8/31/09

The Greeks Casting

For The Greeks, we will be performing excerpts from three of the plays: Electra, Andromache, and Helen. We got our casting yesterday, so I thought I'd share it.


ELECTRA

Electra - Two-Shots-Up
Orestes - D-Train
Old Man - Killer
Clytemnestra - Wifey
Aegisthus - Big Show
Chorus of Argive Men & Women - Me, All-the-Way, Iceman, Newbie, O.D., Thrill
Stage Manager - All-the-Way


ANDROMACHE

Andromache - Me
Chrysothemis - Wifey
Hermione - All-the-Way
Menelaus - Thrill
Peleus - O.D.
Pylades - Killer
Orestes - D-Train
Soldiers - Big Show, Iceman
Chorus of Trojan Slaves - Newbie, Two-Shots-Up
Molossus - ?
Stage Manager - Iceman


HELEN

Helen - Newbie
Menelaus - Iceman
Kratos (Eucleia) - Big Show
Disillusioned Soldier - Killer
Chorus/Soldiers - Me, All-the-Way, D-Train, Two-Shots-Up, Wifey, O.D., Thrill
Stage Manager - Wifey

8/30/09

Acting II Summer Homework

I just realized that I never put this letter on here, so I figured it was better late than never. :) We received it from Acting Professoressa on April 21, 2009.

Dear First-Year Students,

Congratulations on completing your first year of training. I know it hasn't always been easy. You have a lot to be proud of.

As you know, the second year focuses on the classics. Here's what you will need to have when you come back to [town].

1.
Actions, The Actors' Thesaurus, but Marina Calderone & Maggie Lloyd-Williams, Nick Hern Books, London (http://www.nickhernbooks.co.uk)

2. A copy of the complete works of Shakespeare, Riverside Edition. These regularly turn up second-hand, in used book stores or online, for far less the rather steep price of a new copy.

3. A Shakespeare glossary. The one-volume version by C.T. Onions is fine. For more depth, you may wish to invest in the two-volume edition by Alexander Schmidt.

4.
Playing Shakespeare by John Barton.

5.
The Greeks, translated by Kenneth Cavender. This script is out of print. You will need to get a photo-copy made from my master. I will ask that one of your reps see me and take on the responsibility of organizing this effort. Please come to first class next fall having read this text.

6.
Mythology by Edith Hamilton. Used paperback editions of this text are widely available. Please comt to first class next fall having read...

- Chapter 13: The Trojan War (Part Four: The Heroes of the Trojan War)
- Chapter 14: The Fall of Troy (Part Four: The Heroes of the Trojan War)
- Chapter 17: The House of Atreus (Part Five: The Great Families of Mythology)
- Chapter 18: Agamemnon and His Children (Part Five: The Great Families of Mythology)


I'm very much looking forward to our work together next year. You have my best wishes for a happy summer. With affection,

[Acting Professoressa]

8/29/09

Quotations: Volume 29

Here are some of the educational, inspirational, and humorous quotations from my classes this week:

{NOTE: From henceforth, the artist formerly known as "Analysis Professor" will mostly be referred to as "Head of Program", as he wears both hats and the latter now figures more prominently into my personal education than the former.}


Head of Program: Faculty, is there anything you'd like to say?
Acting Professor: (with his Russian accent) Welcome back!
Head of Program: What? What does that mean? How do you spell "beck"?

"Suddenly this building is alive, because you are all here."
- Artistic Director

"You tend to grow exponentially in your second year."
- Artistic Director

Artistic Director: You don't have to love everyone. You just have to love me and [Head of Program].
Head of Program: And you can give on him.

Head of Program: (interrupts Artistic Director) [Artistic Director], I have to point out that she's writing. (points at Angela) This is going on the blog. It's all going on the blog.
Artistic Director: I haven't said any swear words.

(after Artistic Director spoke for a long period of time)
Head of Program: The important thing to get out of what [Artistic Director] is saying...
Artistic Director: As opposed to...?
Head of Program: Amongst the multitudes of statements coming out of his mouth...

"I've been here since the sixties, which you could probably guess. Over the years I've sort of morphed into Santa Claus."
- Senior Property Master (who has long white hippie-esque hair and a beard to match)

(while posing for a group photo)
Photographer: I need you to put your hand on your hip.
Acting Professoressa: Why do you need me to put my hand on my hip?
Head of Program: What's the problem, [Acting Professoressa]? Do you need motivation?

"The people who know how this building is run... are me."
- Head of Program

"I don't want anyone coming to class if you have a communicable disease... I mean in terms of a flu or something."
- Head of Program

"You can't leave. You are here. From now... forever."
- Head of Program

3rd-Year AG: Can we meet with David Brunetti outside of his workshop?
Head of Program: I don't see why not.
Me: Can he come to karaoke with us?
Head of Program: No.

"What would happen if we were actually at the Mothership, which is what I call [main campus]..."
- 3rd-Year KS

Wifey: I have been informed that my information may be out of date, and my contact might not work at that branch any longer.
3rd-Year HG: Chip was fired???
Iceman: Whatchu talkin' 'bout? Chip was promoted.
D-Train: Chip is the MAN!

"They're biting at the stick for this one."
- Head of Program (most likely intending to say "chomping at the bit")

"It's really nice to see [Analysis Professor/Head of Program] outside of Analysis class when he's not using his 'I Love You Voice'."
- Me

Head of Program: [Group Therapy Counselor] has retired.
O.D.: We did it, guys!
(O.D. was stating, I believe, that the drama from our class convinced her to retire. He was not implying that it was a goal of ours that we succeeded in attaining... It's difficult for me to figure out a way to make that clear using punctuation and capitalization, so I figured I'd explain.)

