Friday, February 26

More work on our New York dialect scenes. Big Show, Thrill and I are off-book now. I think we're doing pretty well with the dialect. Our exam is on Tuesday, so I think we'll be able to run it during Tech this weekend.

Big Show and I did our scene, and Acting Professoressa said that I finally hit my character on target. She asked what I was doing differently. Honestly, I'm not 100% sure... Part of it is that I've been so worried about playing anger, playing sadness, playing bitterness... and as a result, I hadn't been allowing myself to FEEL those things. I'm allowed to FEEL them; I'm just not allowed to play the problems. So now I've given myself some freedom back. It was the least frustrated I've felt with that scene since... well, ever.

Tech. Oh man. Well, we have costumes now, which is cool. We're doing 10-out-of-12s tomorrow and Sunday. Pray for us.


Thursday, February 25

Voice Professor was out today. We did our warm-up along with a recording that we have of her.

After that, I got together with Thrill to work on our New York dialect scene. Big Show left instead of working with us, so Thrill and I traded off reading his lines.

The first 30 minutes of class, Movement Professor worked one-on-one with All-the-Way figuring out all the counts of the Pavane (she's our dance captain for the assignment). Then she worked with all the girls showing us the counts.

In Iceman & Newbie's scene from Measure for Measure, I play a servant with exactly one line: "One Isabel, a sister, desires access to you." And then he tells me to send her in, and I leave. Not exactly a pivotal role. But Acting Professoressa wanted me to say what my "Need" was in the scene alongside the others, nonetheless. So we ended up with the idea that my need was to be the best servant that the world has ever known, and to just sort of disappear into the background (which she liked to Anthony Hopkins in The Remains of the Day). So backstage, I was trying to get into character, and then I came out and bowed, but Iceman's back was to me and he didn't see me bow to him... so I just kept bowing instead of saying my line. And then I was so nervous about not being the best servant ever, that I screwed up pretty much every word in my ONE LINE. I think I said, "Isabella, one Isabella, a servant, wants access to thee." COMPLETELY wrong. Everyone just started laughing. It was a disaster.

Anyway. That was the most memorable part of acting class for me today: screwing up a scene that I was barely in.

We're starting to tech. The Director warned us that this is going to be a vicious tech process, and that we're going to have to use every minute of it. Let the games begin.


Wednesday, February 24

I regret to say that today was the first time in my 3.5 semesters of graduate school that I have missed class time… I came into Voice class very late today. I apologized to Voice Professor, who was very kind about it (because I’m not a repeat offender, and because I’m quite solid on the New York dialect, which is what I was missing).
We continued reciting the most interesting lines from everyone’s New York Dialect scenes. Things are going pretty well. Our exam is going to be on Friday.

We spent an hour on the Pavane. I now dance with Iceman, D-Train, and Killer.
After that, we showed the first couple of sentences of our “Stuffed Turkey” monologues. I worked with Wifey and Two-Shots-Up on our actions last night in the dressing room during our downtime in rehearsal. I’m pretty excited about this assignment. So far, everyone has found some very entertaining motions to use.
The next few Movement Classes are going to be private lessons. Mine is on Tuesday, so I get the next two days off from Movement.

It’s hard to know what to write everyday about Acting Class (and about Machinal, actually) I guess because it’s the kind of stuff that I absorb more than the stuff I take notes on. And additionally, a lot of times notes I take are ones that I’ve taken before, but that I now need to apply under different circumstances. And on days that I’m not working through my scene, it feels weird to blog about other people’s stuff…
The only notes I wrote today were:
- Listen
- Linking sentences is good, but don’t do it at the expense of punctuation
- Land

Today was our “crew run-through”… which means that it’s the first time that most of our 1st-Year Crew has seen what we’re doing with the show. I saw Head of Program, Movement Professor, and Voice Professor in the audience as well.

I took a weird risk with the Matron tonight, and mocked Newbie's character. Director didn't like it.

With the Nurse, I've gone through a bunch of different iterations. Tonight, Director thought I was too empathetic, and need to get back to being more annoyed.

