Friday, October 30

Voice Professor recommends that we get off-book for our Portia monologue as much as possible over the weekend, as our exam is next week. While getting off-book, we have to memorize our scoring as well as the actual text.

Movement Professor is back! We showed her the jazz routine that we had been working on with Dance Instructor while she was gone. She seemed excited about it, and I think she's going to continue working with us on it.

Man, one day back in ballet was all it took to make my core muscles a little sore again. Crazy stuff.

I had a mid-semester conference with Movement Professor over my lunch break. We talked about my frustrations during our stretching unit. I think she and I are both glad to be past that. She seems pretty happy with my progress in ballet work, and I am, too. Ballet is fun.

She showed me what I was doing wrong with my 2nd-Position tondu (or however you spell that). I was putting my leg too far back. So that's an easy fix. Also, I'm going too low in my pliés right now, but I can fix that, too.

Two-Shots-Up gave a presentation about the Booth family as part of The Great Actor Series. Junius Brutus Booth was the father of Junius Brutus Booth Jr., Edwin Booth, and John Wilkes Booth (who, of course, became more well-known for assassinating President Lincoln than for his acting). Edwin Booth was a brilliant and famous actor, but it was hard for him to find work after his brother went nuts. Interesting stuff.

We had all read the first chapter of Playing Shakespeare by John Barton, and discussed his concept of The Two Traditions. We also discussed the pros and cons of contemporizing Shakespeare.

After that was our Rhetoric lesson. Here's a list of rhetorical devices from one of our many hand-outs.

Straight Builds
Shared Builds






Historic Rhyme
End Rhyme


We went through explanations of all of these, as well as several examples. After that, Acting Professoressa passed around a basket with quotations from various Shakespearean plays, and we all got to pick a couple out, and then try to identify the devices present in that text. It was fun.

A couple more things that we discussed that weren't on that sheet:

- "Thou" was a less formal address than "You". It's important to note when characters switch back and forth between the two. (like Lady Capulet does in Romeo and Juliet, III, v)

- Choose against making questions rhetorical. It's not very active, and therefore not useful in persuasion. It's better to make them real questions.

Acting Professoressa has asked us to try to be off-book with our sonnets by Tuesday.


Thursday, October 29

I went to see Life in the Middle again this morning, and loved it even more than the first time. Seriously, it's a wonderful show. I was so moved by it. At one point I laughed and had an audience of middle schoolers staring at me as though I were a freak, reminding me perfectly of what it was like to have the pressure to fit in back in my younger days. At another point, I cried, and Big Show put his arm around me... Trust me, Big Show and I would not have gotten along as our middle school selves, but the fact that we can be good friends is I think encouraging when I think about all the snippets of young lives in the show; they will grow up, they will move on, they will do great things, and I hope that they will be able to put their differences aside and be supportive of each other as individuals one day.

I love the class of 2010. I'm so proud of them.

We actually didn't have Voice class this morning (morning classes are canceled for 2nd-Years the morning after an Opening Night... THANK GOD), but I never wrote about yesterday's class, so here goes:

Voice Professor's big advice to the eight of us in The Mystery Plays going into Opening Night? Don't be seduced by the audience. Don't play into them. Don't ham it up. Excellent advice, I thought.

After many classes of trying to dissect our Shakespearean texts and identify rhetorical devices, we started discussing how to actually PLAY those choices.

With operatives, you can emphasize them by changing one of three things:
- your pitch
- your rate
- your volume

Voice Professor advised against over-using volume as the method of highlighting operatives. She said the most useful method is pitch-changing.

Acting Professoressa had us start off class by taking turns reading aloud this article from the New York Times: Whispers Offstage? Could Be Actor's Next Line.

We talked a little about The Mystery Plays, and Acting Professoressa had a great piece of advice: when giving other actors compliments, try to be specific.

We moved onto discussing and scanning more sonnets. I got a migraine from frustration. When I got to this school, I really loved scansion and thought I had a good handle on it. But between Voice class and Acting class, I'm really confused now.

Our homework is to figure out two sets of actions/needs/"doings" for our sonnets. The first set should be literal, and the second should be sensual. So, for example, if I am literally trying "to persuade", I might be sensually trying "to juice". If I'm literally trying "to calm", I might sensually be trying, "to stroke". If I were literally trying "to persuade", I might be sensually trying "to lick". Things like that. The goal is to be able to change the partner by saying the poem.

Additionally, we are to read the first chapter of Playing Shakespeare by John Barton.

Acting Professoressa also recommended trying to "walk" the sonnet to get a feel for the rhythm and the irregularities of the text. (Someone -- I think it was Killer -- then made a joke about "Dancing with the Sonnets" that was pretty entertaining).

It's nice that the show is open now. It feels freer already. I realized yesterday just how much I truly love this show. It's such a great journey to travel through as an actor, and it has such positive messages. I dig it. And our audiences have seemed to love it, too, which is super cool.


Wednesday, October 28


And you only have a window of 3 weeks to see it, so go buy your tickets NOW.

It was exhilarating. I'm so proud of my company. And people were incredibly complimentary and supportive. Yay hooray!

Congratulations to All-The-Way, D-Train, Iceman, Big Show, Newbie, O.D., and Wifey! I love you guys!

And now, I'm off to bed.


Tuesday, October 27

We got our scoring exams back today. I actually did shockingly well on mine, considering how confused I was right before I turned it in. We spent most of the class period discussing questions that individuals had on their tests.

Here are a few more notes on our scoring rules:
- You cannot have a full sentence without operatives.
- You cannot use a trochee in the 5th foot. (although I feel like I've seen a line that was entirely trochaic once... I wonder if that would be okay...)
- You cannot use a pyrrhic in the 5th foot.

Movement Professor is out of town (she was asked to perform at Merce Cunningham's memorial), so Dance Instructor (who taught us waltz last year and will be teaching tap later this year) is doing a jazz workshop with us for a couple of days.

I really like jazz stuff. It's very fluid, which is fun, but simultaneously seems to use what Michael Chekhov would call a "molding" quality. And I dig that. I have to say, though, I don't remember the last time I've sweat as much as I did today.

In the afternoon we had a run-through and notes session. Head of Program stressed how important it is to keep everything sharp, clean, energized, and weighted. We need to know what we are responsible for communicating in order to move the story forward.

At night, we had a preview performance. Rumor has it that there were 58 people in the audience (which is, strangely, a number that is significant in the show). It went really well. I'm excited for our official opening tomorrow night. It's a great show, and I'm glad that we're finally getting to share it with people.

I'm especially excited because I think the show has some really positive messages in it.
- Everything happens for a reason.
- God is in everything, even if you don't see him there.
- Forgiveness is easier than you think, and saves a lot of pain.

I'm glad to be telling these stories. I hope that we can tell them well enough so that audiences get as much out of them as I have.

Here are some photos taken at a dress rehearsal on Sunday (unfortunately, I don't have any of me):

(All-The-Way, D-Train, Wifey, and O.D.)

(Big Show and D-Train)

(Newbie, All-The-Way, and O.D.)

(Iceman, O.D., and Newbie)

(O.D. and Newbie)


Quotations: Volume 37

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

(Disclaimer: quotations are often taken out of context and may not accurately reflect the way they were originally intended)

(in a discussion of how to build vocal energy in lists in Shakespearean texts)
Voice Professor: You would probably never emphasize the word "milk" in a list for example.
D-Train: But sometimes you would stress milk in a list if it were funny in context.
Angela: Like, "I need fuses, and kerosene, and dynamite... and milk!"
Voice Professor: Do you say that?
Angela: I was making an example of a list where milk is funny.
Voice Professor: (completely straight-faced) Oh. And it was.
D-Train: (sarcastically, to Voice Professor) That was convincing.
Voice Professor: I don't always laugh when things are funny. Sometimes I just appreciate the humor on an intellectual level.