"Let's see... (digs through her bag) I have the good tissues. I have... (pulls out pair of pink gloves that she wore last year and holds them out in D-Train's direction) [D-Train], just in case."
- Voice Professor

"I haven't done the bowl, so cut me some slack. I'm hopin' it goes well."
- Voice Professor, referring to the "singing bowl" she hadn't used in a while

"Now cross your left knee over your right knee, just like a nineteen-fifties secretary."
- Movement Professor

"If you want to be actors, I mean real actors, you have to know how to do the classics."
- Acting Professoressa

"The language is there to help you get what you want."
- Acting Professoressa, on the classics

'If you want to be a real actor, a complete actor, you have to find a way to live in that period where the character lives so that you're living as a native and not a tourist."
- Acting Professoressa, on the classics

"You have to believe that the gods are there just as you believe that (she drops her pen) gravity exists. It's a given."
- Acting Professoressa

"You have to know the culture and also the character as it's separate from the culture. There are some things that are accepted by cultures that are like, as I said before, gravity exists. Or that it's wrong to set little kids on fire."
- Acting Professoressa

"Is he a true believer, or does he like to burn a little kid every now and again? I don't know where this analogy came from."
- Acting Professoressa, on character vs. culture

"People in medical school save lives. We in the Arts help give meaning to those lives."
- Acting Professoressa, on how MFA students are training to be valid contributors to society

"Once you do the Greeks, you won't be afraid of anything."
- Acting Professoressa

"The people who make it in this business are not always the most talented, but are often the most driven."
- Acting Professoressa

"If you look around, you'll see acting lessons everywhere."
- Acting Professoressa

"What is written about you after you're dead is more important than what happens while you're alive, to the Greeks."
- Acting Professoressa

"Language came after need. I mean, the caveman was going, 'Grunt, grunt, give me that club so I can hit you with it.'"
- Acting Professoressa

"I do things that I'm not supposed to. I mean, I don't rape and pillage, but..."
- O.D.

"Your first professional gig might be playing a guest at Fred's party in A Christmas Carol."
- Acting Professoressa, on why it's good to have the experience of being in a Greek chorus

"You have to learn how to stay alive if you don't have lines."
- Acting Professoressa, on being a member of the Greek chorus

(After Acting Professoressa thought that Iceman was raising his hand when he was really just playing with his brand new wedding ring)
Acting Professoressa: He's just showing his finger as all bridegrooms do.
Iceman: (shows off ring) Hey, look at this!

"You're in a boat, and that's your text. I don't know. It's been driving me crazy."
- Voice Professor, after seeing a picture that Acting Professoressa had drawn on the board representing a modern play (a tiny ship of text on a giant sea of subtext).

"You think you're Tremor Masters now -- and you are -- but your tremors will continue to change."
- Voice Professor

"Now just rest. You can sit and rest, you can go into Child's Pose and rest... The world is your oyster, rest."
- Voice Professor

Acting Professoressa: Did I ever tell you that I was older when I went to graduate school? Older than the professors. Well, some of them.
All-the-Way: How old were you?
Acting Professoressa: Let's not get into specifics, [All-the-Way]. Suffice it to say, I was elderly.

"The La Brea Tar Pit of playing a tragic character is to play the character tragically."
- Acting Professoressa

"I'm not always the most tactful person. I do try, though."
- Acting Professoressa

"Learn to be hungry for notes."
- Acting Professoressa

"Not everyone at a wedding is necessarily happy, and not everyone at a funeral is necessarily sad. If you don't remember that, then you're playing generalities."
- Acting Professoressa

"We don't want to pretend to pretend, do we?"
- Acting Professoressa, on how we should use a real door to make an entrance into a scene whenever possible (as opposed to entering from "the wings" of the classroom)

(after a conversation about who Big Show was in a scene with O.D.)
Me: And [O.D.] was Kulygin.
Acting Professoressa: Who?
O.D.: My Chekov character from last year.
Acting Professoressa: Oh. I thought he was a homicidal maniac.

"[D-Train] has the potential of being a face-crasher."
- Voice Professor, referring to D-Train's violent tremor in The Bow

(O.D. left the classroom after an intense tremor about 30 seconds before class was over, not realizing it was that close to the end. He then re-entered the room.)
O.D.: Is class over?
Voice Professor: And what an entrance. [O.D.], I don't even mind. It was worth it. Whatever you were experiencing is worth it.

"[Killer], you need to get in touch with your inner homo. So we should talk."
- Head of Program, referring to Killer's upcoming role as a gay man in the play Eight

"I don't know who this madcap heiress was..."
- Acting Professoressa, after one of my status experiments

"Here's my note: don't play a prick."
- Acting Professoressa, to D-Train after he did a scene with me where he wasn't very friendly

"Oh my God, you found your humanity! Right here in the studio!"
- Acting Professoressa, to Big Show, after his character stopped being a jerk and started being human

"People respond when they feel you're trying to acheive something positive."
- Acting Professoressa

"Your job is to show the audience what it means to be human. That's a huge responsibility."
- Acting Professoressa

"I have to ask you again, why are you playing a homicidal maniac?"
- Acting Professoressa, to O.D.

"You don't want to be the character that says 'no'."
- Acting Professoressa

"Maybe I go out and a tree falls in front of me and I go, 'Bah! There's a tree!'"
- Acting Professoressa

Thrill (in character): Are you f***ing with me?
D-Train (in character): I would never f*** with you.
(Thrill pulls out a cell phone. D-Train starts to leave)
Thrill (in character): No, no, no. You stay here.