I got three notes from Voice Professor. One was about an inflection, and the other two were about landing operative words.


Tuesday, February 23

We started with a warm-up, which was nice.

Then, on to New York dialect. We worked on some sentences that were proving difficult for various people in their scenes, and then everyone in the class recited them.

We started with the Pavane. My primary partner for it is Iceman, which is awesome. I don’t get to work with Iceman nearly enough. But aside from that, well, the Pavane isn’t a terribly exciting dance. It’s not very difficult, and it moves very slowly. I think we’re doing it for a sense of the style of the period, and the opportunity to find how to be individual in a period style while doing choreography.
After that, we moved on to our Restoration monologues. Eventually, they will be filled with very specific actions with our props. They’re packed with so many actions that Movement Professor calls them “Stuffed Turkeys”.
The monologue I am working on is from The Rover (or The Banish'd Cavaliers)" by Aphra Behn (one of the first female professional playwrights). I'm playing Angellica Bianca. Here's a description of the scene:

"Angellica Bianca, a famous courtesan, experiences love for the first time by falling for the philandering cavalier Willmore. In this scene, brandishing a pistol which she holds to his breast, she expresses her anger and sense of betrayal after having found him paying court to another woman."

And here's the monologue:

You said you loved me.
And at that instant I gave you my heart.
I'd pride enough and love enough to think
That it could raise thy soul above the vulgar
Nay, make you all soul too, and soft and constant.
Why did you lie and cheapen me? Alas,
I thought all men were born to be my slaves,
And wore my power like lightning in my eyes;
But when love held the mirror, that cruel glass
Reflected all the weakness of my soul;
My pride was turned to a submissive passion
And so I bowed, which I ne'er did before
To anyone or anything but heaven.
I thought that I had won you and that you
Would value me the higher for my folly.
But now I see you gave me no more than dog lust,
Made me your spaniel bitch; and so I fell
Like a long-worshipped idol at the last
Perceived a fraud, a cheat, a bauble. Why
Didst thou destroy my too long fancied power?
Why didst thou give me oaths? Why didst thou kneel
And make me soft? Why, why didst thou enslave me?
Ah, sir, ah, sir, I yet had been content
To wear my chains with vanity and joy,
Hadst thou not broke those vows that put them on.

Now, originally the character I was creating for myself for this unit was COMPLETELY different, but it wasn't going to work with this monologue. So I changed some things.

Originally, my dog was a chihuahua, and my name was "Lady Buttermuffin".

Now my dog is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and my lace is Venetian Needle Point Plat. I think my name is going to be "Madame Felicia Featherotica".

Movement Professor took us through a series of questions that we were supposed to answer with our characters in mind. It was something like:
- looking at your lace, come up with four adjectives to describe it. Then, find a way to turn those adjectives into adverbs. (e.g. 'wild' => 'wildly')
- You (as your character) are walking through a garden and you come across an object. What sort of object is it?
- The object that you have found in the garden: what sort of condition is it in? (describe in one word)
- You come to a wall. Do you try to get over it? Do you ignore it and go back? Do you look for another way around?
- What is your [character’s] favorite color?
- If you (as your character) were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?
- Walking through the garden, you find a broken tea cup. What do you do?
- When you dream, are your dreams “fantastical”, “everyday”, or “frustratingly boring”?
- Look at the picture of the dog you’ve chosen. What is the dog’s favorite thing to do?

Then she led us through how we were to use the answers.
- The adverbs you’ve come up with, the animal you chose, and the things the dog likes to do are all descriptive of the way the character moves.
- The object you find and the condition you find it in inform the character’s point of view.
- The way you deal with the wall shows how ambitious the character is.
- The favorite color of the character shows their feelings on sex. (If magenta is one end of the scale and cold blue is on the other, like temperature.)
- The way you deal with the broken tea cup shows how you think about death.