"[Killer], instead of making this like a 'brain drain', make it 'fun with sound one-oh-one'.
- Voice Professor

"I don't think you'd say 's***' in front of the Queen."
- Wifey, trying to give a modern comparison to demonstrate that Elizabethans wouldn't have said "thou" in formal situations

"You should ultimately do whatever works for you. You might think, 'Brackets around sentences are crap. I'm not doing that.' And that's fine for you and you don't have to. But while you're in my class, you'll put the d*** brackets there."
- Voice Professor

D-Train: This just seems so amazingly technical to me.
Voice Professor: It IS amazingly technical. It's called 'scoring a text'.

Voice Professor: Oh God, help us. We get to operatives tomorrow. Everyone prepare to remain calm. Did everyone hear that?
Class: Yes!
Voice Professor: Good. Prepare to remain calm. Operatives tend to bring up a lot of ire.

"If this scene doesn't keep moving forward, we might as well just hand out a dramaturgical note and all go home early."
- Head of Program, during a rehearsal for The Mystery Plays

"Guys, we probably... we might be able to pull this off. That wasn't too sucky."
- Head of Program, after a run-through of The Mystery Plays

(after D-Train put on sunglasses that his character wears in The Mystery Plays)
Voice Professor: They make him look like Bono.
Head of Program: He does NOT look like Bono. Trust me.
D-Train: Was that a slam?
Head of Program: No. It was a comment on Bono.

(on the scoring assignment due Friday that had been assigned last week, after Voice Professor cut off all possibility for deadline extension)
Voice Professor: If you feel rushed....
O.D.: Then it's your own damn fault?
Voice Professor: Well, there's that.

Voice Professor: I did it on a whim. (she said "whim" properly with the "hwuh" sound at the beginning)
All-The-Way: On a WHim? (emphasizing the "hwuh")
Voice Professor: Yes. My whimsy is so whimsical it's unbelievable.

(after All-The-Way made a scoring suggestion, she clarified that it was just something she wanted to try out)
All-The-Way: I'm acknowledging I could be wrong.
Voice Professor: It's also 'cause I made a face. I'm wicked sorry about that.

(after Voice Professor said something would only be correct in a French dialect)
D-Train: What about Dublin?
Voice Professor: (horrified, as D-Train has accidentally slipped into Dublin in The Mystery Plays for a character that is not Irish) NO! In fact, when we do Irish, you're sitting out!

(after Acting Professoressa started talking about some books that she had on CD-ROMs that she thought we might find useful and might want to purchase)
O.D.: Is this something that we can reproduce?
Acting Professoressa: Are you asking me to do something illegal, Mister [O.D.]?
O.D.: No. Of course not... (trails off)
Acting Professoressa: Scholar [O.D.]?
O.D.: It's for educational purposes.

(after Acting Professoressa explained that people have mapped out the genealogy of characters in Shakespeare's plays, and have mapped out all the locations based on descriptions)
Iceman: It's kind of amazing that people spend their time doin' this stuff.
Wifey: Oh yeah. How else do people get a doctorate?

(during tech, while listening to sound cues that sound bell-like)
D-Train: This soundtrack really needs to have "Carol of the Bells" in it somewhere.
Angela: Oh, it's already in it. This song? It's "Carol of the Bells" played backward. It makes it creepier and more satanic.
All-The-Way: In a minute, it'll say "Santa Claus is dead."

"It's so beautiful... And tragic."
- D-Train, on a sound cue in The Mystery Plays

"How did we get Colette up here?"
- Head of Program, on one of Wifey's costumes in The Mystery Plays

(during a notes session after the final weekend run of The Mystery Plays), after Head of Program has given a note to D-Train)
Head of Program: Do you think you can do that on Tuesday afternoon?
D-Train: (pause) Yeah.
(laughter from cast and crew)
Head of Program: I swear... You are gonna be so lucky if you make it to graduation.


Thursday, October 22

We continued with operatives and colored words for a bit. We got a new "hint" about operatives: they are not usually in parentheticals.

Then we moved into breathing.

Marking breathing has proven to be REALLY DIFFICULT for me. I learned breathing a completely different way previously (in First Folio classes back when I lived in Chicago), and letting that go isn't easy. At one point today, Voice Professor said I had "plastered a look of disdain" on my face, which was unintentional and I felt terrible about it. But it's hard to learn one thing so solidly for so long, and then to be told that for this class, it's completely and totally wrong.

So for this class, breathing goes as such...

MUST BREATHE: At all periods, question marks, and exclamation points (even if they're in the middle of the verse-line)

CANNOT BREATHE: At enjambment

USUALLY BREATHE: At colons and semi-colons

ALLOWED TO BREATHE: At commas -- depending on context (even if they're in the middle of the verse-line)

Voice Professor was very clear in pointing out that "breath" does not mean "pause". They are quick catch-breaths.

We started off by discussing the value of The Greeks, and how training from our 1st-year both prepared us for and differed from the classical training of the 2nd-year. Acting Professor says that it's kind of like a dance where you learn the steps and then go home and drill them until they become natural.

All-The-Way and D-Train had Great Actors Series presentations today. All-The-Way spoke about Sarah Siddons (the most iconic tragic actress of her time). D-Train discussed Edmund Kean (who was probably the first actor to incorporate his spontaneous impulses into his work instead of relying heavily on technique, and personalized language instead of just orating).

Then we talked about the Shakespearean sonnets that we're going to be using for our next unit. Acting Professoressa says that we do sonnet work to try to blend passion and eloquence (as one always tries to do with heightened language). We are going to make each sonnet into a theatrical event in just 14 lines.

In general, sonnets are usually set up like:
1st quatrain - set out a theme
2nd quatrain - expand on that theme
3rd quatrain - personalize the theme
couplet - twist/button/surprise/summation

We have 154 sonnets that Shakespeare wrote, which are sometimes thought of in categories (which may or may not be historically accurate):
1-126 -- To "The Young Man" (the first 17 of which are urging him to procreate so that his beauty might be preserved
127-152 -- Regarding "The Mysterious Dark Woman", who apparently is a subject of desire for both the poet and The Young Man
153-154 -- A story about Cupid

Here are the sonnets that we will be working with...

All-The-Way: 61
Angela: 115
Big Show: 97
D-Train: 27
Iceman: 145
Killer: 43
Newbie: 18
O.D.: 29
Thrill: 12
Two-Shots-Up: 62
Wifey: 34

Tech is s-l-o-w. This show is really tech heavy, so I think we expected it. But after seeing some of the tech stuff today, I think this show is going to look and sound incredible by the time it's fully cooked.


Wednesday, October 21

Today was our first day playing around with "operatives", which are the words in a sentence that you really use/play in order to get the point across and obtain your need. They are usually the most important words in the sentence.

Here are some things we discussed about identifying operatives:
- There is a vague, often broken "Rule of Three", which states that there are no more than three operatives per sentence.
- Look for active verbs, as those are a good place to look for operatives
- Frequently words that come at/near the end of a sentence are most operative.
- Avoid marking operatives that are close together, as one usually detracts from the other.
- "Red Houses" (phrases/images in which more than one word needs stress) count as one operative.
- Look to the direct object, as that is sometimes an operative.
- If you stress everything, you're stressing nothing, and the effect is assaultive to the audience.
- If a word is something that you wouldn't bother typing in a text message (or sending in a telegram), then it's not going to be operative.
- If an image/concept/word has already been established in the speech, then it does not need to be reestablished with operatives.
- Lists often take care of themselves and don't require operatives because of the natural build. Occasionally, the last item in the list will contain an operative.

Voice Professor is also allowing us to use "colored words", which are not operatives, but carry a little extra weight.

I asked questions about the things we've been learning because I keep forgetting what they're all called, and which term applies to which move. Here are the things we've discussed so far (that I can remember):

- battement
- chassé
- dégagé
- demi-plié
- frappé
- pas de bourrée
- pirouette
- plié
- port de bras
- relevé
- rond de jambe
- tendu

There was a lovely picture of Newbie and O.D. in a local paper today!