"You want your work to be pure. You don't have to tell me how you're feeling."
- Acting Professoressa

"I hate to say it twice in one class, but I have to give you the 'don't be a prick' note."
- Acting Professoressa, to Killer after a scene where Wifey said she was in love with him and he laughed cruelly

"Sounds like... something more than a woman... might be in there."
- O.D. (in character), in a scene where he opened the door to the "women's bathroom", and we all heard male voices

(after a status game where O.D. said he had to fix the chair that Newbie was sitting in)
Acting Professoressa: How did you know it was that chair that you were supposed to fix?
O.D.: They told me it was.
Acting Professoressa: They told you it was the chair with the broad in it?

"I know my chairs. I'm a chair-fixer."
- O.D.

Acting Professoressa: I'm just saying, don't be a prick. It's the message of the day.
All-the-Way: We need t-shirts.

"Teasing is great. Put it in your little books. It is a much undervalued tactic."
- Acting Professoressa

"You will always be playing characters who are faulty. If you don't, you're playing cardboard cut-outs, because everybody has faults."
- Acting Professoressa

Acting Professoressa: You don't have to be too inventive with the writing. You don't have to be playwrights. Only be as creative in the writing as pleases you.
Killer: Angela...
Me: Shut up.
Acting Professoressa: What?
Killer: Angela is very inventive in her writing.
Acting Professoressa: I know. I've read the blog, man.

"[O.D.]'s gonna take his clothes off. Because that's what [O.D.] does."
- Anonymous

O.D.: (begins to leave classroom just as he's supposed to begin an exercise at the end of class) I'll be just a minute.
Acting Professoressa: [O.D.], we have fifteen minutes. Hurry up.
(O.D. leaves)
Thrill: He's just gotta go talk with God. He'll be right back.
Acting Professoressa: Is this a usual thing?
Thrill: Yeah. Don't worry. He's comin' back.
Acting Professoressa: Oh, I won't worry.

Voice Professor: Is it me, or is it darker in here? I think it's darker in here. Or is it a good dark?
(Big Show, who sits under the one light in the classroom that can't be turned off, laughs)
Me: It's eternal summer for [Big Show].
Voice Professor: Hmm... [Killer], let's get that light gelled.
Big Show: (in a scheming tone) Oh, I'll fix it.
Voice Professor: No, I've tried to take out the bulbs and things before. The building people always repair it. But if we gel it, they'll be like, "Oh, arty stuff. They're acting."

(while discussing well-enunciated consonants)
"I got in trouble the other day in my singing lesson with [Music Director]. He said, 'Could you lighten up on those just a touch?'"
- Voice Professor

Big Show: Do you sing, [Voice Professor]?
(Voice Professor doesn't answer)
Big Show: You do! I bet you have a beautiful voice. Now that's all I can think about, is trying to imagine it.
Voice Professor: You can't.

(while watching "Little Bears" Shelter/Sheltie partner movement improvisation)
"It's like watching a Windows screen saver."
- Me

"I am going to eat to my heart's content, even if it makes my bowels discontent."
- Iceman (example of antithesis)

"I must have an open heart to handle close-minded people."
- Thrill (example of antithesis)

"She looked like a prostitute, but she acted like a saint to me."
- D-Train (example of antithesis)

"The biggest problem with you is that you have no small problems."
- Big Show (example of antithesis)

Newbie: (jokingly pronouncing Andromache the way it's spelled, instead of "and-RAH-muh-key") AND-row-muh-SHAY.
All-the-Way: And meet my sister, Paper Maché.

8/28/09

Friday, August 28

VOICE
Voice Professor came around the classroom and had us all send-and-land, so that she could see where we all were after the long break. She said that I seemed to be in a state of rib compression at one point, which may have had to do with my sports bra. I learned in my Chekov work last year that if I'm wearing something that is in any way restrictive, I forget to take full rib swings, even if I can. I have to be mindful of that in the future, especially if I end up in a corset or something.

MOVEMENT
I've been getting a little discouraged in movement class lately. Before our "Little Bears" work, we start with stretches that are pretty intense. I'm not particularly good at them. Movement Professor says that the problem is actually that some parts of my body are TOO stretched out, which means that other parts of my body can't match them. As a result, I can grab my toes when I'm sitting in straddle, but I can't keep my sitz bones on the floor. I asked Movement Professor if I can set up a tutorial with her about it, but she doesn't think I need one. She seems to think we can work out my issues in class. I hope she's right.

We took the next step in our "Little Bears" (partner movement improvisation work) training. We're still working with the Shelter/Sheltie guidelines, but now we're allowed to give weight to our partners. We're not into lifts yet; we're just finding fulcrum points where one body can accept weight of the other body. It looks really sweet when it comes together correctly, but it's tricky to get the hang of it.


ACTING
We started class by talking about antithesis and sharing our examples from The Greeks, as well as the ones that we had made up. I turned in my paper, but the examples I made up that I remember were:

- The rose was valued, but the thorns were resented.
- The cake was beautiful, but watching him eat the entire thing in one sitting wasn't pretty.
- You have lots of money, so give me a little.
- You are younger and more carefree, but I am older and have more insurance.

Some of my classmates' examples included:
- I am going to eat to my heart's content, even if it makes my bowels discontent. (Iceman)
- I must have an open heart to handle close-minded people. (Thrill)
- She looked like a prostitute, but she acted like a saint to me. (D-Train)
- The biggest problem with you is that you have no small problems. (Big Show)

In the second half of class, we did cold-readings of The Greeks so that Acting Professoressa had a better idea of how to cast us. Here's what we read.