(I don’t remember what the dreams mean.)
Our homework is to come up with counter-point movement with our fans/snuffboxes/handkerchiefs for the first couple of sentences in our monologues. It’s okay for movement to be literal. The movement must not happen at the same time text is happening. We have to treat them as two separate languages, and we can only use one at a time to communicate.
Movement Professor said that if at any point during the time that we’re doing this work you feel bored, that you should stop. She says that actors are good at continuing to do things that they find boring for very long periods of time, but that it’s not actually beneficial to do that. If you’re bored, it’s probably because you’re frustrated or angry about something, so you should figure out what the problem is and try to solve it. And then find a way to make what you’re doing fun and interesting.

Big Show and I did our Richard III scene again. I feel like every time we do it, I’ve gone too far in one direction or the other. One day the note is that I need to fight more, and the next day my note is that I’m fighting too much. One day I’m too aggressive, and the next I’m too passive. It’s frustrating. Acting Professoressa says we’re getting closer, but I feel like I just can’t nail down where the lines are in this scene.
I’m looking forward to the comedy scenes… I feel like they’ll be more fun to work on somehow.

We did a slow work-through of the show. The Director seems to be pretty happy with where we are. I tried out some new things for The Nurse, and he seemed to like them. So that’s good. Tomorrow is our run for the crew. Tech week is upon us.


Quotations: Volume 50

Nifty Fifty!

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've got to find a new party!"
- D-Train, while improvising a scene in Movement class with Big Show using his "external" of "on cocaine". Big Show had told him that it wasn't cool to show up at his party like that

"Your version of this scene prevents a far more dysfunctional relationship than I ever thought possible."
- Acting Professoressa, to O.D. and D-Train about their Brutus/Cassius scene from Julius Caesar

"You're not giving me enough dill on the pickle there, on the word 'honors'."
- Acting Professoressa, to D-Train

"It is way too early in the morning for me to control myself."
- Head of Program, after making a randy comment at 9:00am

Head of Program: No professional organization worth its salt is going to give you one side that's completely clean, and then another side where she strips off all her clothes, has sex with five men, and then murders a dog.
Iceman: Although I would like to see that play...

"I guess what I'm saying is, be prepared to fib, if not outright lie."
- Head of Program, on getting out of an audition that makes you uncomfortable by saying you have a scheduling conflict

"If you say, 'her peas', make sure it doesn't sound like 'herpes'."
- Voice Professor

(after watching one of Thrill's expressive actions with a handkerchief)
Movement Professor: What does that mean?
Thrill: "Smell me, I am man."

(Big Show has worn a baseball cap to class, and has rotated it sideways)
Acting Professoressa: Why do you have your hat on like that?
Big Show: Do you like it?
Acting Professoressa: No, I think you look like a jerk. You're a Shakespearean actor. Don't wear your hat like that.


Friday, February 19


We started speaking our New York dialect scenes. I’m working with Big Show and Thrill. I think I'm doing alright.


The men showed their snuffbox moves.

We did something with a salon. People had to enter the “room” one at a time, and make a grand entrance before greeting each other.

At one point, we had to have a secret lover, and find ways to communicate with them using our body language, facial expression, and props. I decided that Thrill was my secret lover, and as I was communicating that to him, it became clear that he had chosen me as his as well! Very fun.

We also worked on handshakes, and gentlemen kissing ladies’ hands.

We started working on the Pavane. My dance partner is Iceman. It’s moving super slowly right now.


Acting Professoressa had people working today write their “Need” in one cogent sentence on the chalkboard. It was a way of making sure they’d really nailed down what their goal in the scene was, to try to keep their stakes high and their words active.
Other notes of the day:

- There’s a difference between aggression that comes out of hate than the aggression that comes out of hurt.

- Don’t pick up your cues TOO soon, as you might be missing an important piece of ingormation that really needs to land on you.


We did our “designer run-through” today. It was attended not only by the Director, Stage Manager, and ASM (1st-Year GP), but also:
- The sound designer
- The lighting designer
- The costume designer
- The set designer
- The costume crew (1st-Year AS and 1st-Year GK)
- A prospective student who is visiting the program right now (It’s recruitment season!)

It kinda felt like an audience, which was cool.

