Saturday, January 30

Today was the last day of the Roy Hart workshop. Totally sad. Carol (the instructor for the 2nd-Years) has been awesome, and we'll miss her. The 1st-Years really loved Saul (their instructor). I wish they could stay awhile longer.

With Carol, we did an exercise with creating random sounds that then evolved into our class standing in a circle and trying to "contribute" to the group sounds. It was freeing and somehow poignant. It made me feel like a part of something larger than myself, which is, I suppose, how one should always want to feel in an ensemble. I liked it. Someone suggested that we should do it as a warm-up before Machinal rehearsals. I hope we do.

We worked on finding different tones in our voices, reciting elongated words. We started with the words "cello", "viola" and "violin" (Iceman had a particularly great example of a voice that has three very different qualities that can be reached on the same pitch). Then we moved on to names. I don't REALLY know how to explain, them, but I'll try.

Maurice: deep, round, full quality
Delilah: soft, open, pretty voice (like I've used in choirs)
Antonio: big brassy belt
Violetta: shallow, nasal, sort of pinched

In my head this week, I started amassing a list of things that my classmates and I have sounded like during our vocal exploration work:

- Steve Urkel from Family Matters
- evil Elmo
- a teapot
- the disposal in a kitchen sink
- Carol Channing
- a motorcycle
- gargling
- a broken blender
- a dying forest creature
- Fran Drescher
- evil witches

It has obviously been a fun week.

Saul and Carol got the 1st and 2nd years together to tell us a little bit about the origin of the Roy Hart Theatre. I won't type it all up now, but they have two websites that you can visit for more information:

- The Roy Hart Theatre Archives
- The Roy Hart Theatre

Then Saul taught us all a song from Ghana, which we sang in a round. Great fun. :)

I barely had rehearsal today. Rehearsal was going from 1-5pm, and then 7-11pm. But me? I was only called for the first 30 minutes for group warm-up time. Warm-ups went alright today. No complaints.


Friday, January 29

We came in today with a few lines of memorized text in order to play a version of "God/Creature". This time, the "master/god" was doing movement stuff. The "creature/slave" had to mimic the movements, and let their voice follow the movement. We'd played something similar in Movement class before, and we generally have fun doing it. I was partnered with Killer, which is always nice. We're a good pairing for movement whatnot (although, technically, I guess this qualifies as "voice whatnot", but still).

We went low AND high today, which was fun. We went up to high notes saying "Eat the apple, my dear" in an evil witch voice, followed by evil laughter.

I hit a C3 (the C an octave below middle C) and a D6 (a "high D"), and All-The-Way pointed out that I have a 4-octave range. Really cool. Now, mind you, When I hit the notes at either end of my range, they are not pretty notes. It's like gargling on one end and shrieking on the other. I can really only *sing* from like the F3 (the F below middle C) to somewhere around A6 ("high A"). But it's still neat.

The Film Workshop is this weekend, but my class is unfortunately mostly unable to participate, due to Machinal rehearsal conflicts. Today, O.D. and I attended the first part of the workshop with all the 1st-Year students.

We talked for awhile with the film professor about the differences between film acting and theatre acting. She says she thinks that on film, actors are responsible for less of the story. In some ways, this is a luxury. We talked about the difference between depth and breadth in acting.

We did an exercise in which we had to come up with a story from our own lives to tell to a partner on camera, and we had to come up with a backstory and a reason to tell our stories (Acting Professoressa would've approved: basically, we were creating a "Need").

I was paired with 1st-Year JMM. We were filmed sitting next to each other on cubes. He told me his story, and my job was just to listen and react. After his story, film professor said that she thought we were looking at each other too much and weren't open enough. We tried to come up with a reason to look outward more, so I suggested that maybe we were seated on a bus bench. Then I told my story, and 1st-Year JMM listened and reacted. The second time, we didn't look at each other enough, and it seemed alienating.

Also, I told my story with a lot of energy and movement (which is how I tell stories in real life), and it doesn't look right on film. Good to know that I have to tone myself down for film realism (in other words, "real" things don't look real... so I have to become a "reel" version of "real"... or something like that).

It was cool, and I learned from it. I wish we could do more of the workshop. Oh well.

Tonight was the first night where we worked on a scene I was in! So exciting.

It was the hospital scene, in which I play the nurse. The Director had already given me some homework:

1. Get together with Big Show to discuss the relationship between the nurse (me) and the doctor (him).
2. Look into New York and New Jersey dialects for the nurse.
3. Be "officious". (I had to look it up, so I figured I'd give you a link to the definition.)

Luckily, we've been working on a general New York dialect in Voice class, so I was already familiar with the direction to make my shifts. There are a couple of words that I guessed on (the vowels in "swallow" and "solids"), and a few I made some choices on (making "getting along" into "getting g-along", "brought you" into "broughtcha", "what your" into "whatcha", "different" into "diff'ren'" etc.). Voice Professor attended the rehearsal, and she said all my shifts sounded fine to her.