From Hecuba...
Hecuba - Wifey
Polyxena - All-the-Way
Odysseus - Iceman

From Helen...
Helen - Me
Menelaus - Big Show
Soldier - O.D.

From Helen...
Helen - Newbie
Menelaus - D-Train
Soldier - O.D.

From Helen...
Helen - Me
Menelaus - Killer
Soldier - Thrill

From Electra...
Electra - Two-Shots-Up
Chrysothemis - All-the-Way

From Andromache...
Peleus - Killer
Andromache - Newbie
Menelaus - D-Train

From Andromache...
Peleus - O.D.
Andromache - Wifey
Menelaus - Big Show

From Orestes...
Helen - Newbie
Electra - Two-Shots-Up

From Achilles...
Agamemnon - O.D.
Achilles - Killer
Odysseus - Thrill

From Iphigenia at Aulis...
Clytemnestra - Me
Agamemnon - Iceman
Iphigenia - All-the-Way

From Iphigenia at Tauris...
Iphigenia - Two-Shots-Up
Orestes - D-Train
Soldier - O.D.

From Andromache...
Andromache - Newbie
Hermione - Wifey

From Achilles...
Achilles - Thrill
Thetis - Wifey



It sounds like we'll be performing cuttings from three of the ten plays. We should be getting our casting Tuesday.

8/27/09

Thursday, August 27

My self-imposed bedtime of midnight seems to be not working out as well as I'd planned. It's the third day of school, and I'm totally going to miss it. Oh well.

MOVEMENT

We started by doing the first stage of "Little Bears" again, where you sink into breath with a partner and try to share physical impulses on your hands and knees.

I was paired with Killer first. We got into a shared breath pretty quickly and stayed with it through most of our time. We were pretty in sync, including with a negative thing: tension in our thumbs (how random, right?).

Next, I was put with D-Train. We thought we were in sync with breaths right away, but then we were wrong, so we shook the etch-a-sketch and started over again. After that, our impulses seemed huge. We sort of collapsed together, and then rose again. Movement Professor said that she wondered if we inhaled together after the collapse (which would've been the preferred way of doing things).

After that, we moved into the next stage of the game. I would call it "Shelterer and Sheltered". Movement Professor calls it "Shelter/Sheltie" (because she says that "Sheltie" makes her laugh. Big Show pointed out that it was like the breed of dog). Basically, the partners are still following each others physical impulses, but in a way where they search for negative space. Without touching one another, they switch off so that one person's body is "sheltering" the other person's. The journey between the shelter poses is just as cool as the poses themselves.

If I remember correctly, I was partnered with Iceman first, and then with Thrill. They not only have different body types and different heights, but also different movement vocabularies. After watching all sorts of pairings of my classmates, it really seemed like the possibilities were infinite.


VOICE
Today, we reviewed all the tremor positions that we didn't get to yesterday: Cobra, Camel/Arch, Bow, Pelvic, and Standing.

Voice Professor says that we have to be aware of the effects that the different positions have on our bodies. Some people don't get a tremor in the Camel/Arch, but it might really open up their breathing. Some people might be able to stay in the Bow for large chunks of time (i.e. me), but it might make their backs hurt the next day. It's important to recognize how each tremor works for your body so that you can make better choice about how to use them.


ACTING
Acting Professoressa says that one of the most important things that she hopes to instill us with is a good understanding of how to consistently "land" our lines (have energy all the way through the line, and make sure it's in an arc that will really reach the partner).

We started with a new version of a status game. One person was High Status, and was sitting in a chair (and had some activity or reason to be sitting in the chair). The other person, Low Status, had to enter the room and attempt to get the High Status person to get up from the chair.

D-Train and I went first. I decided to be his servant, and I said there was a grease fire in the kitchen, and we needed his help. I did eventually get him out of the chair (albeit after he put up quite a battle and asked "how much do I pay you?"). Acting Professoressa told him "Here's my note: don't play a prick." She said that her big note for me was that I lost some of the urgency of the fire as I was trying to talk him into coming with me.

We tried the exercise again. The second time, I walked out and said, "Were you expecting Barack Obama?" I then proceeded to tell him that appeared that the President had just arrived, and that there were Secret Service around, and a black car with a presidential seal outside. I said that he should come to the window to look at it. He got out of the chair. Success!

Later, I played the high status person. I was writing, when Thrill walked in slowly and carefully and said, "Don't move. Don't get out of the chair." He then said that there was a bomb underneath my chair, and that it had to have weight on it so that it wouldn't go off. He said that "they" wanted me out of there and had sent him to put his weight on the chair until they could disarm the thing. Slowly and carefully, we changed who was sitting in the chair. Acting Professoressa said that it was good, but that she couldn't understand why I had so easily believed that there was a bomb under my chair, or that I would trust this random man walking in whom I didn't seem to know.