I think the run went pretty well. I’m in Scene 4 (the hospital) and Scene 9 (the jail). Scene 4 has been going well for a while now, and feels like one of the tightest scenes at the moment. Scene 9 has taken a while to find its footing, but I think we’re finally on the right track. This was the first time we’ve run it when I actually felt pretty good about it after the fact.


Thursday, February 18


Our final day of the auditioning workshop.

I asked a question that led into a whole long conversation. The topic? If you realize at an audition that the play you’re auditioning for is something that you are opposed to doing (because you are unwilling to do something that the play calls for, or because you’re morally opposed to the play, etc.), how do you gracefully back out of it? As it turns out, I’m not the only person that this was a problem for.

The short version of the answer: if you know you won’t take it, don’t audition for it. If it’s a question of nudity or smoking or something, you can say that it’s something you have a problem with. If it has to do with you not liking the play, DO NOT OFFEND THEM BY TELLING THEM THAT. Consider blaming your schedule instead. If you are in a situation where you cannot get out of it any other way, say, “I’m very sorry. I think I need to pass.” Be as polite as possible.

Other notes I took included:

- By knowing plot points, you should recognize the internal structure of the scene. Use that to know what the character has to communicate, and what the story exists to do.

- Know your individual issues going into an audition (do you need to memorize sides? Do you need to practice your “s” sounds? Etc.), and spend time taking care of them for yourself.

- Have the script in hand -- even if you memorized your side -- unless otherwise instructed. If you don’t have it in your hand, it looks more like a performance than a work-in-progress, and sends a subconscious message to the director that they will not be able to direct you to do different things with the scene.

- Be capable of listening without taking pauses for more responses


We are now coming to class in our full restoration regalia. Very fun. Remind me to take pictures.
We do walking and greeting each other, as well as snubbing, and grand reverénces to the King. We do a little work with the barre.

Our assignment from last week was to come up with actions with our fans (ladies), handkerchiefs & snuffboxes (gentlemen). We started showing our fan and handkerchief moves today.

Movement Professor didn’t love most of mine. She says I need clearer a “beginning, middle, end” of each action. Also, some of mine look “too contemporary”. Oh well. I’ll keep working.


Lately, Acting Professoressa has been relating her thoughts on the Olympics to her thoughts on class.

- These athletes train and train and train because they want to be the best _____________ in the world. If we want to be the best actors in the world, we have to do the same.

- These athletes are obsessed with their training, and sacrifice a lot in their lives for their sports. We will also sacrifice for our art.

- When figure skaters fall (after all that training, sacrifice, passion, and their families and countries depending on them), they have to get right back up and try to keep going without taking any time to dwell. We as actors must do the same when things go wrong, either in our scenes, or in our careers.

We had a discussion during the scene-work about not contradicting the “script demands” that are between the lines of text.


Wednesday, January 17

Yesterday around noon we got an e-mail of a PDF version of the play that we’re using for this workshop, and were expected to read it last night, and prepare two sides for the character we were assigned to “audition” for. The play is called How to Pray, and I was assigned the main character, Faith.
Today I got a chance to read in class. Head of Program said that I did quite well with a challenging scene for auditions. (The challenge of it being to prove that as an actor I could connect with a partner, while playing a character who was avoiding connecting with another character.)
The notes that I personally got were:
- Don’t overuse smiling as a tactic. Even if it is a specific choice, it starts to look like a crutch/default/generalization (a.k.a. “the smiling disease”).
- You don’t have to show that you’re listening to the partner. You can just listen.
Other notes I wrote (about others, and about the process) included:
- Don’t start pacing. It has nothing to do with your intention and weakens the audition.
- Make the scene all about the Reader (not about you). Since the directors are watching you, then you appear active, and the scene seems like it’s about you.
- If the script is unpublished, ask for the script beforehand. Ask if you can pick up a hard copy, or if they can send you a PDF.
- Look for ways that you can control the scene, instead of waiting to see how the Reader is going to control it, or expecting the Reader to do certain things for you.
- Have a way to be in the scene from the very beginning. Don’t find the conflict mid-scene, because you might not get that far before they cut you off.