Our Director really made me feel like my character was important and worth delving into, which I greatly appreciated, as she's only in one scene and could be easily ignored. We just sat in chairs and read the scene. We talked about the point-of-view from each character onto each other one, their backgrounds, their prior relationships, their actions... It was awesome. It made me feel like I'm fully armed to go into the scene now, whereas I don't think I really was before (although I was trying). I'm confident.

And the best thing is, I feel like after that rehearsal, I'm looking at the entire play with new eyes. This is not the play I thought it was when I came into rehearsals. I liked the story that I'd been telling in my head, but I think I like this one even better.

I'm really excited about this show. If rehearsals keep going the way they did tonight, it's going to be a "Can't Miss" kind of show. :)


Thursday, January 28

We played a game using gibberish that was really quite awesome. We sort of turned into a tribal society... and then I think Thrill became a child... D-Train, Big Show, and Iceman were sort of a gang terrorizing him... Then we ended up playing duck-duck-goose (still in gibberish), then got in a fight again, and finally ended up singing a gibberish version of "Happy Birthday" to Thrill. It was totally weird. But fun.

We explored the girls high ranges today. And every girl in my class hit a C6 (also known as "high C" or "the note that you have to hit to play the lead in Phantom of the Opera). It was super impressive. I think I actually hit a couple of notes beyond it... They sounded more like screeching than singing, but I think that's the goal of this workshop: to explore parts of your voice that you don't usually access, and try to expand your range.

Our ensemble exercises didn't go quite as well as they did last night... Unfortunately...

It seems to me that the problems that we have had in ensemble exercises generally has little to do with how well we work as an ensemble. Most of the troubles we have arise from things like:
- not everyone is a stellar speller
- not everyone has a perfect memory
- not everyone has a great sense of rhythm

...things like that.

Oh well. We'll keep working, and we'll get better. We always do.


Wednesday, January 27

3rd-Year NP joined our class today, giving us an even number for a change.

We played an EPIC game of "God/Creature" (a game where one person makes noises and "controls" what the other person does in movement). Two pairs went at the same time, and then the creatures began to interact (but only as their masters allowed them to through vocal cues). It was a ton of fun. All-The-Way was my master, and I got to do movement to interact with Iceman. I loved it. I also loved watching the groups after us give it a go. It was creative and free; two things my class does well.

At the piano, the men explored their "feminine registers", which was pretty sweet. I had no idea that Killer or O.D. have as high of ranges as they do (actually, I think even THEY were surprised by it).

The only thing I need to say about rehearsal tonight:

We played the chair game again, where we had to spell out a 4-letter noun, one letter at a time, without communicating what the letters or word would be. It's a game we once struggled with, but tonight it came relatively easily to us. And the word we spelled?




Tuesday, January 26

We're off from regular classes for awhile in exchange for workshops. :)

For the week, two instructors from the Roy Hart Theatre in France are visiting to work with the 1st and 2nd year students. (Find out more here and here.)

The workshop seems to be about vocal exploration, and finding out what crazy things our voices can do. Some of the exercises are things that are already part of our classwork, and some are completely different. We were bears. We explored the space with sounds. We used a piano to match pitch while saying things like "Mamma Mia Pizzeria Lasagna", "I love chocolat" and "dark soul". It was really fun.

Our first rehearsal for Machinal went well, I think. We started with a read-through, and then talked about the director's ideas for the production. It's going to take place in present day, but with an atmosphere of "the world is ending in three days". Instead of making the main character a victim or a villain, we're going to present it without judgment. I'm pretty excited about it.

In the second half of the rehearsal, we did some ensemble-building exercises, some of which we had done at our initial callbacks/workshop with the director. We have to do everything in unison (such as sitting down as one, standing up as one, picking up chairs as one, etc.), which we're getting better at.

We did a lot better at one game than we had the last time we played it, which involved having to use our chairs to spell out a four-letter noun, one letter at a time, without any communication about what the word was going to be. In the workshop, it took a really long time to spell out "PLOT" (and it was quite frustrating). But in this rehearsal, we spelled out "POOL" without nearly as much difficulty. A good sign, I think. The director commented that he notices a lot of growth in our group since he saw us in September. I hope we can continue that road of progress.


Quotations: Volume 47

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)

"That was bad. Let me try that again. Let's not pretend; that was terrible."
- Big Show, during a Roy Hart exercise

"Skinny dipping is encouraged. No one wears bathing suits. I didn't."
- Voice Professor, on visiting the Roy Hart chateau in France

"For example, [Thrill]'s... well, I don't want to say anything that's a secret, but you're not Caucasian."
- Voice Professor, talking about how different dialects are going to be more beneficial to some people than others, based on their types

"You can pretty much go by what sounds retarded."
- Voice Professor, on how to hear if something in the New York dialect is right or not

"Guys, this is not a really difficult dialect, so don't despair now, or we'll never make it through Irish."
- Voice Professor

"I think you have to squeeze his balls. I mean, he's not getting it, is he? Extreme times call for extreme measures."
- Acting Professoressa, to Wifey, on how her Sensual Doing Verb (non-literal) should be "to squeeze"

"Okay, next time, squeeze his balls, but this time, he likes it."
- Acting Professoressa, trying to give Wifey a bigger obstacle in her monologue

"When you do, that it confuses us. It confuses [Acting Professoressa]. [Acting Professoressa] is old."
- Acting Professoressa

"It's rhetorical. It's the difference between, 'How can I go to class with a pot of spaghetti on my head.' versus, "How can I go to class with a pot of spaghetti on my head?"
- Acting Professoressa

(on All-The-Way's focus in her monologue, where she uses the audience as a scene partner, but then spends part of the speech talking to a photograph)
All-The-Way: This is a hard piece to involve a partner.
Acting Professoressa: Yeah. We didn't talk about this, but a prop could be a partner.
All-The-Way: Oh, I have many partners.
Wifey: Ooh, don't go sayin' that.