Here's the full list of how things worked out (Low Status person listed first):

1. Me + D-Train: Fire in the kitchen.
2. Me + D-Train: Barack Obama has arrived.
3. Iceman + Wifey: Claude, her hairstylist, was ready for her.
4. Newbie + All-the-Way: A detective and police officers were downstairs with a warrant and had towed All-the-Way's car.
5. Killer + Big Show: Acting Professor (from 1st year) was in the next room and wasn't breathing, and someone needed to call 911.
6. Killer + Big Show: Killer hurt his back trying to move a box and needed help. When that didn't work, Killer played the sympathy card until Big Show came over to comfort him.
7. Two-Shots-Up + O.D.: Two-Shots-Up was a building inspector. But O.D.'s reason for staying seated was that he was an expectant father on a bus bench who needed $5 to get to the hospital. They couldn't resolve that conflict.
8. Two-Shots-Up + O.D.: Two-Shots-Up needed O.D.'s help to find a missing jewelry box full of expensive heirlooms that his dead father left him. O.D. was in the chair wanting to be alone to grieve.
9. Thrill + Me: Bomb under the chair.
10. Big Show + Iceman: Big Show announced that Iceman had to leave because he was clearing out the room so his bosses could hold a meeting in it. Iceman said he had a rehearsal there, but he eventually got up to try to hash it out with Big Show's bosses.
11. D-Train + Thrill: D-Train said that Thrill's sister had arrived with his nephews in tow. He then said that Thrill's sister had just left her husband, had a black eye, and seemed upset. Thrill called his sister, who was fine, and fired D-Train. It didn't work out quite right.
12. All-the-Way + Two-Shots-Up: All-the-Way fainted and Two-Shots-Up got up to see if she was okay.
13. Wifey + Killer: Wifey was Killer's servant, and declared her love for him. He laughed it off.
14. O.D. + Newbie: O.D. said "I love you". Newbie, the High Status person who was sitting, said she was waiting for the ladies room and needed him to see if it was free. It wasn't. Strangely, he couldn't get her out of the chair even though she seemed like she wanted to get out of it.
15. O.D. + Newbie: Newbie had just had back surgery. O.D. told her the chair she was sitting in was broken and needed repair. He brought over a new chair and helped her to stand up.


Only one Yin Yang exercise had time to start, and we didn't get very far into it. Big Show + O.D. were brothers whose father was in a coma. Big Show wanted to take him off life support, but O.D. refused. O.D.'s current life need was preparing to propose to his girlfriend. Big Show's new information was that their father had just been declared brain dead. They're going to try it again tomorrow.

Our homework is to:
- Make a list of 5 goals for next year
- Find 5 examples of antithesis used as a rhetorical device in The Greeks.
- Compose 5 examples of antithesis used as a rhetorical device.

8/26/09

Wednesday, August 26

Voice
Voice Professor says that we will at some point work on an Irish dialect this year (urban Dublin). So cool!

Today, we just spent all of class revisiting our tremor positions. Today was 1st Position, 2nd Position, Dying Cockroach, Arm Tremor, and Half-Plow. I think we'll do the rest tomorrow.

I really have no endurance when it comes to destructuring. I think it's because of how violent my tremors are. After about 30 seconds in a position, I'm work out. I hadn't done 2nd-Position or Dying Cockroach in a long time (2nd because I have easily-injured hip sockets that don't like it; Dying Cockroach because it's too intense a tremor and I can't control).


Movement
We started with Clouding. Today was the first time that I had ever been clouded, and it was kinda scary for me. The basic concept is that one person "falls up" into the air, and everyone else uses their hands to support the person's movements. It's kind of like a really advanced version of the game "light as a feather, stiff as a board" that people played in middle school. Everyone went today. It's not that I don't trust my classmates (because I truly do); it's just freaky to look down from that position.

After that, we started with the basics of an exercise called "Little Bears", which is apparently a version of contact improvisation. Two people would get on their hands and knees next to each other, and try to synchronize their breaths, and then their impulses. I didn't go today. It seemed trickier than you might think.


Acting
Acting Professoressa started off by having us review what we talked about yesterday (she says it's always a good idea to do so). She then started telling us about her expectations of us for her class.

Expectations:
- At the first read/rehearsal of new material, come in with the basic questions answered. Understand everything you're saying. Have an approach to try out. Have somewhere to go. And, most importantly, come in with a "need" already mapped out.
- Take the challenge of technical mastery seriously. This is especially true of the clear, clean use of language.
- Don't "hit the clear button" from class to class. Mentally go over what you've learned after class to make sure it's going to stay in your brain. Synthesize the work from all classes. Bring it all in and make it work for you.
- Be a good colleague.
- Avoid working out of a fear of failure. Don't pull back because you're trying to not get notes. Be hungry for notes. And when you get them, say "thank you" or "okay". If you have questions, clear them up in a polite way before your next run. Remember notes the FIRST TIME you get them.
- Budget your time well.
- Do the homework.
- Have drive about what you want to achieve.

At one point, Acting Professoressa compared acting to Harry Potter, and I totally geeked out. She said that Harry has to leave the muggle world and enter the wizard world to be successful. This is similar to the actor leaving their own world to enter the world of the character. They are both realities (Reality #1 and Reality #2, respectively, as she calls them).

She says that when you get a character, you have to put it in a centrifuge (like they do with blood on crime shows) to figure out what all the components are. Some of the most important traits to "test for" are things like "What does the character think morality means?", "What is the character's greatest fear?", and "What are the implications if the character fails to get his/her need met?" (and they'd better be huge).

We started playing some Status scenes. Status reflects the relative position of social standing. The rules of the scenes were:

- The high status character is seated.
- The low status character enters through the door, as though they have been called to enter the room.
- The high status character reads a recipe aloud. (Acting Professoressa gave us the recipes to read)
- The high status character stands up and walks over to the low status character.
- The high status character smiles.
- The high status character exits.

I noticed that in most of the pairings of my classmates, certain patterns began to form.