We continued showing our external characterization work.

More scene work.

We did our first full run of the scenes tonight. It seemed to go pretty well.


Tuesday, February 16

For the next three days, we're doing a workshop on auditioning with Head of Program and Voice Professor.

Today, we got sides handed to us as we walked into the classroom. We had no idea what the play was, or what it was about. Completely cold readings. Fun, fun.

Notes I made included:
- Be careful not to rush through it
- Conversely, don't fill it with pauses. Act on the lines.
- Avoid playing general qualities.
- Make it specific
- Make it focused on the other/the reader
- Know why you have to talk
- If you know that you're not great at reading, read out loud as a habit in life, as often as possible.
- Don't make a choice like, "I want to move", or "I want to ramble". Instead, focus on ease, calm, and clarity.
- If you're in the hallway and have a few minutes to prepare, and you have NO IDEA what a word means, or how it's pronounced, or what a concept you're talking about is, you could use a smart cell phone to search online. Otherwise, it is completely fine to ask a quick question of the director when you enter the room before you begin.
- It's also perfectly okay to ask for a few more minutes to look over the scene if you're a slow reader
- physical characterizations can be small (and perhaps should be), but they must be specific
- Bring in pauses if they are backed by intention, but not just for the sake of changing the rhythm
- Rushing is only okay for certain beats if it supports the intention/action/thought (i.e. 'getting to the point')

We worked on external character choices today. Mine was "food stuck in teeth". It sounds so lame in comparison to things other people were doing (like injuries, disorders, or being under the influence of drugs).

We started with exaggerated choices, and then tried to get them down to the smallest we could get them while still having them present.

Angela: food stuck in teeth
All-the-Way: speed
Big Show: Richard III
D-Train: cocaine
Iceman: Buddy Layman from The Diviners
Killer: consumption
Newbie: blocked ears, numb hands and feet, postpartum-related pains
O.D.: developmental disorder & cerebral palsy
Thrill: sprained ankle
Two-Shots-Up: withdrawal from heroin
Wifey: old hip injuries

More scene work.

Notes included:
- If you make a mistake, just get back on your need
- in rehearsals/class, explore what happens when you jump on your cues. It might reveal a rhythm to the scene that you wouldn't find otherwise
- body needs to be energized to suggest there is something at stake here
- don't fold arms on stage


Quotations: Volume 49

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)

"Don't do anything... bad."
- Voice Professor, as she left us alone in the room for a few minutes

"I'm not really interested in any of the good parts of these characters."
- Machinal Director

"If Uncle Fester was super fine, that's what he looked like."
- Two-Shots-Up, on a guy she once knew

"I would marry [person], but he's Muslim, so that could cause problems. I mean, I'm Catholic. I'm Boston Irish Catholic. You know."
- Voice Professor

"My expectations are that you will, one: be creative; two: do all of your work; three: as well as you can."
- Movement Professor, on our Restoration work

"I feel like I'm a gynecologist."
- Acting Professoressa, after sitting on a rolling chair

(while discussing the recruitment auditions)
Acting Professoressa: We had three actors curtsy on the, 'Thank you.'
O.D.: Men or women?

"I am so deeply into my character, I'm in Reality Five-Hundred-Twenty-Wight... and it takes forever to get me back into Reality Number One."
- Acting Professoressa, on auditioning actors who had way too long of final moments in their pieces

"We're trying to determine if a student has some gift, in spite of what they're doing."
- Acting Professoressa, on trying to look past actors bad habits at auditions to see if they're good people to train

"Graduate school is not therapy. We just cannot deal with that."
- Acting Professoressa, on not taking on students if they seem like they have emotional problems

"'Throw away the dress,' I wrote. I can't remember what she was wearing."
- Acting Professoressa, reading some of her notes from recruitment auditions

"I saw a semaphore version of that piece. You know what that means? What they do with the flags? (uses arms to demonstrate flag signaling) That's how much indicating she was doing."
- Acting Professoressa, on an audition where someone used a monologue that Angela has done in class