We had a rehearsal from 1-4pm, in which we got notes, ran the show, and got more notes. My big note with Amanda-the-Agent was "don't get bored" (I over-corrected from last time, when I was too excited). My big note with Lucy-the-Lawyer was "don't start a new beat on the last line."

The lovely crew of 1st-years moved all of our set and props during our dinner break, and we began the slow, arduous process of tech-ing this very complicated show from 7-11pm. It's going to be a rough week.


Tuesday, October 20

We continued scoring our texts, which included:
- Putting brackets around complete thoughts (full sentences)
- Putting asterisks at the end of verse lines that contain enjambment (which is when there's no punctuation at the end of the line and the thought flows into the next line)
- Putting boxes around antithetical words and connecting the boxes with a line
- Numbering items in lists
- Putting parentheses around parenthetical statements

We also spent some time on inflection, which was a new topic for the day. Here's my chart:

. (period) = downward
! (exclamation point) = sustained OR upward OR downward
? (question mark) = upward (in Shakespeare)
, (comma) = upward OR sustained
: (colon) = sustained
; (semi-colon) = upward OR sustained
- (dash) = sustained

NOTE: There is no relationship between downward inflection and vocal energy.

Tomorrow we're going to head into operatives. Voice Professor has already warned us that it's going to be a tension-filled lesson.

Movement Professor is out of town, so our Waltz/Tap Instructor stepped in for the day to work on ballet with us. We also did some jazz things, including combinations across the floor with different focuses.

I have to say, I really love this dancing stuff. It's so joy-inducing. And even when I'm screwing it up, it still makes me happy. :)

We did a run in front of several 1st-Years who are going to be working crew for us in various capacities. Exciting! It actually went pretty well (and no one seemed more shocked than our director).

Lucy, my lawyer character, really started feeling like a person today. She's growing, and I'm relieved. Amanda, my agent character, is still a little disjointed, but she's getting there.

Voice Professor handed me the following notes:
- "...read about this wreck thing..." - unclear
- "this is buzz" - z more strongly
- Amanda's voice is wonderful! Know that she uses glottal attacks in her "dialect", which sounds exactly right for the character you've created. Your job is to take extra care of your voice since this falls into the "vocal extreme" type category. Great work!
- Excellent use of speech to carve out character + really tell the story
- I'll
(this was a note on the vowel sound I used being too Midwestern)
- "You were afraid that your father..." - operative (it's italics)

My notes from the Director were:
- Amanda needs to pick up cues, especially in the first two scenes, and really move things along. (Voice Professor clarified that this is NOT a note about pacing, but just about external cuing).
- Amanda should not get too excited about Burke Denning's treatment
- Lucy needs to help energize scene and move it along

Over the weekend, I had TWO opportunities to see the 3rd-Year Class in action.

On Sunday night, I went to In Progress: The London Monologues. As part of our program, students go to London for 6 weeks to study during the summer after 2nd-Year (which means I'm going in May!). One of the classes we take there is a writing class, in which students end up writing a 20-minute monologue. Five members of the 3rd-year class did a Late Night show to let us see what they've been working on.

The monologues were SO GOOD. Oh, wow. I laughed, I cried, I loved. I am simultaneously excited for and terrified of the writing class in my future. I hope I can write something as interesting, funny, and moving as all of them did so successfully.

The second show was an ensemble piece of interview-theatre that the entire 3rd-Year class compiled/wrote/performed, called Life in the Middle. It was so much fun! I went to the Monday matinee in which the majority of the audience was comprised of middle schoolers (some of whom had been the ones interviewed for the project). It really transported me back to my middle school days (1995-1998, for the record... which suddenly seems not that long ago). I am incredibly proud of them. :)


Quotations: Volume 36

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

(Disclaimer: quotations are often taken out of context and may not accurately reflect the way they were originally intended)

"I have excellent peripheral vision. I trained with [Movement Professor]."
- Voice Professor

"Let's look at punctuation. Does everyone know what a comma is?"
- Voice Professor

"(quoting her handout)Exclamation Point: A mark of punctuation used to indicate excitement or emotion.' I took that straight from 'Conjunction Junction'. I didn't know how else to say it."
- Voice Professor

"Angela's saying just because you go off your diet doesn't mean you pig out all the rest of the day."
- Voice Professor, after I had tried to avoid the use of un-iambic meter in a line that had started with a trochee

"What's a Montague?"
- Iceman, making a joke after Voice Professor asked if there were any words we should look up in the Juliet monologue we're working on

"Ballet is a woman."
- Movement Professor

"If I screw up, just follow [All-The-Way]."
- Movement Professor

"I can't say this when the boys are here, but through ballet you can have the experience of rapture."
- Movement Professor

"Angela looks like a Muppet."
- Acting Professoressa, when Angela came to class wearing purple and black striped tights under her dress

(during rehearsal for The Greeks)
Acting Professoressa: [Thrill], you're swaying back and forth like a palm tree in a hurricane.
Thrill: Yeah, I got caught in an air conditioning draft there.

"This is work that you should begin the minute you wake up in the morning."
- Acting Professoressa

"Get connected before you enter. You've got to be in the zone."
- Acting Professoressa, on not just jumping in and out of character

(three unfamiliar men walked into the theatre while we were on break from Greeks rehearsal)
Iceman: (to the men) Hello, fellas!
(the men smile)
Angela: (whispers to Iceman)Who are they?
(the men leave)
Iceman: They're my new friends, that's all.

"Now listen, there were a surprising number of good things that happened today."
- Acting Professoressa, after Tuesday's run of The Greeks

(after Acting Professoressa had told D-Train that she wanted to work with him more on some Orestes stuff, and asked if he could meet on his lunch hour the following day)
D-Train: I don't know that we need to work it, or if I just need to answer some questions for myself and just let it grow in my stomach.
Acting Professoressa: If it's growin' in your stomach, I don't want to have anything to do with it.

"Could you please do that linking-ly? I just made up a word."
- Acting Professoressa

"Don't bounce Clytemnestra's head, is the note."
- Acting Professoressa, to Big Show after Wifey mentioned that she's getting abused while being a corpse

"They'd be like, 'Oh, somebody's rhyming. I guess it's my entrance.'"
- Voice Professoressa, on how rhyming couplets are often at the ends of speeches in Shakespeare plays because they were used as cues to off-stage actors who didn't have the whole script

"I don't care where you are. You could be on f***ing Coney Island, just come in on cue."
- Acting Professoressa

"Spit, don't dribble."
- Acting Professoressa, to O.D. regarding an action of his character of Peleus in Andromache

(to Killer about why, as a soldier, he shouldn't push Menelaus out of his way even though he's angry)
"It's about status. You know, I wouldn't go up and push [Artistic Director] out of the way. I might push Angela out of the way. (sees that Angela looks confused as to why she's being pushed) I'm only kidding. (beat) It's a status thing."
- Acting Professoressa

"Remember, characters in classical plays think fast."
- Acting Professoressa

(After both Stage Manager and D-Train had trouble tearing gaff tape, and decided to just make the pieces longer)
D-Train: Guess I just have to be smarter than the tape.
Head of Program: Now there's a chore for ya.
D-Train: An impossibility, really.

(to Angela, regarding the line "Now, what's your saint of a mother's address down there? I want to send her a fruitcake.")
"It has to be harder. B****ier. 'I wanna send the b**** a f***in' fruitcake.'"
- Head of Program

(to Angela, regarding the line "Now, what's your saint of a mother's address down there? I want to send her a fruitcake.")
"That's just what you do in times of tragedy. You send fruitcake. Everyone loves fruitcake."
- Head of Program

(the day after Voice Professor attended a rehearsal of The Greeks, she gave us feedback)
Voice Professor: You know, the work was very interesting. I was very interesting in the storytelling.
D-Train: Really?
Voice Professor: I know. I was surprised, too!