(on Iceman & Newbie's scene from Measure for Measure)
Acting Professoressa: She has to get the answers right so she won't get attacked.
All-The-Way: That's the worst game show ever.
Acting Professoressa: What is?
O.D.: "Don't Get Raped".
Acting Professoressa: But who's the host?

"Keeping your character off-balance; that's when interesting things happen."
- Acting Professoressa

(during a New York dialect exercise)
D-Train: I feel like a tool.
Angela: That's how you know you're doing it right.
Voice Professor: Okay, [Big Show]'s next. [Big Show], be a tool.
Big Show: I already am.

(Angela had a headache and was wearing sunglasses in class. She became a character in her New York dialect exercises, but kept saying things correctly.)
Voice Professor: Obviously, the glasses are the dialect. So I think you all know what to bring for tomorrow.
Angela: (with a New York dialect) I came in with my Starbucks, too, so obviously that helped.

"I'm still talkin' outta my uterus."
- All-The-Way, after noticing that her voice drops low when we attempts a New York dialect


Friday, January 22

Acting Professoressa flew out last night to start recruitment, so we don't have Acting class for a couple of weeks now. In the meanwhile, we're expected to work on our Shakespeare scenes on our own.

I turned in my New York dialect cheat sheet. I hope I did everything correctly.

We got some scenes to work on with the dialect over the next 3 weeks while we're in workshops and won't have Voice class. The scenes are all from Play It Again, Sam. Our partners are:

- Killer & Wifey
- O.D. & All-The-Way
- Iceman & Two-Shots-Up
- D-Train & Newbie
- Big Show, Thrill, & Angela

Our homework is to transcribe our scenes for 02/18 (which will be our next Voice class... man, that seems so far away). We're also supposed to listen to the New York dialect clips on the IDEA Site.

We started with lifting weights. Movement Professor gave us three exercises that she wants us to work on during the next couple of weeks while we don't have Movement. (Man, it's going to be weird not having ANY of our regular classes.)

We did a barre, and Movement Professor remarked on our progress. She says that we've come further than she thought we would, and she's impressed. She says that some of the people in our class could get professional dance work. She thinks that of any class she's taught, at this school or the others she's taught at, our class has done the best with ballet. :)

She talked to us about how to handle mistakes that we might make, and how we shouldn't acknowledge them to the audience. She also spoke about how people don't remember the entire dance or the entire play; they remember moments.

Four of the six partnering pairs got to show their work, and the other two will go after break. Everything looked really cool, despite the fact that they were blocked REALLY QUICKLY. It was neat to see what our classmates had been working on without us. :)

Movement Professor said that each pairing was inspired by something different. One pair is mostly ballet, one is a modern duet, one is very Astaire-Rogers... My duet with Killer is apparently Merce Cunningham inspired (our professor was in Merce Cunningham's company when she was very young).

Tonight was the Rep's opening night of Hearts. If I remember correctly, the cast has 9 people in it, and 5 of them are 3rd-years in the Conservatory! They did a great job. :) It's a very moving piece about a man who fought in World War II. The audience LOVED it! We think it's going to be a huge hit.


Thursday, January 21

I didn't have Movement today, because Movement Professor was just working with partner pairs.

I came into Voice class today with sunglasses on because I had a headache. I think it may have actually helped with my New York dialect work. :)

We're having a lot more fun with this dialect than the last one.

Our cheat sheets are due tomorrow.

Big Show and I did table-work on our Richard III scene. He's playing Richard, and I'm Elizabeth. It's a great scene, but it's going to be challenging.

Acting Professoressa asked what we thought the challenges in the scene were going to be. The biggest challenge for me will be not using sarcasm at all. Acting Professoressa wants me to try coming at things in the scene with naïveté, so I'm going to try my best to work on that while she's off recruiting.

Tonight was the Rep's opening of The Last 5 Years. It has been my favorite musical for about 8 years now, but I'd never actually seen it on stage. I fell in love with the cast recording, and have always wanted to see it, and I finally got my chance!

The couple playing Jamie and Cathy in this production are both graduates of my Conservatory, and are married in real life. So during the production, they used actual video from their wedding and their first dance at their reception, their engagement photo, a wedding picture... It added something really special to the production, and made the love between the characters ring so true. I loved that. :)


Wednesday, January 20

We continued on with the New York dialect. There are some sounds that are "optional". The strangest of these to my ear are:

- saying "er" in place of "oi", so that "oyster" sounds like "erster" and "point" sounds like "pernt"
- taking out the "h" in words that start with "h-liquid u". "Hugh" sounds like "you", and "human" sounds like "you-man".
- saying "toity-toid" instead of "thirty-third"

Killer and I got to work on our partnering duet.