Low status:
- Standing still
- Looking down or directly at the high status person
- Nodding

High status:
- older in age
- condescending
- angry/upset/bad mood
- sitting still
- slow, deliberate speech

So, when it was my turn, I decided to kind of experiment with things. Because if you can't experiment in graduate school, then when can you?

When I was the Low Status person, I tried having like 8 other things on my mind. I fidgeted and wandered. I was staring upwards or perhaps off into the distance (trying to recall if we had all ingredients in the pantry). All-The-Way (who was the High Status person) was really intimidating. She gave me so much to work off of, which was awesome. By the end, I had turned into someone really kind of nervous and frightened.

When I was high status, I tried being young, excitable, and hyper-active. I was REALLY EXCITED about the recipe, and was trying to get the low-status person (Killer) excited, too. I also tried being a fast-talker, which made Killer's job (presumably as the servant who was going to have to make said recited recipe) very difficult (because he had no idea how he was going to remember the recipe).

Acting Professoressa seemed to be in support of my experiments. But after the Low Status one, she advised me to "be careful of leaking" instead of "trying to fix the problem" in the scene. She said that I did a good job of seeming like a real person (instead of a slave), but that I was wearing all the emotions instead of just feeling them.


Homework
Our homework for Acting class is a pairs assignment, preparing for some improvisation scene-work for tomorrow. My partner is Two-Shots-Up, so we got together tonight to work on our scenario. Here are the guidelines that Acting Professoressa gave us.

YIN-YANG EXERCISES

1. Establish the relationship. Make the relationship important. (Don't choose you and the waiter who serves you lunch.)

2. Establish "X." "X" is the subject of the conflict, the desired, needed object in the problem. Make it specific. The person in the room has "X." He or she should have very strong reasons for denying "X" to the partner. The person coming into the room wants "X." He or she must have a very strong objective -- to get "X" or to achieve "X." "X" might be an incriminating letter, for example. Getting or refusing to relinquish "X" should have very important consequences. (Not a pizza, for instance.)

3. The person in the room must have an independent life need that doesn't anticipate the arrival of the person coming into the room. This independent life need must have some urgency attached to it. It might take the form of dressing to go to a job interview, for example. It must be important. (Hint: bring props.)

4. The conflict must be built in. That is, today is not the first time you've discussed the fact that the person coming into the room wants "X." Nor is it the first time the person in the room has denied "X." All the arguments for and against have been hashed out before. The person coming into the room must decide why is the issue hot today. What is it that allows you and compels you to come in and try again?

5. This is not a course in screen writing. Originality isn't what's important. Simply work toward developing given circumstances that have potential to activate something deep in you and in your partner.

6. A note to the person in the room: if you and your partner decide that your "packing" includes having been treated badly by that partner, make sure that enough time has passed since the injury to allow for you to have, to some extent, recovered.

7. Partners should agree on all the given circumstances of their past lives. If they were formerly married, for instance, how long did the marriage last? The course the conflict has taken is also to be agreed on. Do not discuss with your partner anything to do with your independent life need (in the cast of the person in the room) or the "why today" issue (in the case of the person coming into the room).

8. Remember that partners should discuss only three things:
- Given Circumstances
- Relationship
- X


I just realized while typing this up that we may have done it a little bit wrong... I'll let you know how it goes.

~A~

8/25/09

Tuesday, August 25

The first day of classes! So exciting. I feel like I've been hibernating all summer, and I'm finally awake.

In honor of the first day, I wore my brand new glitzy shirt:
Totally appropriate, I thought. :)


VOICE
I'm so used to writing about Movement first in these blog posts, but this year my days begin different. Voice comes first. In some ways, it's kind of nice. A slower way to start the morning. Less intense than a nine o'clock date with a jumprope. But it's going to be weird for a while (especially the transition of going from the physically relaxed state of Voice class straight into the rope-jumping and dance whatnot).

We have a Standard American Dialect Exam on September 8th, using passages from the short story "Lady with the Lapdog" by Anton Chekov. We were instructed to review our IPA in preparation for this.

This semester we will begin work with British RP (i.e. Received Pronunciation) dialect. I'm pretty geeked for it.


MOVEMENT
We have to buy the book How to Learn the Alexander Technique by Barbara Conable. We also need to get dance clothes and a couple of pairs of dance shoes. Why? Because this is the semester where we dabble in tap and ballet. Lastly, we have to obtain small dumbbells for some sort of strength training. (Movement Professor recommended that females get somewhere between 3-8 lbs, so I think I'm going to get 5 lbs. Males are not supposed to get more than 15 lbs.)


ACTING II
The new class on my schedule! Our instructor (whom shall be known henceforth as Acting Professoressa) went around the room, shook our hands, and welcomed each of us to the second year. Pretty great.

In the three hour class, I took 7.5 pages of notes. I won't subject you to all of them, as I'm sure they'll come up as the year progresses.

She said that over the summer, her puppy jumped into water, and for a split-second she was worried. But the dog instinctively began to paddle. Acting Professoressa said that she wished that we, as actors, could have witnessed that moment. She said, "She didn't go into her head and figure it out; she just did it." She says that we need to use our intuition and impulses in the same way.

We were all assigned three individual projects. The first is a "Cultural Anthroplogy Project" on Classical Greece. The second is the "Adopt-A-God" project. The third is the "Great Actor Series". We all have different assignments.