"[O.D.] fell into a trap yesterday that is worth mentioning because everyone can fall into it at some point. I call it being seduced by your own voice. 'I love my voice. I love hearing my voice. I lover hearing my voice on the stage.' Don't let that happen. Don't be one of those actors."
- Voice Professor

"It's like this...(uses hand motion to demonstrate voice concept) If my hand can do it, then my voice can do it, right? That's my motto."
- Voice Professor

(to Wifey, regarding use of a prop
"F*** the scarf. It got in the way of the cue. (beat) (aside to Angela) Never took a note like that before, 'f*** the scarf.'"
- Acting Professoressa

"Why are you looking on the bright side of this, [All-The-Way]?"
- 1st-year LB, after a conversation where All-The-Way and D-Train tried to convince 1st-Year LB that it was actually a positive thing that his paper on The Wild Duck is due much earlier than ours was last year and told him to "look on the bright side"

"This is actually a really good time to be boring. You've gotta be boring sometimes. I just wish you wouldn't do it in front of me. And now you're never allowed to be boring again."
- Head of Program, after a boring run of the first act of The Mystery Plays

(in Voice class before The Greeks, Voice Professor decided to dedicate the class time to a luxurious, thorough vocal warm-up.)
"Destructure. (looks at clock and sees that we have tons of time in class, and no other task to get to, and then laughs) Forty minutes to destructure."
- Voice Professor

"Angela, you are a great actress."
- Acting Professoressa

"[Iceman], you need to move it along as The Caretaker. That was a five-act opera. A good one, but a five-act opera."
- Head of Program

(referring to Iceman as The Caretaker)
Head of Program: You were stopping at every clause.
Voice Professor: At every comma.
Head of Program: Even more than every comma. Every clause. It's like they used to say about trains in the thirties, when they made all the stops: 'This train stops at every tree!'
D-Train: Were you alive in the thirties?

"You have to make a lot of deposits into the pause bank before you can make a withdrawl. And right now most of us are overdrawn with our pauses."
- Head of Program

(after D-Train was asked to put on kneepads while we were running a section where he trips and falls)
D-Train: These are going to make me crazy all day.
Head of Program: Well, it'll be a short trip.


Sunday, October 18

I didn't mention this before, but I really want to have a record of it... On Friday, before The Greeks, Acting Professoressa asked us all into the women's dressing room, and knighted us all as "great actors" using a light-up plastic sword. It was one of my favorite moments of grad school thus far. I loved it.

I love this play. Seriously, I do. It's two fascinating stories in one. I'm really excited to perform it.

That said, I am at a challenging place in rehearsal right now, and some days it's pretty frustrating. I feel like I'm not doing anything right. Neither of my characters is where I want her to be yet. And I know I'll grow into them more in the next week, but it's not easy to make it through this stage of the process.

Our Assistant Stage Manager is 1st-year LB, and he's been doing a great job taking line notes for us. Most of mine right now are paraphrasing (saying "alright" instead of "okay", or "don't do this to me again" instead of "never do this to me again"). Through the course of the day, I got 16 line notes (which, especially considering that I don't have a ridiculous number of lines, is way too high). I have a lot of work to do.

Voice Professor came to rehearsal on Saturday and handed me some notes after the run:
- "I know all I am is your agent" - unclear
- "As soon as I come up with something" - this was difficult to understand
- Angela, excellent work! In both pieces.

That last line made me feel better. At least I'm doing SOMETHING right.

We have rehearsal today from 12pm-5pm. And then tomorrow, mercifully, we have a day off. And I think my mind needs it.


Friday, October 16

To say I am proud of my class would be an understatement. I adore my class. I am in awe of my class. And I feel honored to be able to be on stage with these people and work alongside them. They inspire me. I love them.

We had a pretty full house, which was exciting and invigorating. And after weeks of delivering lines to empty seats where the areopagites supposedly sat, we had actual PEOPLE to talk to. It was AMAZING. I think it pushed everyone to the next level in their work. It's incredible just how much it helps to have an audience.

Everyone stepped up their game. It was great to watch, and even better to work with.

And it was such a high! It felt so great to perform (even though technically The Greeks is a "showing" and not a "performance"). I felt good about the work that I did. Of course, I wasn't perfect (like the point when I went into glottal fry while yelling "Kill me -- come on I'm ready -- but leave my son alone!"), but I never will be. Acting is not about perfection; it's about trying to be truthful under any circumstances (including extreme ones, like The Greeks). I think I found some of that truth. And it felt right.

Thank you to everyone out there who came to support us!!!



Thursday, October 15

Oh my goodness. The Greeks? TOMORROW. Crazy. How did that go by so fast?

Voice Professor started off by giving us notes about the run of The Greeks she attended yesterday.

Last time she attended (I think it was two weeks ago?) my notes were:
- Be sure you're not pressing on your larynx to achieve lower pitches. Allow your pitch range to play with freedom
- Yes, allowing your voice to play freely from top, very good
- "months"
(this was a clarity note)
- "we women love that" - vocal drop out
- "slaves" - vz
- "to deal with silly women" - rib squeeze, tight in throat
- yelling is good, but be sure to breathe often enough
- "alive" - v
- beautiful open s & l your voice!
(refers to sending and landing)
- ? "furrow" ?
(this was a clarity note)

And this time? My notes were very positive! Yay improvement!
- good use of voice technique when using volume
- clear precise speech without being over focused on speech - great!
- very good use of ONE VOICE today, incorporating head resonance, forward placement, AND body resonance.

She also said that I had "great screaming and yelling technique", "beautiful use of pitch range", and that it was "dynamic and interesting" and "not limited".

YAY HOORAY! I am so much more confident going into tomorrow's showing as a result. :)

She also gave general notes:
- watch out for glottal attacks
- be loud more selectively
- make sure to speak to people in the audience as individuals (like Caesar talking to one general at a time) when addressing the areopagites. (She said this is a good note for ANY time that you're talking to the audience in a show)

Completely unrelated, I also just found the notes Voice Professor gave me after my Screaming/Yelling exam and can't remember if I typed those up... so here they are:
Chew and Shakes the hum - excellent, forward
Triangle followed by Twinkle Twinkle - excellent, very forward
Head roll with light high forward hum - sound is perfect (release your face)
Screaming on breath, on voice - excellent, good soft released neck, supported, slightly back and down
Yellong on text on breath, on voice - excellent, open, no tension

I actually really like ballet. When we finished class today, my body felt so long. I feel taller. And my arms feel longer. I don't know. It's a neat feeling.

Movement Professor says I keep bending my knees when I shouldn't be, but I still haven't figured out how to feel it.

On the plus side, thanks to my usual kooky flamingo-like stances, I'm really good at holding a passe for a long period of time. It's nice to be good at something.

Oh, and the most fun thing we did today? Jumping. Just up and down, in different ballet positions in our ballet shoes. I don't know why, but it was SO joy-inducing. I seriously could not stop giggling. (Just one more example of me looking like a freak in front of my classmates... it's a good thing they're used to me.)

We teched the show, thanks to Tech Director and Stage Manager. The young actor playing my son came in today, which was really helpful for me.

Acting Professoressa said her biggest note for me was Trust yourself. That seems to be a theme around here for me lately.

Other notes included:
- You can be still.
- Make sure the element of topping is present in fight with Hermione
- "I was famous once" - operative is "famous"; don't hit "once"
- Don't let beat about Neoptolemus get disjointed
- Don't look up when referring to the goddess Thetis. We only look up when calling upon the gods, not when referencing them.
- On "I have sent my little son away and have hidden him, and written to old Peleus", use the lines to reassure the areopagites that everything within your power has been done
- "They warned us that might happen" - this is not a new beat
- "Yet you're just like your mother" - lost vocal energy
- "I am in your power" - hit "power", not "your"
- "I am not going to crawl to you" - keep vocal energy up and be defiant
- When Peleus says "...too old for the gods to bother with me.", don't move until after he's completely done with the line
- Say "Look, this is my son." while looking at son, not at areopagites.
- In Helen, only take one step on "Of course you are."
- In Helen, don't forget to say "aww" when Menelaus says his line about "the image"

We ran Act I, and it didn't go particularly well. Especially not for me, apparently.