At the very beginning, Movement Professor wanted to change some of our choreography so that Killer and I were running towards each other simultaneously, and then I jump up and he catches me. I don't know why, but I find it absolutely terrifying. Movement Professor didn't understand why I was scared, and I don't fully, either. Killer said something about it having to do with a moving target, and I think that's certainly part of it.

In two of my final Contact Improv pairing videos from last semester (one with Killer, one with D-Train), you can see moments where my partner and I were running at each other, and I just totally froze up. I don't know why it freaks me out. Maybe I'm afraid of collision? Maybe I'm afraid of jumping too far and not being caught? I honestly don't know.

We ended up changing it to something less frightening for me, since we don't have much time to rehearse before we show the pairings (Friday).

I hope our pairing looks okay. It's so hard to know what things are going to be like when you're in them.

Today we did some table-work for Shakespeare scenes that people will be doing in our next unit. Big Show was out sick, and he's my scene partner, so we're doing our Richard III table-work tomorrow.

I now have one line in Newbie & Iceman's Measure for Measure scene (I play a servant. Hugely exciting). I am also going to be the stage manager for the Othello scene. (It has 5 actors in it and probably will have the most complicated blocking to take down, so I volunteered for it, as I think I probably like stage management more than any of my classmates).


Tuesday, January 19


Today was our first day of the general New York dialect. It is WAY easier for me than the RP British was (although I ended up getting the hang of that quite well by the end).

Part of it is just that I've known people that have New York dialects, so it's easier to hear the signature sounds in my head. And part of it is that I once played a character who was pretending to have a New York dialect and had to ad lib in it, so I was approximating it for that role and got a good rhythm for it.

So far, it's fun. Our "Cheat Sheet" (aka a list of the dialect shifts for all the signature sounds) is due Friday.

Another half-day of class. Movement Professor seems happy with our progress in ballet. Killer and I have a rehearsal for our duet tomorrow.

I did my final day of work on my Constance monologue from King John. I think it's really coming along, although I'd by no means call it finished. After I'd done it several times, and Acting Professoressa kept trying to get me to simplify it, she asked, "Do you feel like you're doing just nothing now?" I said, "No, I feel like I'm doing way more than I was before." She said something like, "Well, don't tell us that." I guess in having to simplify things, I actually have to make such an active effort at restraint that it feels like I'm doing more.

Why? Well, it's hard for me to take a character who is talking about how much grief she's suffering from and not feel that grief. And when I feel the grief, I apparently SHOW too much grief. Acting Professoressa calls it "playing a state of being", and it's something we're supposed to avoid.

Or at the top of my speech, I say tell a Cardinal that he must not be holy because he's telling lies about me. I have to do it without "playing a point of view", or giving an opinion on the fact that a Cardinal is an unholy liar. It hasn't been an easy thing for me to accomplish.

I'm getting better at it, but it's a challenge.

Here are some of the notes I took for myself:
- Ask "Don't you see?", "Do you understand?", and "Do you see what I mean?" after every line in this speech, especially in the section personifying grief.
- Don't play bitterness
- Don't show state of being
- Don't show point of view
- stay plugged into Need
- make Doings more specific
- link beats together with Need
- land each item in lists to prevent them from feeling list-y
- take caesuras in "Then, have I reason, to be fond of grief"
- landing does not just apply to ends of sentences; you have to land internally as well.


Quotations: Volume 46

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)

"If you're screaming to the, God forbid, areopagites..."
- Voice Professor, giving an example of screaming at the audience

D-Train: (groan)
Movement Professor: That just means you're starting to like ballet.

Movement Professor: (groans while doing a stretch for her thighs)
D-Train: That just means you're starting to like ballet.
Movement Professor: It means I like opening my thighs.

"I might have to cut out of class an hour early that Thursday because I have a plane to catch. And I'm a girl, so I have s*** to carry."
- Acting Professoressa, about leaving for recruitment

(after glancing at syllabus)
Newbie: I have a question about the Shakespeare scenes. It says we're doing three?
Acting Professoressa: Right. That's probably a fairy tale.

"If you are completely in Reality Number Two, if you have packed correctly for this journey, I'm gonna know it."
- Acting Professoressa

"Well come out and play. If you don't have that, you might as well play Richard Dahlmer."
- Acting Professoressa

"The thing to hang your hat on is Need. That'll get you where you need to go."
- Acting Professoressa

"Try to get away with it."
- Acting Professoressa, on playing "evil" characters

"If I get wind that you, as a graduate of the [Conservatory], are out there playing qualities, I will be out there on my f***ing broomstick..."
- Acting Professoressa (I didn't hear the end of the sentence, because we all started busting out laughing)

"These 3D glasses don't work!"
- Killer, during our "goggle" exercise to focus our voices

(while discussing the vowel in "pie", and the phrase "I like my pie".)
Voice Professor: Is there a swear word with [the "i" sound] in it?
Angela: Not that I can think of.
DC: Shite?
Voice Professor: I like my shite-y pie.