"Ladies, when the word 'womb' comes up, please do not clutch it."
- Acting Professoressa, warning us of bad auditioning behavior that she saw at recruitment

"Don't gesture with your pelvis on sexual references. We had one guy do it three times."
- Acting Professoressa, warning us of bad auditioning behavior that she saw at recruitment

"I wrote down 'dash C' for 'Clueless'."
- Acting Professoressa, on her recruitment notes

"A couple of Antigones... boring, boring."
- Acting Professoressa, on the recruitment auditions

"I wrote down '[person we know] plays Imogen.' You know, to remember."
- Acting Professoressa, on her recruitment notes

"I wrote down that it was the worst audition in history, and then, to make it worse, he SANG! And he couldn't sing!"
- Acting Professoressa, on a particularly bad audition she saw at recruitment

"Always a lot of Benedicks. I've never seen one work. A lot of swagger, not a lot of purpose."
- Acting Professoressa, on recruitment auditions

Acting Professoressa: This one girl looked like Gary Busey. And she did Cordelia.
Iceman: She should do Point Break!

"I start to feel like an old Jewish grandmother. 'Would it kill her to put on some makeup?' 'She couldn't take a comb to her hair?'"
- Acting Professoressa, on her thoughts at recruitment auditions

"If I notice a sense of humor, I'm all over them. Love that."
- Acting Professoressa, on something that she likes to see in recruitment auditions

"One guy said 'a lovely won-ton woman' instead of 'a lively wanton woman'."
- Acting Professoressa, on a recruitment audition

"Why are people selfish? Why do they behave selfishly? It's based on fear."
- Acting Professoressa, giving advice for scene work

(interrupting a scene in which Wifey has an aside, which she spoke loudly while Two-Shots-Up was right next to her facing the other direction)
Acting Professoressa: Can I ask you, is she deaf?
Wifey: No.
Acting Professoressa: Then be more careful in talking to us. A little quieter. Maybe come all the way downstage.
Wifey: I thought it was more 'the magic of theatre', and now she can hear me.
Acting Professoressa: Try it again. The magic of theatre... Tweet, tweet: we're outside.

(after discussing Doings/Actions)
Acting Professoressa: He's gonna remind you? Then you remind him back! (does a little dance)Then you've got something going on!
Angela: That was a nice little dance there, [Acting Professoressa].
Acting Professoressa: Thank you. Only the best.

(mid-scene, D-Train grabbed O.D. by the shirt, and his snap-up shirt completed unsnapped, revealing his bare, hairy chest)
D-Train: (shocked and embarrassed at what has just happened) Oh, wow.
O.D.: I should have shaved...
O.D.: [Acting Professoressa] liked it, though.

"You really just have to play a nanosecond - and [O.D.], hear me well, a nanosecond - of, 'Did he just say that?!' Take a second to think about whether you've been insulted."
- Acting Professoressa

(when saying the word "heart", Thrill pointed to his heart)
Acting Professoressa: Don't show me. I know where the f*** your heart is.
Thrill: (breaks character completely, and begins hysterically laughing at himself) I know! I don't know why I just did that.

"We can shoot it up. Shoot it up to Patience."
- Thrill, after a conversation about whether the word "Patience" in his text was a command, or a personified virtue cherub... (which was hard to tell, as the capitalization might have just been because it was the beginning of a line), and it was decided that he should try to say the line to Patience, in the sky

"I don't want to see you in sneakers, because there's no Sports Authority in Cypress."
- Acting Professoressa, on Thrill's outfit to play Othello

"Sit your gimpy-a** down."
- Acting Professoressa, to Big Show in his Richard III scene

- Acting Professoressa, using her nick-name for Richard III

"Yes, that's my mission: to make your lives miserable. Poor things."
- Acting Professoressa

Acting Professoressa: (to Thrill on his Othello scene) What do you need from her? What do you want to do to her?
Thrill: I think the subtext of that line is like, 'You whore.'


Friday, February 12

We had a "vocal production" day today. Which means tremoring (destructuring), restructuring, and general warm-up sorts of things. Then we worked again on vocal extremes (screaming and shouting).