The Director (Head of Program) says that everything I'm doing as Amanda needs to be way bigger, because right now it's boring. Due to the style of the first act (think "graphic novel"), we cannot be simple or naturalistic. Everything has to be larger than life, and painted with big brood strokes. He has encouraged me to "take control of Joe, manipulate Joe, know what's best for Joe, do it."

I know I can do it. I look forward to taking another crack at it on Saturday. It's going to be great.

General notes he gave included:
- Look for growth from one scene to the next
- Believe in the size and weight of the stuff you're dealing with
- Be big, outsized characters

A really great piece of advice from Head of Program that we got tonight was about exiting the stage. He said that when exiting, you have to make sure that where you're going is more important than where you are, and what's off-stage is more important than what's on stage. You can never look bored when walking off-stage.


Wednesday, October 14

First off, Big Show told us yesterday that if he ever becomes a billionaire, he's going to give money to everyone in our class. O.D. requested that I post that on the blog as record that it happened, just in case. Although I'm not sure how well something written on a blog will hold up in court, but it's a nice idea. (Everyone pray that Big Show is secretly related to Warren Buffet, okay?)

We talked a bit more about assonance, alliteration, repetition, irony, antithesis, and rhyme.

Voice Professor highly recommended that we read Freeing Shakespeare's Voice by Kristin Linklater.

Code-switching between classes is difficult for me right now. "Antithesis" is completely different for the Shakespeare we're using in Voice class from The Greeks we're doing in Acting class, and it's tripping me (and some of my classmates) up big time. It's really frustrating to think you know something and then to be told that you're doing it wrong, and to have to learn it a new way. But I guess that's what grad school is all about; re-learning things in ways that are going to help me be a better artist.

Voice Professor says that there are both broad and narrow definitions of antithesis, and that it changes depending on with whom you are working.

Our take-home written exam (due next Friday) is to completely score a Portia monologue from The Merchant of Venice. I started working on it at rehearsal tonight.

You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand,
Such as I am. Though for myself alone
I would not be ambitious in my wish
To with myself much better, yet for you
I would be trebled twenty times myself,
A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times more rich,
That only to stand high in your account,
I might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends,
Exceed account. But the full sum of me
Is sum of something -- which, to term in gross,
Is an unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpractised;
Happy in this, she is not yet so old
But she may learn; happier than this,
She is not bred so dull but she can learn;
Happiest of all, is that her gentle spirit
Commits itself to yours to be directed,
As from her lord, her governor, her king.
Myself and what is mine to you and yours
Is now converted. But now I was the lord
Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,
Queen o'er myself; and even now, but now,
This house, these servants, and this same myself
Are yours, my lord's. I give them with this ring,
Which when you part from, lose, or give away,
Let it presage the ruin of your love
And be my vantage to exclaim on you.

Our homework (for Friday, I think she said) is to type up the monologue with space between the verse lines to make scoring easier, look up the words that we don't know, and start trying to do scansion on it.

There are a couple of lines that are tricky scansion-wise. In the line:
"But she may learn; happier than this,"
There are only 9 syllables (and therefore 4.5 feet... which is not allowed).
Normally, short lines indicate that there's a pause after (or before, in some philosophies) the verse line. But since this line occurs mid-sentence, that doesn't make sense. I've actually come across this monologue before, and I know that problem is sometimes solved by stretching out the word "learn" to take up two beats. Therefore, it's my instinct to do that, but this is on a TEST, so I don't want to just guess. I think it also might be possible to put the pause at the semi-colon, as that indicates a shift in thought, but we haven't been instructed that this is allowed. So... yeah. Don't know what I'm going to answer that one with.

The other one that bothers me:
"Is now converted. But now I was the lord"
There are 11 syllables, so it could have a random three-beat foot in the middle, or it might just have a feminine ending, but I really don't think that "the" would be stressed over "lord". My first instinct was:
- / -/-. - / / - - / (iamb, iamb, pyrrhic, spondee, anapest)
But it feels like I shouldn't hit "I"...
Then I tried:
- / -/-. / / - - - / (iamb, iamb, iamb, trochee, anapest)
I chose this due to context. She's saying "Even now, I ruled over this place", so I kinda think that both "but" and "now" can be emphasized. But it just feels wrong.
So my next shot is:
- / -/-. - / -/ -/ (iamb, iamb, anapest, iamb, iamb)

Well, we'll see. I'll just keep trucking.


We did a run of The Greeks, and Movement Professor and Voice Professor were able to attend, and one of the members of the Rep company did as well. It was nice having a few friendly faces in the audience. :)

It actually felt like a good run today. All of the three plays.

One of the things that Acting Professoressa has asked us to focus on is how to get from what she calls "Reality #1" (aka your own life, circumstances, and point-of-view) to "Reality #2" (aka the character's life, circumstances, and point-of-view). She says that figuring out how to make that transition (and what a person needs to do to make the transition easier) is something that every actor has to figure out for themselves.

My notes for today included:
- Linking (specific lines)
- Landing (specific lines)
- Faster blocking cue
- More vocal energy on "Except that we hide it better"
- Don't focus out/up at nothing during monologue (a habit I think I picked up in Mystery Plays rehearsal, where that is actually what I'm supposed to do), but instead stay focused on an areopagite
- On "You must have courage, old man", help him, don't condescend
- On "Now I see I have more power than men", make sure it's a discovery

I had another costume fitting today. It was pretty geek-ify-ing.

In rehearsal, we worked Act I. The director (Head of Program) wants my character Amanda to be pretty intense. It's hard to keep her in this really heightened state without feeling like I'm just playing anger or playing b****iness. I haven't really found my own personal way into it yet. At least, not in the first two scenes. In her third (and final) scene, I feel like you see a really different side of her, and it's a side that I truly understand and connect with.

(1st-year Acting Professor, if you're reading this, know that I don't normally talk about my characters in third person; I just have to on the blog for the sake of clarity.)


Tuesday, October 13

Ah, the joys of scansion.

We discussed:
- punctuation
- enjambment
- scansion
- defining sentences
- parentheticals
- antithesis
- alliteration
- assonance
- consonance
- onomatopoeia
- rhyme
- rhymed couplets

And our homework is to take the Juliet monologue we've been working with and mark:
- scansion
- sentences
- enjambment
- parentheticals
- antithesis
- look up any words of questionable definitions

Today was the "ladies only" class day ("gentlemen only" is tomorrow, so I won't have class). We worked on ballet stuff. We learned 4th and 5th position (I think Movement Professor briefly mentioned 3rd, but I can't remember it for the life of me right now). We learned grande pliés (previously we'd only done demi-pliés). We learned frappés (it turns out that they aren't just drinks at Starbucks). It's all very exciting.

Sometimes, I feel things in my body incorrectly. Movement Professor kept telling me that I was bending my leg during tondues today, but I couldn't feel it at all. Due to the fact that it's entirely unconscious (and apparently I wasn't able to prevent it even when I was consciously working on it and still couldn't feel that it was wrong), I sort of want to say, "I'M not bending my leg, my LEG is bending my leg." It's not like I'm intentionally doing it wrong; I just can't figure out how NOT to do it wrong.

We're coming down to the final stretch of The Greeks. Our one and only performance is on Friday (at 4pm, and it's free... so if you're local, COME!).

My notes from today included:
- I have gotten to a place of more stillness in my monologue, and it's very good
- Make sure to actually have the sensation of feeling hot before grabbing prop fan
- Enjoy combat with Hermione more. It's at least a little bit invigorating.
- During "I am a Trojan woman" speech, get the rush of a Redbull, have power in legs, and be proud of it.
- Land lines
- Don't paraphrase
- In the line "It is in me", use the vowel of the word "in" more.
- Have more ease in the opening
- Don't play point-of-view in the opening

After working the end of Act II, we did a run of it. I thought it went pretty well, considering how few chances we've had to work on it thus far.

The most notable thing about rehearsal happened in the last 5 minutes. We were spoken to about how to be more professional in rehearsals. Embarrassing that it had to happen, but it's always good to have a reminder.