(O.D. walked up to Voice Professor to ask a question)
O.D.: Are the muscles of support the same as Kegel muscles?
Voice Professor: No. Get back over there.

"You can feel however you want; just don't play it."
- Acting Professoressa

"This is not how you want to end up, like Mr. Google in the library."
- Acting Professoressa

"You can nail him. You can nail a baby. You can nail a King. You can nail anyone as long as you're right... (sees Angela writing down the quotation) Jesus, I'm going to be arrested for child abuse if my name gets put next to that."
- Acting Professoressa, after D-Train mentioned he was uncertain of whether he should use the verb "to nail" as an action

"You're the King. And I'll tell you one thing; you're a lot better looking than a lot of those kings they used to have. Some of those people were dogs."
- Acting Professoressa, about Iceman's monologue where he plays a King

"You call on God if you want, but don't spend a lot of time with God. It's really about them."
- Acting Professoressa, on how Iceman is calling on God as a tactic to get through to the people of his court

"You can land them both. You're an athlete. You can do it. You're an acting athlete."
- Acting Professoressa, about landing two lines in quick succession

"You have to come up with the list as you're saying it. It's the bathtub, and the wallpaper, and the chicken!"
- Acting Professoressa

"These are not Shakespeare's words. These are your words. They are Romeo's words, and you are Romeo."
- Acting Professoressa, to Killer.


Friday, January 15

No Movement class for me today, because Movement Professor was working with partnering pairs.

The final day of our week-long exam. We ended up on stage in trios improvising lines based off of Cowboy Mouth. When I said my text, Voice Professor said it was great, but had me repeat it louder (she said it was good for the small theatre that we were in, but for the sake of the exercise she wanted me to do it as though we were in the large theatre).

At the end of class, Voice Professor said that we all got "A"s on our exam. Go team '11!

Voice Professor mentioned that Paul Meier, the dialectician whose book we study from, is doing online group workshops for dialects during his sabbatical via webcam for only $40. I'm seriously considering signing up.

Acting Professoressa wants us all to observe the actor playing Galileo in the Rep right now, and pay attention to his sense of economy. He doesn't push or force anything. He doesn't mess about. He doesn't do anything for the sake of doing. Everything he does is grounded, simple, and real. She wants us to incorporate that into our Shakespeare work, and stop feeling like we have to be doing something in order for it to be interesting.

Working on monologues, it was mentioned that the verb "to enlighten" enters most monologues as a "Doing" at some point in time.

My favorite note that I took of the day:
These are not Shakespeare's words; these are YOUR words. They are the character's words, and you are the character.

We discussed how actors who are less experienced tend to jump on anger in scenes, because it is easier and more accessible than many other things that characters go through (even love). Our job is to NOT jump on it, but to make every emotion real.

Next week, we're probably going to...

Tuesday: more monologue work
Wednesday: tablework for Shakespeare scenes
Thursday: end monologue work and tablework for scenes
Friday: class canceled (Acting Professoressa is flying out of town Thursday night. It's recruitment season!)

Our Shakespeare scenes are:

1. All's Well That Ends Well; I, iii
Lines 128 - end of scene
Duchess: Wifey
Helena: Two-Shots-Up

2. Julius Caesar; IV, iii
Lines 1-123
Cassius: O.D.
Brutus: D-Train

3. Richard III; IV, iv
Lines 197-431, with internal cuts
Richard: Big Show
Elizabeth: Angela

4. Measure for Measure; II, iv
Angelo: Iceman
Isabella: Newbie

5. Othello; IV, ii
Othello: Thrill
Desdemona: All-The-Way
Emilia: Wifey
Iago: Killer
Roderigo: D-Train

Thursday, January 14

Today was my first day of using a brand new notebook. Maybe it's my imagination, but I feel like I go through notebooks really quickly here. This one is my first pink one, which I'm actually strangely excited about, since I'm usually not much of a pink person. But anyway.

Still in the theatre. I had to get up on stage and do a "scene" (which actually meant "whatever text I could remember from the scene from Cowboy Mouth that we worked on last year"... which, as it turned out, wasn't very much. There was a lot of improvising involved). I thought it went pretty well. It sounds like this whole week of work is going to be our exam grade, instead of having a normal exam.

By the way, the scene that Thrill and O.D. improvised was hilariously brilliant. Thrill took on the woman's role, and they had a bizarre conversation about Dolce & Gabbana shoes. Awesome.

Another half-day of weights and barre work. At the end we did some floor-crossing whatnot involving kicks.

We got through the rest of the class' first round of monologue work, and started the second round.

In monologues, if part of the obstacle you're creating for yourself is that your partner keeps trying to leave, don't actually have them leave before the end of the monologue; it leaves you in a weak position.

We talked briefly about the importance of linking lines within the same beat. It gives more sense to the monologue, and drives you forward.

Iceman did an exercise that Acting Professoressa called "Show and Tell", in which he had to indicate every single word in his monologue (like the Torn Mime) while speaking it. It was really fun, and it really freed him up with the text the next time he went through it. I'm totally going to put that exercise in my toolbox.