Today, we finally got to put on our Restoration outfits in class! I'm sure I'm going to be totally sick of it in like two weeks, but for now, the novelty of it is still totally fun. Thrill paired his outfit with bright orange shiny tights that I totally LOVED (I want a pair for myself!). Iceman has the best shoes; black heels with HUGE white bows on them.

We started working on behavior, including how to greet others when walking past, or how to snub them. We started working a little with fans and handkerchiefs.

Our homework is to come up with 9 distinct actions with out fans/handkerchiefs to express 9 action verbs.

More scene work.

I'm not fully confident in what I'm doing in this play yet, nor do I fully know what story we're telling, but I'm on board. I think it's going to be a really cool production.


Thursday, February 11

Voice class was optional today, for anyone who hadn't completed their transcriptions. I've already done mine (twice, in fact), so I slept in.

We started class with Movement Professor playing a recording of Michael Jackson's original demo of "Beat It". It was fascinating. It really had nothing to do with movement, but I'm glad she incorporated it into our day.

We talked more about period styles. Newbie finished up her presentation, complete with paintings of wives and mistresses. Movement Professor played us some Vivaldi, and showed us pictures of the time period.

More scene work. I'm playing a servant with one line in Iceman & Newbie's Measure for Measure scene, which I am going after with a lot of gusto. :) The first time I did the line, I came in with the idea that Iceman's character had beaten me earlier in the day. My classmates seemed to get a kick out of it, but Acting Professoressa thought it was too extreme. We tried several other things (because, as is important to know, even a character with one line can make a lot of difference in a scene). We tried me sneaking on creepily. We tried me being crazy like Lady Gaga. It was fun to experiment with.


Wednesday, February 10

We spent the class period working on our transcriptions for the New York dialect. I turned mine in at the end of class yesterday, and got it back today. I did TERRIBLY on it, which is unusual for me, because I'm good at transcription, IPA, and this dialect. But I'm sick and hazy, and was making mistakes left and right. I re-did my entire transcription in class today. Unfortunately, it won't improve my grade, but I'm not in grad school for grades; I'm here for the training. And I decided it was important to my training to rewrite the transcription and make sure that I could do it right.

More presentations on period styles. Thrill & Two-Shots-Up talked about Elizabethan England. Big Show, Newbie, and Wifey talked about English Restoration.

We watched some scene work.

I'm the stage manager for the Othello scene, which is easily the most complicated of the scenes. My duties for this are:
- be ready to give lines
- be rigorous about the actors getting the text correct
- know the beat changes
- write down blocking once it is set


Tuesday, February 9

We're finally back to normal classes, and I'm totally relieved.

I'm also still totally sick. I carried a box of anti-viral tissues with me all day and... I'm out of them. Yes, that's right. I went through AN ENTIRE BOX OF TISSUES in ONE DAY. Yeah, it's not pretty.

We were originally supposed to have a cold reading workshop this week, but it's been bumped due to Head of Program's schedule. So as a result, we spent the class period working on our transcriptions of our Play It Again, Sam scenes into a General New York dialect. I finished my transcription mid-class and gave it to Voice Professor. She says she'll check it and give it back to me tomorrow. (She, for the record, is also sick.)

We've started with our "30 interesting facts" group presentations on Restoration. All-The-Way, Killer, and Iceman started off with their presentation on Italian and French Restoration. Then D-Train, O.D., and I talked about Spanish Restoration and Golden Age. We ended up running out of time, so O.D. will be finishing his facts tomorrow.

Over the last couple of weeks, All-the-Way (who is assisting the costume shop for her student assistantship this year) has helped everyone in the class get costumes for our baroque dance and restoration monologue unit. We are supposed to bring in our fans/snuffboxes/handkerchiefs and outfits this week.

We also have the assignment to find a picture of a type of Baroque lace, and a type of dog, and also create a character name for ourselves (the three should be inter-related).