Quotations: Volume 35

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

(Disclaimer: quotations are often taken out of context and may not accurately reflect the way they were originally intended)

"Naughty, but that's how the theatre industry works. Lie, and make friends."
- Ella Hickson

"That sounds great! Come on in. Someone totally unreliable. That's exactly what we need."
- Tom (one of the actors in Eight), paraphrasing how he was hired for a job under ridiculous circumstances because of being an actor

"Put a lot of faith laterally in your own generation."
- Ella Hickson

"If you get enough people to say you're a good writer, then you're a good writer."
- Ella Hickson

Ella Hickson: Spend an unhealthy amount of time on the internet.
(the entire 2nd-year class looks at Angela)
Angela: Oh, I'm all over that one.

"There's no point to you impersonating what they already have two billion of."
- Ella Hickson, on why Americans shouldn't fake British dialects when auditioning in the UK

"[O.D.], your cues are very sluggish. What do I have to do? Should I bring in my cattle prod? I'll bring in my cattle prod. I save it for special cases."
- Acting Professoressa

"You are trying to raise the wretched child's confidence. You're bringing her up the evolutionary ladder a rung or two."
- Acting Professoressa, to Angela regarding Andromache's relationship with Hermione

"She doesn't know how to behave. She needs to go back to human school."
- Acting Professoressa, to Angela regarding Andromache's relationship with Hermione

"You are an intractable 'don't' 'not' jumper... onto."
- Acting Professoressa, to Angela

"The phrase is friend of mine. It is not friend of mine. Not 'your' friend as opposed to other people. Like Jimmy Carter's friend."
- Acting Professoressa

"I am [Acting Professoressa]. I am not Lucy Bananas who works down at Carr's making sandwiches."
- Acting Professoresa, demonstrating to O.D. how Peleus needed to be more declarative with his status

"When you're in grad school that's the first thing to go, is perspective."
- Acting Professoressa

"[Newbie], it's better, but there are some places where you're bleeding bitch. That's my phrase for when you're too knowing."
- Acting Professoressa

"I love sheep. They're so cute, but they smell funny. Have you ever smelled a sheep?"
- Two-Shots-Up

(when talking about decidedly non-school things at the top of class, someone mentioned not knowing what our schedule was for the week as a result of the Ringling International Arts Festival)
"I'd like to talk about this. Okay. There is class today. Despite what is happening right now."
- Voice Professor

(after a maintenance guy brought in a ladder to the Voice studio, saying he intended to remove the blue gels currently covering the fluorescent light that we can't turn off)
D-Train: I think we should burn his ladder.
Voice Professor: That's a hard thing to burn.
D-Train: Well, it has to disappear.

"I'm not quite sure that we needed more s*** in this room, either."
- Iceman, on the ladder that the maintenance guy had left adding to the clutter in the Voice studio from rehearsals of The Greeks and Mystery Plays

"I love what you've done with the piano, by the way. It just keeps getting better and better."
- Voice Professor, on how the piano in the Voice studio is currently covered with weird props from The Greeks

D-Train: I'm glad we didn't do scansion today. (beat) F*** scansion. (beat) That's a dactyl.
Voice Professor: (laughs) Yes, it is.

"There's a teacher in you. There's a tormentor in you. There's an imaginative sadist in you. [...] You have to be able to make a connection with, shall we say, your dark side in addition to your light side. And if someone comes up to me and says, 'I'm sorry, Ms. [Acting Professoressa], but I couldn't possibly imagine killing my mother,' then I'm sorry, but you can't be a classical actor."
- Acting Professoressa

"'I am a murderer.' It's a discovery. It's, 'Oh my God... I'm an Episcopalian.'"
- Acting Professoressa, explaining that one of Orestes' lines cannot be a statement even though it's a fact, because he's just now coming to terms with it

"See, yes, this is the problem I've been having. What level of gayness are we talking? Blow torch? Flame-thrower? Napalm? Just how flaming am I?"
- Big Show, on one of his characters in The Mystery Plays

"Delicious mountain air doesn't attack you; it hugs you."
- Director JW, to Newbie during Mystery Plays rehearsal

"You've got a pad and paper, good good, and you've got a tripod, and you've got a memory. We're all set up."
- Director JW, during Mystery Plays rehearsal

"When you gays were doing it, like, not gay at all, I was like, 'It's gayer!'"
- Newbie, about a scene in Mystery Plays between D-Train and Big Show

"Assume that everyone in the audience is a gay man. 'Oh! Men's Health! We know what that means, don't we.'"
- Head of Program, to D-Train during Mystery Plays rehearsal

"You straight boys have this problem: you think that smiling at people makes you look gay. It doesn't."
- Head of Program, to D-Train and Big Show during Mystery Plays rehearsal

"When I get sent to jail for murder, I gotsta take up visual art. It's either that, or take up bodybuilding and white supremacy, and I hate working out."
- Director JW, making a joke during Mystery Plays rehearsal


"We have so many jokes. So many stupid jokes. And new ones every day. I would say, as a rule, if you don't have new stupid jokes every day, maybe you've gotta change up something."
- Mike from Elevator Repair Service, on how to survive as an ensemble

"Whoever refuses to go away."
- Kate, on who becomes a part of Elevator Repair Service


Thursday, October 8

All classes were canceled today, as were rehearsals. Why?

The Ringling International Arts Festival


I saw six plays today. Four of them were written by students. One was Peter Brook/C.I.T.C.'s Love Is My Sin (which is a show with two actors and one musician, which is comprised entirely of text from Shakespeare's sonnets). And the last was the workshop premiere of Elevator Repair Service's The Sun Also Rises (Part I).

After the show, ERS came and talked to my schoolmates a bit about their process as a company. The thing I think I loved most about them was that they seem to have a lot of fun with creating their art. When Iceman asked what advice they had for working as an ensemble (as my class has to do so much this year), one of them said: "We have so many jokes. So many stupid jokes. And new ones every day. I would say, as a rule, if you don't have new stupid jokes every day, maybe you've gotta change up something."

When asked how they became part of the group, it sounded like most of them did through happenstance (one guy was cast because he looked like another guy who was leaving; one guy did sound for them before being cast; one gal was cast in the role of a receptionist because she had been working in their office as a receptionist... and they've all been doing work with ERS ever since), one of them said, "whoever refuses to go away." I think that's a great way of looking at being in the arts. The people who refuse to go away, who will never throw in the towel, those are the ones who get the work. :)


Wednesday, October 7

We had a luxurious warm-up today in Voice class, which we hadn't done for about a week (because we've been focusing on sharpening our mental skills for scansion as opposed to physical skills).

I finally got a chance to do contact improv with Two-Shots-Up, who was the only person remaining in my class whom I had not yet been partnered with for it. It was really fun.

I got far fewer notes today for Andromache today than I've been getting. Acting Professoressa said that my "linking" was greatly improved and the pace was a lot better as a result. I am now running the script, as opposed to it running me. Here were my notes:

- On the line "What do you think it's like?", draw in the areopagites. It's a tactic.
- On the line "I am merely pleasant", do not taunt Hermione.
- On the line "Yes, feed them at my breast", land the word "breast"
- During argument with Hermione, find more variety in tactics.
- In the "Why should I thank the gods?" monologue, don't do "flipper-action" with hands.
- On the line "Men damage us", don't overdo it with aggression.
- On the line "Out of me will be born men of blood and bone", don't shift weight.

We blocked the end of the second act! Woo-hoo! Preliminary blocking is over. Now we get to hurry up and learn our lines, because the show opens in two weeks. Fun times.


Tuesday, October 6

In lieu of Voice and Movement today, we had a workshop. It was a discussion with Ella Hickson (the playwright/director of Eight, which some of my classmates will be performing in as part of the Ringling International Arts Festival this week). Ella is 24, as I am, which makes me feel wholly unaccomplished next to her. She also had some of her cast members who traveled from the UK with her be part of her panel as well.