Wednesday, January 13

In the beginning of class, we were working with focusing our voices, and Voice Professor had us use our hands like "goggles" to help us focus on where to send the sound. We started our sent phrases with the words "Hey you!". It eventually got pretty silly. ("Hey you, get off of my cloud!"; "Hey you, these 3D glasses don't work!"; "Hey you, get away from my car!"; "Hey you, this is MY car!")

I did my screaming/shouting individual practice in the theatre. So basically, I stood on stage with Voice Professor and screamed and shouted while my classmates were in the last few rows of the audience.

I asked Voice Professor if I could work on a modified scream: I wanted to do a good spring break "WOOOOOOOOO!" I'm a pretty good shouter, and I don't often have to scream on stage, but I do a lot of "WOOOO!"-ing in my real life, and I want to make sure that I'm keeping my voice healthy when I'm off stage, too. She thought it was funny, I think. She said that technically it's somewhere between a scream and a shout, as it isn't on text but does have a specific sound.

Our homework is to write up all the steps we go through to prepare our voices, as well as what each step does.

After lifting weights and doing barre work, Killer and I got to start blocking our partnering exercise today. And it was exhausting. It's not really ballet, and it's not really modern... I felt like a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance. One who was about to be voted off the show.

It was fun, though. It involves some lifts, and falling, and dragging, and is generally ridiculous. I think I'm going to propose to Killer (are you reading this?) that we come up with a story to tell through the choreography, to make things more specific. But honestly, I have no idea what this story could possibly be.

More people did their monologues. Things I wrote down today included:

- Trust yourself
- Live in Reality #2
- Make specific notes on doings
- A good reason to change the way you're looking at a prop on stage is needing to see it in better lighting
- "share a secret" is a useful doing


Tuesday, January 12

Due to some scheduling rearrangement to help the Rep season, we had Movement first today, which we really haven't done since 1st-year. It was ROUGH. Ballet is not a good "first thing in the morning" activity for us.

We lifted weights. I've been using 3-pound weights. Last year, I got up to 8-pound weights at one point, so I kind of feel pathetic about it. And every day that we lift, I start off thinking, "This is way too easy. I need heavier weights." But by the end of lifting, they feel like fifty pound weights, and my arms are about to fall off. So I guess I'll be sticking to my pathetic 3-pounders for the time being.

We met in the small theatre to work on our vocal extremes. Just basic screaming and shouting stuff. We have a pratical exam later in the week.

Voice Professor asked us to review our text from last year from Cowboy Mouth. I don't remember much of it, except wanting an electric dishwasher and a black baby lamb with a bell in its tail... I hope I can find it.

We've been working on our Shakespeare monologues, and it was my day to work.

I'm doing a spliced-together Constance monologue from King John , of which I'm very fond. The first time through, it felt off. I think I was nervous, which I hate. I get nervous sometimes the first time I do something. Not even just in theatre, but in life. My 1st-year Acting Professor said that if you're nervous, it's usually a sign that your tools aren't sharp enough, and you're not doing enough work on your own. He's a genius, so I'm going to go ahead and trust that he's right... I know he is. But honestly, even when my tools are at their sharpest, I still get nervous sometimes. Dirty little secret.

We worked on it, and it got better each go through, as it always does. Acting Professoressa says that my biggest thing to overcome as an actor is a tendency to play my emotions instead of my need. I don't know when I'm doing it and when I'm not, as I feel very connected to the character and the situation throughout... Hopefully I'll get a feel for it soon.

A great note from the day was in regards to playing "evil" characters. You don't play evil; you try to get away with it. I liked that.


Quotations: Volume 45

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)

"Um, Stage Combat... I may be the only faculty person in the building during Stage Combat, so I might be in charge of it. Not sure how that's gonna work."
- Voice Professor

"We're going to be busy. We're going to be in Machinal. And the right after we'll be in The Game of Love and Chance. Is that the name of the play? (group collectively says 'yes') Oh, good. That would've been embarrassing for me."
- Voice Professor

"Don't send any play suggestions to me. I'm watching Say Yes to the Dress. I'm not reading that."
- Voice Professor, after people had asked if they could submit suggestions of plays for the theatre to produce next year

"This shouldn't hurt. Ballet shouldn't hurt. At least, not now. It should hurt tomorrow."
- Movement Professor

"...And of course Marivaux is an outgrowth of them. I meant a descendent, not an outgrowth. He's not a fungus."
- Movement Professor, after talking about Moliere and other French playwrights of the time period

"I took speed once. I was awake for four days. [...] I liked it so much that I knew I could never do drugs again."
- [name withheld to protect the guilty]

(while discussing Killer's need in his Romeo monologue, a possibility was that Romeo was trying to get the Friar to give him a miracle)
Acting Professoressa: So this means you are endowing the Friar with the ability to carry out miracles.
O.D.: Would you like me to stand in for that then?