Cultural Anthropology Project
Me - WOMEN: marriage, divorce, child-rearing, housekeeping
All-The-Way - BEAUTY & DRESS
Big Show - RELIGION: gods, shires, oracles, festivals
D-Train - DEATH: funerals and the postmortem journey
Iceman - THE MILITARY
Killer - VALUES: common threads
Newbie - LOVE, SEX, HOMOSEXUALITY
O.D. - SLAVERY & FREEDOM
Thrill - RECREATION: free men's amusements, children's games, etc.
Two-Shots-Up - EATING & COOKING: banquets, drinking
Wifey - HEALTH & MEDICINE


Adopt-A-God
(preparing to have a personal relationship with the gods)
Me: Hera
All-The-Way: Artemis
Big Show: Apollo
D-Train: Poseidon
Iceman: Zeus
Killer: Hades
Newbie: Athena
O.D.: Dionysus
Thrill: Ares
Two-Shots-Up: Aphrodite & Eros
Wifey: Demeter & Persephone

Great Actor Series
Me: Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) & Eleanora Duse (1859-1924)
All-The-Way: Sarah Siddons (1755-1831)
Big Show: John Gielgud (1904-2000) & Laurence Olivier (1907-1989)
D-Train: Edmund Kean (1787-1833)
Iceman: David Garrick (1717-1779)
Killer: Edwin Forrest (1806-1872) & William Macready (1793-1873)
Newbie: Henry Irving (1838-1905) & Ellen Terry (1847-1928)
O.D.: Richard Burbage (1567-1619)
Thrill: Thomas Betterton (1635-1710)
Two-Shots-Up: The Booths -- Junius Brutus Booth (1796-1832), Edwin Booth (1833-1893), & John Wilkes Booth (1838-1856)
Wifey: Charlotte Cushman (1816-1876)

Our homework for tonight is to reread the introduction to The Greeks (which we read over the summer), and to read a handout on "Greek Period Style".


As is tradition, I had Acting Professoressa take a "first day of the semester" photograph of my class. They kindly obliged.

Back row: Killer, O.D., Iceman, Newbie, Wifey, Big Show, Thrill
Front row: All-The-Way, D-Train, Two-Shots-Up, Me

And the goofy shot!
Back row: Killer, O.D., Iceman, Newbie, Wifey, Big Show, Thrill
Front row: All-The-Way, D-Train, Two-Shots-Up, Me

8/24/09

Monday, August 24

Today was the All-Program Orientation. It's hard to believe that the first Orientation I blogged about was a year ago. I have to say, it's really a rather different experience the second time around. I felt so "in the know." It was actually kind of awesome. I think I get a rush off of knowing the answers to things.

Once again, we were reminded of how special this school is. It's such an unusual thing for a graduate program to be housed in the same building as an Equity theatre. Artistic Director of the theatre welcomed us back, saying, "Suddenly, this building is alive, because you are all here." The situation we're in is incredible, when you think about it.

Artistic Director also said, "You tend to grow exponentially in your second year." I hope to prove him right.

We took some group photos of all the students and faculty gathered together, which was fun. If I get permission to, I'll post one here.

I am now going to be a mentor (as all second year students are) to a first year student (1st-Year SDW). It's crazy to think that I actually have knowledge to impart about graduate school. I have conflicting emotions on the matter; I simultaneously feel like I've lived here forever and I got here yesterday.

Second-year students also have the pleasure of assisting a professor or a department. I will be assisting the 2nd-year Acting Professor, whom will henceforth be called Acting Professoressa (she didn't previously have a blog nickname, and it feels strange to call her "Acting Professor" after having used that nickname for my 1st-year Acting Professor for a whole year... so I decided to go for the Italian).

My class elected Two-Shots-Up and Wifey as our new Student Reps (which really means that they volunteered for the position). The control-freak side of me is a little sad to not be returning to the post (you can only be a Student Rep for one term), but for the most part I'm relieved to have one less thing to be responsible for this year.

Tomorrow is the first day of classes. I guess I'm off to get my beauty sleep. :)

~A~

8/21/09

Friday, August 21

Well, I'm officially back in Florida. Orientation is Monday, and classes for my second year of grad school (the "F" in "MFA") begin on Tuesday. So weird!

Before the summer began, I had a few pieces of advice that I knew I wanted to follow:
- Analysis Professor said that actors should read 3-4 plays per week.
- Movement Professor said that actors should try to watch a movie every day.
- Acting I Professor said that actors should always be reading. (And he seemed pretty shocked that I'd never read any Dostoyevsky... I'm sure I'll get around to it eventually)

I knew that, realistically, I wasn't going to do all of the above over my summer break, but I did want to make a conscious effort to read/watch more than I normally would. Since school got out...

I have watched 28 movies.
I have attended 6 plays and 2 musicals.
I have finished reading 7 plays (although that would be 17 if you counted my required reading for the summer...).
I have started reading another play (but I'm pretty sure that I left it in Connecticut...).
I have finished reading 2 books.
I have started reading 2 other books.

Considering that I had a full-time job, I think that's pretty good. It's certainly a lot better than I would've done if I hadn't been tracking myself.

It's weird how quickly the summer has passed. But now that I'm back, everything makes sense again. It feels like I never should have left. This is where I belong.

~A~

8/12/09

The Set

In case you were curious, here's a little taste of what it was like to be on set for the film I worked on (I took this video between takes):

video

8/10/09

Link Love 1

I've noticed that a lot of people stop by this site, and then click on tons of links from my list of "Related Blogs". Normally, I have it set so that the blogs with the most recent posts are showing, but that shows heavy bias to blogs with frequent posts (which are usually not personal blogs). So I thought I'd do a little Link Love Blog Round-Up, to recognize some great sites out there that might be of interest to people who read mine!