Some key notes I took down:
- Ella has never cast anyone that she hadn't already met, seen perform, or heard about from a friend/colleague.
- She recommends keeping an eye out for people who are not going into acting/theatre professionally, but who are good "social secretaries" (the kinds of people who like to look good, throw parties, and invite people to things), because they're going to help you make excellent connections (and they might make great producers in the future).
- Try to control your Google hits. If you can get a lot of positive reviews of yourself online, it's going to help you. (The first thing she does after auditioning people is go back home and Google them.)
- Ella's key to the way the industry works: "Lie, and make friends."
- Be proactive. Write letters to every agent around saying, "Come and see me in this show I'm doing." Even if they don't come, they won't think any less of you, and it might impress upon them how badly you want a chance.
- Go to every show you can.
- Sell yourself. You are your own business.
- Don't go meet a big wig of some theatre if you have never seen a show at that theatre.

The cast also advised us of what companies and theatres we should look at while we're studying abroad in London in May (oh my God, I'm going to be in London in May!!!). They said that while we're there, we should try to attend workshops, and that we shouldn't rule out the possibility of auditioning (or even making our own work). They also said not to do a British dialect if we do audition there (as Ella put it, "There's no point to you impersonating what they already have two billion of").

We ran the three shows and then got notes. Acting Professoressa says that The Greeks are a crash course in technique, and that we should expect a lot of notes on details. The details are what make us pros, and they make a huge difference.

I'm really proud of the fact that I DIDN'T get notes on some of the things I usually get notes on (things like "playing the problem" or not being likable enough). But I still got a heaping share of them.

- Be unable to say "Troy" without bursting with pride.
- Link everything within each beat.
- Play the need; play the beats. At each new beat, plug back into need.
- Stop paraphrasing.
- At the line, "I am merely pleasant", be pleasant.
- THERE IS NO ROOM FOR PAUSING WHEN TRYING TO SAVE SON'S LIFE! (Acting Professoressa said that it's even stronger than just regular linking.)
- Stop hitting the words "not" and "don't" (a huge habit of mine, apparently).
- And then a couple of specific notes in which I made the wrong word in the sentence operative.

And the hardest note? As Andromache, I say goodbye to my son, telling him that I'm going to die so that he can live. Acting Professoressa wants me to spend some time trying to really understand the concept of loss, particularly loss regarding someone/something that I'm responsible for. She asked if I'd ever had a pet die, but I really haven't (unless you count a goldfish when I was 4...).

I also got a note in Helen today. Apparently I did a "funny walk", and I shouldn't. (I honestly don't even remember doing it... so I guess I just have to be conscious of where my body is in space.)

We got further with blocking the 2nd Act/play, Ghost Children, and then we reviewed everything we've blocked so far.


Quotations: Volume 34

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

(Disclaimer: quotations are often taken out of context and may not accurately reflect the way they were originally intended)

(during a practical exam in Voice class)
Voice Professor: (to D-Train) Head roll with light high forward hum.
D-train: I hate this one.
Voice Professor: It's not about liking it, you know that by now. (with cartoony dialect of some sort) It's good fo' yah! It's castah oil!

(after D-Train performed the head roll with light high forward hum)
Voice Professor: See, but it was well-executed.
D-Train: But?
Voice Professor: Even though you don't like it. It was well-executed.
D-Train: Oh. I thought you were going to say it's well-executed but it sounds like s***.

(as Voice Professor was writing notes on our exams with a furrowed brow)
Angela: (imitating professor-talk) Release your brow...
Voice Professor: (continuing Angela's thought)...slash the third eye. (smiles) I'm so in my head.

(after watching Two-Shots-Up and Thrill do contact improv together)
"That was really beautiful, the way you moved together, it was like watching someone paint with watercolors, or honey dripping, or a spider weaving a web. It was just gorgeous. I wish you guys were my screensaver."
- O.D., giving perhaps the greatest movement compliment I've ever heard

"We had sort of a hillbilly, Southern, trailer-park variety of dialects."
- Voice Professor, on the first table-read of Ghost Children, which is the second play in The Mystery Plays

"It begins to sound old-timey, like a stage manager from Our Town. (in old-timey hillbilly dialect) 'Here in our town, we beat our father's heads in.'"
- Voice Professor, on the dialects people had used in the table-read of Ghost Children

(to D-Train, after the first table-read of Ghost Children)
Head of Program: In terms of Gary, we probably need to make him a little less...
Voice Professor: (supplying adjective) Inbred?

"It needs to be a little less 'Where are those ghosts? I'm gonna get those f***ers!"
- Head of Program, to D-Train after his first table-read as Gary, a character who talks about how his house is haunted

"Miss Sissypants, my favorite ghost, is the teddy-bear in the corner."
- Head of Program, making a joke about another direction in which D-Train SHOULD NOT take the character of Gary

"First of all, I'm suspect of so many exclamation points, so I would go back and check the First Folio."
- Voice Professor, on the strange punctuation in one publisher's version of a Shakespeare text

Iceman: (to Voice Professor) I didn't go with the trochee in the first foot. I know that's what you said, but...
Voice Professor: Don't go against me, [Iceman].

"I'll never do that again, [Voice Professor]."
- Iceman, after Voice Professor convinced him of her scansion

(when discussing a short line of text -- that had only 4 feet/8 syllables instead of the usual 5 feet/10 syllables, and how the last two beats had to stay in as a pause allowing action to occur)
Voice Professor: What do you think happens in the last two beats?
(random shouts from the class included: "A kiss?", "They faint!", "Heavy breathing.", "They die!", and "Sex?!")
Voice Professor: Sex? Two beats of sex?! I feel so bad for you!

(after complimenting Big Show on something related to his ballet skill-set)
Movement Professor: I'm sorry, but men who can dance? They're very sexy.
Thrill: (to Big Show) Must be nice, [Big Show].
Big Show: What?
Thrill: To be fifty and sexy.

"Some of it's really not fun, but so are a lot of other things we've done that have made a big difference."
- Movement Professor, on our upcoming Ballet unit

(during rehearsing some strange blocking in Helen in which Wifey was on the floor and we were all trying not to trip over her or kick her)
Acting Professoressa: [Wifey], you appear to be an obstacle.
Wifey: I am.
Acting Professoressa: Don't take it personally.

(when Acting Professoressa told Iceman to go further with something in Helen)
Iceman: I'm worried it's gonna be too much.
Acting Professoressa: Don't worry. My bulls*** meter is working well. I'll tell you.

"I know what needs to be done. I'm just freaking out because I have to walk and talk. That's it."
- D-Train, during blocking rehearsal for The Mystery Plays

"It would be alright if this was organized, but right now it's all free-friggin'-form."
- Voice Professor, on how the props from The Mystery Plays rehearsals have taken over our studio

(on a break from rehearsal of The Mystery Plays, in which O.D.'s character has to ride a bike in circles for an entire scene)
O.D.: Uh, [Head of Program]? I don't actually know how to ride a bike.
Head of Program: Oh, I KNEW this was going to happen!
(NOTE: O.D. has spent the last week learning how to ride, and he's really improving.)

(as Voice Professor was writing some Shakespeare text on the chalkboard, and wrote "yeiding")
All-the-Way: "Yielding" has an '"L".
Angela: It's also "i-e".
Voice Professor: I know, crappy spelling. Hey, don't push me or I'll write this all in IPA.

"There is nothing sexier than a man in tights."
- Movement Professor

(when we were discussing a combat scene in Electra that might include stage blood)
Acting Professoressa: Have we made any progress on the blood?
D-Train: I thought [Big Show] was making blood.
Acting Professoressa: [Big Show] is making blood. Why am I not surprised?

Acting Professoressa:(to Big Show) Do you make blood often?
Big Show: Oh, yeah. It's easy. I'll tell you what you do. You take a small animal, any small animal will do, and then you take a big knife...
Acting Professoressa: [Big Show], I know I'm your straight man, but I would like to start rehearsal.