"I don't have a syllabus for you. I'll have one on Tuesday. But, briefly, the syllabus says... the same old crap."
- Acting Professoressa

"Think about what will happen when your granddaughter finds this in the future. She'll read your notes, see all your work... It's inspiring."
- Acting Professoressa, trying to motivate us to do our labor-intensive Shakespeare Workbook homework

"The man is dying, but must the play die?"
- Acting Professoressa, after Iceman's first attempt at his monologue where he plays a dying man


Friday, January 8

Okay, so today was exciting because we learned a new tremoring position! It's one that the 1st-year class had already learned, but we skipped for some reason. So Wifey requested that we learn it, and today we did! It's called the Cross-Body Tremor, and it's similar to a cross-body stretch that we do in Movement Class. I think it's going to be good for our hip flexors.

After destructuring, we went over our vocal extreme work with shouting and yelling. Everyone seems to be remembering it very well.

We started off with lifting weights to music. My weights are 3 pounds. When we started today, I began to think that I should move up to 5-pound weights, because things were a little too easy. But then in a couple of other things we did, 3-pound weights were PLENTY... although that might've been the lifts, or it might've been fatigue (I'm not known for my endurance).

We did some barre work, which is always fun. It turns out I've been doing my "sous-sus" wrong this whole time, so Movement Professor helped me get into a better position today.

Oh! And giant step forward: I'm allowed to look in the mirror now! Last semester, Movement Professor would intentionally put me behind people who were taller than I am so that I couldn't see my body in the mirror. She said that it was important for me to feel the positions, instead of relying on what I was seeing. But in my assessment, she said I was mirror-ready, so today, I finally got to see myself! I was seriously excited about it. Probably more than anyone else in my class would be.

Today was the first of the "short classes". Most of us were excused at 11:15, and then Movement Professor worked with Newbie and O.D. on their duet.

We discussed our process with our monologue notebooks a bit, and then a few people jumped up and started working. Today it was Iceman and Two-Shots-Up, and we started on Killer's.


Thursday, January 7

The first day of a new semester, and already I'm up later than I should be, writing a blog post.

This is my final semester of normal classes (even though I have a year and a half of grad school left). And this semester is short! Due to the Roy Hart workshop, Film workshop, Stage Combat workshop, and Cold Readings workshop... as well as Spring Break Week and Production Week (which we're required to be here for because we have performances of Machinal, but don't have classes during), it's not the usual length. I think that, as a result, everything is going to feel fast and intense, as we have to squeeze a ton in to the classes that we do have.

Today, we just had Voice class and Movement class.

Voice Professor gave us a syllabus. This semester, the big things we're working on are:
- One Voice; Volume
- New York Dialect
- Irish Dialect

Everything seems pretty straightforward. Irish is a really hard dialect, so it's a larger portion of our grade than New York. Originally, we were going to do three dialects this semester, but Voice Professor thinks that doing two dialects and really delving into them might be better training for "how to learn a dialect" than learning an additional one but having less time for each.

Voice Professor said to look over our notes for "Screaming Without Suffering" before class tomorrow.

We only have 10 Movement classes before our Roy Hart workshop. We're going to meet 9 of those days and start by doing a Ballet Barre as a class. Then, most of the class will be excused so that Movement Professor can meet with us to work on duets, which will be a combination of contact improv and ballet. Our duet pairings are:

- O.D. & Newbie
- Iceman & Wifey
- Killer & Angela
- Thrill & Two-Shots-Up
- D-Train & All-The-Way
- Big Show & Newbie

(Five of the pairings are ones that we did Contact Improv with for our Showing, and then Newbie is going twice because we have one more male than female.)

Movement Professor wants us to put aside at least half an hour every day to work with our partners outside of class. She says that rehearsing in small chunks is going to be the best way to get a lot done. We'll be showing the class our work on January 20.

For our Stage Combat workshop, we will most likely be put into M/M and F/F scenes. We're up for certification this year! CRAZY! 3rd-Year AG will be probably going through testing with us, as she was injured last year and couldn't test with her class.

After that, we move into Elizabethan, Restoration, and Baroque styles. We'll be starting off with short research projects, where groups will just share 30 interesting facts on their topic, as it relates to theatre. The groups are:

O.D., Newbie, & Angela - Spanish Baroque & Golden Age
All-The-Way, Killer, & Iceman - France & Italy
Big Show, Two-Shots-Up, Thrill - Elizabethan
D-Train, Wifey - Restoration

From there, we'll learn three dances, all of which Movement Professor had to spell for me:
- Pavan (a Spanish walking-style dance)
- French Menuet (which is different than an English Minuet)
- Gigue (which sounds like "Jig", but with a "zh" sound...) or another quick-stepping dance

For Restoration, we'll be doing "Stuffed Turkeys" (aka monologues from Restoration plays which are jam packed full of movement metaphors, and which looked AWESOME when we saw the current 3rd-years do them at their showing last year). And we're going to have to get Restoration costumes. For ladies, that involves corsets, fans, handkerchiefs, skirts, soft blouses with open necks, and petticoats (or something that Movement Professor said that sounded like "pan-gay", but I have no idea what that means). For gentlemen, it means tights, breeches, shirt with draping off the cuffs, handkerchief, high heels (which she recommended they buy at a specialty store for drag queens in order to find shoes that will fit), and short pants (because calves were eroticized).