(NOTE: I do not read all of these on a regular basis -- I'm a busy grad student after all -- but I still thought they still might be interesting for others to check out.)


My Personal Favorites:

- A Drop of Water
Tim just graduated from college. He is now working with a professional theatre company in a town of less than 800 people. He excited about the theatre, and he seems like a great guy. I've really enjoyed reading about his journey. He's also starting a new, more acting-centered blog, Actor Called Tim.

- Actress in the City
"Miss Musical" is a Minnesota-native who posts about her life in NYC. It's not strictly about her acting career (she talks about dating a lot as well, as well as assorted topics... like her love of Girl Scout Cookies), but it's a great blog. She refers to her readers as "lovlies", and is generally delightful. She goes on auditions for musicals in the city all the time, and frequently gets great feedback and callbacks, but is still waiting for a break. I'm really rooting for her!

- Back from the Dead
Sara has been studying special effects make-up. She has some really great pictures on her blog. I found her blog because I'm friends with her sister. It's a side of film that I really knew nothing about before checking out her blog. She doesn't post often, but I recommend checking out her archive. Very cool.

- Dennis Baker, LLC
Dennis Baker and I don't see eye to eye on everything, but I enjoy reading his blog anyway. He always finds interesting, relevant things to write about.

- is it real, or am i dreaming?
Written by a girl I went to college with. She's now an aspiring Stage Manager.

- Notes on Acting
David Millstone's blog is very near and dear to my heart because of his education being similar to my own. He recently graduated with his MFA in Acting from the University of Houston, and has been acting at the Oklahoma Shakespeare Festival this summer.

- NYT > Theatre
I met the guy who runs this site recently, and he puts a lot of effort into all the multimedia functions of it. It's really a great resource if you're interested in getting a closer look at theatre in NYC.

- The Road to a Dream's Reality
I met Alfie last December when he was performing in Barnum at my Rep theatre. He's the funniest guy ever (he once bought a tacky holiday sweater off of a woman he saw shopping at Goodwill to wear to an Ugly Sweater Party), and is super nice. He's in his Broadway debut now, dancing in South Pacific. I'm so excited for him!

- Shakespeare Geek
It seems almost hard to believe that someone could have enough material to write about Shakespeare on a regular basis, but it's true. And this man's love for Shakespeare comes up in his daily life frequently (he tells his children about the plays as bedtime stories, and sings a sonnet to them as a lullaby). It's great to know that there are people out there (non-actors!) still celebrating the Bard regularly.

- Unscripted (by Back Stage)
Written by a group of regularly contributing actors.




Actors

- Actress on the Rise

- An Actor, Unedited

- Dream Chaser

- The Erin Cronicals

- The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

- for your VINformation

- Hi Diddly Dee, an Actor's Life for Me

- Holliewood

- Hot and Nearly Famous

- i love this city always

- Living Truthfully

- Lydia's Journey in Hollywood

- MN 2 Hollywood

- Musings of an Aging Ingenue

- My Shining Palace: An Actor's Journal

- My World of Acting

- Passing Understanding

- Perspectives

- Photoplayer Hater

- Random Musings from the Downbeat

- Receptionist, Not Slave

- Salut Minou

- Scenes from a Charmed Life

- Sheylara

- Showman/Shaman

- The Spiritual Creative

- Star in the Making

- Stephon's World

- StinkyLulu

- Suzanne Ford: LA Actor's Life Examiner

- That Girl Crystal

- Umbrella Blue

- Visible Soul

- The Voice of an Actor



Vlogs

- Mike McCafferty?
Mike creates his own material. He frequently posts videos on his site. He doesn't post often, so he often gets lost on my blogroll.



Advice for Actors

- Actor-Preneur
Written by an agent. He stresses the "business" part of "show business".

- The Actors Blog Network
An collection of posts from other acting blogs.

- Answers for Actors
Written by Paul Russell Casting

- Artist Magnet

- Bite-Size Business for Actors

- Blog Stage (from Back Stage)

- Headshot Blog

- New York Acting News: Entertainment Bleekly

- Innerstage

- The Secret of Theatrical Space



Theatre

- ArtsBeat (from the New York Times)

- Broadway Blog (from New York Show Tickets)

- Broadway Pulse (from Broadway World)

- BroadwayWorld.com (featured content)

- Culturebot

- Espresso: A Daily Jolt of News (by Back Stage)

- Musical Theatre Spot

- Parabasis

- The Playgoer

- Theatre Ideas



Auditions

- The ActorCast Blog

- Auditions and Casting



Specific Theatres

- The Artists Formerly Known as Milwaukee Shakespeare

- Backstage at Seattle Rep

- Praxis Theatre

- Westport Country Playhouse -- The Playhouse Blog



Celebrities

- The JRB Weblog
Written by Jason Robert Brown

- Pam/Jenna MySpace Blog
Written by Jenna Fischer

- Simply Broadway
Written by Aaron Lazar

- WWdN: In Exile
written by Wil Wheaton



More

- Back Stage 411: Casting FAQ

- Community Perspectives: Riffing with John Clinton Eisner

- Creating Theater
Written by a director.

- Method-ology

- NYU Educational Theatre Graduate Student
Also written by Dennis Baker.

- Off-Stage-Right

- One Producer in the City

- Pataphysical Science

- Ryan J. Davis

- Script Shadow

8/9/09

Movie Premiere


The premiere of Evelyn Sack's Eleven o'Clock Number (the graduate film I worked on) was on Friday in Tallahassee. Sadly, I was unable to attend. But I thought I'd share a promo poster that was made for the film. (That's me!)