. Rehearse by over-enunciating to reinforce the point.

3.)   Scene from David Auburn’s ‘Proof’:

  1. 1.  Utilize props to help establish time of day, ie. Coffee mugs for morning.
  2. 2.  Reverse roles in rehearsal to provide perspective of the opposite character.
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