And in the final weeks, we'll be doing Commedia! Movement Professor has been telling me since the first month I was here that she thinks I'm built for Commedia, so I'm filled with anticipation. She wants us all to find the "type" that we want to play (she has already suggested that I should be a Colombina). Then, we will bring in 10 interesting facts about our type (including the animal they were identified with, and the common predicaments they find themselves in). We're going to learn something called "Grammalot", which is a type of gibberish created by using the common sounds of a language. I'm geeked!

Last night, I attended the opening of Blue/Orange, which stars my classmates D-Train, Thrill, and Big Show. They did a stellar job, and I'm super proud of them. As All-The-Way said to me after the performance, it shows all three of them off really well. It's funny, but also intense. And they pulled it off. (I love you, fellas!) If you're in town, don't miss it!


Catch up Post!

This is my Semester Wrap-Up post, which is much needed.

First of all, the traditional end-of-semester photographs:

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

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

When we started our workshop Sunday, David started by talking about what his goals were for us. He talked about watching Maria Callas on YouTube, and then watching Joan Sutherland. Or Ella Fitzgerald versus Billie Holliday. He wanted us to be able to act the song, like Frank Sinatra (whom David considers to be the greatest pop singer of the 20th century, because he's so human in his music).

A sampling of the notes I took during the workshop:
- Mike Nichols says he directs a scene by summing it up in one sentence beforehand.
- We don't really want to see a character, as much as we want to see a person being real and being themselves.
- You have to find the character before anything happens. During the musical introduction, don't just sit there waiting to sing. Be alive.
- Try to never need the director.
- Use every part of the song. Don't waste any moments. Just like the Inuits use the whale.
- Don't be afraid of going too far. Most people are so afraid that they don't go far enough.
- If you go to NYC to be an actor, look into Actor's Connection, One-On-One, and The Network. They do actually get people work.
- Just look for the conflicts, and your work is done for you.
- Before an audition, do your pieces before a few people, and tell them you don't want any feedback except for, "You're great!"

It was an incredible experience, just like last year was. Thanks, David!

Back Row: 1st-Year BB, D-Train, Iceman, 1st-Year JaS, Wifey, 1st-Year JoS, 1st-Year MD, 1st-Year GK, 1st-Year JMM, Newbie, Angela
Middle Row: Killer, Thrill, 1st-Year LB, Two-Shots-Up
Front Row: All-The-Way, David, O.D., Music Director

Back Row: Angela, Big Show, Wifey, 1st-Year TS, 1st-Year KC, 1st-Year BB, 1st-Year JoS
Middle Row: 1st-Year JMM, David, 1st-Year AS, Music Director, 1st-Year GP, 1st-Year SDW, 1st-Year GK
Front Row: O.D., Iceman, D-Train, Two-Shots-Up, Killer, 1st-Year MD, Newbie, All-The-Way

I'm not even going to try to explain who is who in this one. :)

My assessments went very well. At one point, Head of Program said, "Angela, you are the perfect student." ;)

Things I need to work on in my *gasp* last semester of classes will include:
- develop a greater sense of feminine refinement
- work with subtler choices and nuance
- work on "characters who aren't so sure of themselves, who don't have all the answers, or who are out of balance"
- increase overall strength and awareness of what my body is doing, specifically with my limbs
- continue to focus on not locking my knees

I have an assignment due next Tuesday that I've barely started on... Whoops. It's called "The Monologue Workbook". It has several steps, including...

Gettings Started: Put the monologue in context (i.e. read the entire play from which your monologue comes)

1. Clarify Meanings (look up definitions of all words in monologue)

2. Paraphrasing (maintaining the structure/syntax/punctuation of the original monologue -- including same parts of speech --
paraphrase entire monologue... we must account for every word)

3. Scansion & Breathing (on 1st copy of the monologue and scan the entire thing, as well as intended breathing points)

4. First Acting Concerns (on the 2nd copy)
a. Explain the inciting incident (in the form of dialogue, if possible)
b. Note your need in one simple statement
c. Divide the monologue into actor beats
d. Identify specific, non-intellectual doings for each beat
e. Explain the consequences of failing to get your need met
f. Describe your dream ending

5. Finding Antithesis (on 3rd copy, circle each thesis and antithesis and connect with a line, using a different color for each pair)

6. Finding Alliteration (on 4th copy)

7. Finding Assonance (on 5th copy)

8. Other Verbal Devices (on 6th copy, point out historic rhymes, end rhymes, puns, bawdy, oxymoron, paradox, repetition, personification, apostrophe, and asides)

9. Analyzing Imagery (on 7th copy, note imagery and show how it relates to the theme of the speech)

10. Point of View (on 8th copy, describe point of view on the world, and points of view on the persons to whom you are speaking, as well as point of view on yourself)

11. Literary Research (look at notes for several editions of the text. Write down top three discoveries)

12. Performance History (Check into the history of performances of your role. Write down top three discoveries)

As you can see, I have a lot of work ahead of me. But I think it's going to be fascinating. :)

The first Late Night (aka student produced theatre piece) of 2010 was "Tunes for Two", which was an evening of duets. It was so much fun! I sat front row center (as I like to do at Late Nights). I loved it. I hope I can be in the next one!