"I would like..., I mean, I don't want to get all 'method' on you or anything, but I would like to have wet blood on me."
- D-Train, on getting into character as Orestes

"You have to go down to the areopagites there, and you can't do it if you're going, 'The chimaera... huh huh... she was on Letterman."
- Acting Professoressa, to O.D., regarding a story where he explains the chimaera on his armor in Andromache

"We're from the same neighborhood. We're alike. Maybe you'd like to f*** me."
- Acting Professoressa, paraphrasing Thrill's lines as Menelaus to me as Andromache where he might be using the worst pick up line ever

Acting Professoressa: You scared me at the beginning, [Killer], because your hands were going wacky today.
Killer: I know. I was a crack addict today.

(near the beginning of rehearsal for The Mystery Plays)
Head of Program: Sorry, I got distracted there. It looks so nice outside. It looks like it's gonna be a nice twilight. Let's skip rehearsal and go outisde.
Big Show: You got it, boss.
Head of Program: What I was saying was, God, I completely forgot my train of thought. My mind is totally f***ed. [Big Show]? Would you do me a favor?
Big Show: Yes?
Head of Program: I brought in a bag of coffee. Would you go into the lounge and make a pot? I'm gonna need it.


Friday, October 2

Something interesting I learned: Shakespeare wrote in a dialect. And the dialect he was writing in (and spoke himself) was probably closer to a Southern American dialect than it is to RP (standard British). (Voice Professor said that Jane Lapotaire wrote about this.) In fact, it's closer to most American dialects than it is to RP. So anytime that you've seen Shakespeare plays where American actors were conjuring British accents? Yeah, that's really not necessary. In fact, it's more likely to screw people up than to help them nail flow of the language.

We're going to be working with a Juliet monologue (from Romeo and Juliet, if that wasn't obvious) to work on our scansion whatnot. We started by looking at the metrical feet of the poem and figuring out what was iambic ("unstressed-stressed", like the word "because") and what was trochaic ("stressed-unstressed", like the word "mother"). We also found some examples of spondee ("stressed-stressed") and pyrrhic ("unstressed-unstressed") which are often found together (i.e. "that was SO FUN!"). There are also feet with three syllables, like anapest ("unstressed-unstressed-stressed"... my instinct is to use "limousine" as an example, but I guess that could be said with the first syllable stressed too... so you'll just have to guess on this one) and dactyl ("stressed-unstressed-unstressed", as in "Angela").

Voice Professor also explained a concept that she has code-named "red houses", which is when two words next to each other form a concept in a way that both words need to be stressed. So in the monologue we're working on, examples include "dark night" and "light love". So those word phrases are spondees, and usually some words before or after them are pyrrhic.

Movement Professor started having us do contact improv in groups of threes and fours. It was interesting, but I think most of us were too tired to be able to do what we wanted to with it.

Next week, we're going to be starting our 6-week ballet unit. I'm looking forward to it.

We ran all three of the excerpts of plays we're doing for The Greeks.

I obviously wrote down more notes for Andromache than the other two, since more notes were directed specifically at me. I had tried really hard to follow my impulses during the run and live in the state of "I am" with Andromache. And as a result, I got more notes than I have ever gotten before. They included:

- Don't stress too many words in the same line.
- Don't let your "need" get too casual.
- Don't forget to use prop fan to fan self.
- Don't say lines as monosyllabic (meaning all words stressed) unless you have a good reason.
- Don't play the futility of the situation.
- Invest more in the proposition of having the areopagites imagining themselves in your shoes.
- Play more with the vowels of words.
- Don't make faces on words like "pointless" and "evil".
- Link lines together. (I got this note on many specific lines.)
- Don't fall off vocal energy.
- Land lines (which means not only "sending and landing" as it did in Voice class last year, but also involves not letting them have a downward inflection pitch-wise... And I got this note on many specific lines.).
- Keep talking through while fighting to escape.
- Stop putting stress on words like "must", "not", and "don't".
- Pick up cue for final monologue faster (i.e. find a quicker impulse)
- In the phrase "who are our masters", be careful not to emphasize "our" because of trying to distinguish the vowel from "are".
- In the last monologue, highlight the words "happens" and "happened" with verbal quotation marks.

Despite all the notes, I think I made progress. There were a few lines that finally came out of me in a way that was natural and useful (even if getting there did involve not linking or landing for this rehearsal). So that's good. It's just incorporating everything that makes it difficult.

Another day, another rehearsal. We were all pretty tired (as is to be expected when you're rehearsing until 11pm on a Friday after having classes and rehearsals all week). But we're moving along. Head of Program said his goal was to have the whole play blocked by the end of rehearsal on Sunday.


Thursday, October 1

Highlight of my day? I made up some example sentences for the 1st-years' voice class. Earlier in the week, I wrote one for "g-l" endings:

"I giggle as I Google a gaggle of geese wearing goggles."

Tonight, I made up sentences with "t-l" and "d-l" endings.

- "I put on the kettle, and ladle a puddle of pancake mix onto the griddle."
- "A little kid'll waddle and toddle to get a rattle."
- "On American Idol, Paula would coddle, Randy was subtle, Kara would riddle, and Simon would battle."
- "They huddle like cattle as they meddle and tattle."
- "After my car was idle in the middle of Tuttle, I put the pedal to the metal."

Fun, fun.

Voice Professor said today that we should buy highlighters and colored pencils because of how much we're going to have to mark on our texts during out upcoming scansion work.

Voice Professor prefers that with short lines in Shakespeare (aka lines that are in prose but have fewer than 5 feet) that we take the pause (of equal length to the missing syllables) AFTER the line. (Voice Professor calls this pause "howl at the wind" time, meaning that you're not JUST pausing, but also using that time for non-verbals)

In Voice class, when we come across an Ecphonesis "O", Voice Professor wants us to pronounce it as "O" (as opposed to Acting Professoressa who says we just need some sort of vocalized exclamation).

We did some leg stretches to prepare us for ballet using the bars. Movement Professor says that I have "ideal turnout", meaning that my toes can go out to opposite sides naturally and my legs have a lot of rotation. So that's good...

But as a result, I have to be really careful not to let my feet "sickle" when I'm trying to point them. Unfortunately, I'm still kind of confused about what "sickle" means. Movement Professor said that it has to do with keeping the line of from the hip socket to the foot, but that's not a concept that's easy for me to grasp. D-Train tried to simplify it for me by saying that I was over-curving my foot in the point, and after that, it seemed I was doing it right. But then Movement Professor said I had to make sure not to sickle when my feet were flexed, and then I got really confused.

We did more contact improv without mats. I was partnered with All-the-Way for the first time ever, which was fun. Both of us are used to being lifted more often than being lifters, so we had a couple of comedic off-balance moments. It was pretty entertaining. The only person left in class that I haven't been paired with is Two-Shots-Up, so I hope I get a chance to do so tomorrow (as tomorrow is our last day of contact improv -- *tear* -- before moving onto a 6 weeks of ballet).

I forgot to mention something that happened yesterday, so I'll mention it now. The boys were excused from class 30 minutes early so that the girls could have instruction on how to walk in high heels on stage. So entertaining. I'm wearing high-heel boots for one of my characters in The Mystery Plays, so I wore those. Movement Professor showed us a "Country Club" walk, a "Runway" walk, a "Power" walk, and a "41" walk (which is our code for how to walk like loose women). It was a ton of fun, and good bonding time for the five Ladies of '11.

We ran Helen a few times, and it's going well, I think. Acting Professoressa said, "The chorus is doing so well, and it's such a big help in this play." I wrote it down because I'm in the chorus. ;)

We blocked some more of the first act. I show up in a couple of random "move on props" or "walk across stage" kinds of ways. Then we blocked my first scene as Amanda the Agent. I get rolled out sitting on a desk, which is way more fun for me than a 24-year-old should admit to. I may or may not have squealed "wheeeee!" while doing it.

The Director (Head of Program) says his goal is to get the entire play blocked by the end of rehearsal on Sunday. *fingers crossed*