We hadn't seen Acting Professoressa in about an eon, as she's been off doing recruitment. She spent the first part of class talking all about her recruitment adventures, and using them as examples of what to do and what not to do in auditions (mostly what not to do... you'd be shocked and amazed at some things people do...) I don't have the energy to type everything up right now (I seriously took 6.5 pages of notes just on that), but maybe over the weekend I'll get a chance to do a post on the subject.

We discussed what we've been doing in her absence (Roy Hart, Stage Combat, and Machinal). It was nice. A little like Show & Tell crossed with therapy.

After that, we actually got to work. We're now getting on our feet with the Shakespeare scenes she assigned before she left. Today, Wifey and Two-Shots-Up started working on their All's Well That End's Well scene.

Big Show and I have been working on our Richard III stuff every chance we get. I hope we do alright.

I was only called for the first 30 minutes of rehearsal for the ensemble exercises. We have officially moved into the theatre now (which wasn't hard to do, as we don't really have a set). We played the "move chairs into a word" game again today, after not playing it for a long while, and ended up spelling "FORT". It wasn't bad at all.


Quotations: Volume 48

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)

Stage Combat Instructor: Let's say, worst case scenario, what happens if you actually get kicked in the yummies?
1st-year GP: It'll look real!
Stage Combat Instructor: Well, yes, it'll look real, but that's the goal.
1st-year KC: Tony Award!

"We're not saying, 'We're fight people, and you must bow to our whim.'"
- Fight Master

"When you hear the inner monologue of a fight, it's usually either, 'Aha!' or, 'Oh, f***!' It just goes between those two."
- Fight Master

"It's like when people say all the words of Shakespeare and think they've done verse."
- Fight Master, on sometimes people think that by doing all the moves of stage combat, they've actually done a fight scene, even though they're not telling the story at all

"Shakespeare wrote, 'They fight,' not, 'A fight'. It's who they are that makes it important and interesting."
- Fight Master

"You can't stop pursuing your Doing because you're out of choreography."
- Fight Master

"Follow your d*** instincts, man!"
- Fight Master, to O.D.

Killer: (as he throws a punch) BAM!
Fight Master: Don't say bam.

"Don't take reactions to the floor. The floor didn't pay to see your face."
- Fight Master

"Impact becomes a given circumstance."
- Fight Master

"It's like a piece of paper that's on the floor of the stage that actors keep walking by, but they ignore it. But the whole audience sees it, and wonders why the actors aren't acknowledging it."
- Fight Master, on how the audience has seen you get punched in the jaw, and therefore you need to continue to have pain from that punch

"Change the beat, move your feet."
- Fight Master

"We're trying to see if you learned a fight, or how to fight."
- Fight Master

"We want to be worried for the character, never for the actor."
- Stage Combat Instructor

"I've blocked fights where people bash babies' heads into walls, but you never lose an audience faster than when an actor actually spits on another actor's face."
- Stage Combat Instructor, on why you shouldn't do real spitting on stage

Fight Master: You have to follow through with the punch after the knap, so that you look like a fighter. We don't want you to look like a knapper. A knapper? I think I made that up.
Angela: I'm a knapper, not a fighter.
Fight Master: Make knaps, not war.

I'm Sick

Sorry for the lapse in blogging. I'm totally sick right now (if I were one of Snow White's dwarves, I'd be Sneezy).

My whole class passed our Stage Combat actor-combatant recognition whatever-they're-called exams. :)

We return to regular classes this week... which means we're about to be way more exhausted than we have been the last two weeks... Which means I've gotten sick at pretty much the worst possible time. (All-The-Way, Killer, Two-Shots-Up, and Voice Professor have all had whatever I have as well)

I hope to get back to blogging this week, but I make no promises.

All good things,



Thursday, February 4

We've now blocked our entire exam fight, which is cool. In order to do so, we had to review safe ways of falling, elbowing, strangulation, throwing, etc.

The fight goes kind of like this:

- Person A pushes or shoves Person B.
- Person B pushes or shoves Person A.
- Person B slaps Person A with their left hand, and Person A does a clap knap (they use their hands to make the sound of the slap)
- Person A backhand-slaps Person B with their right hand, and Person B does a clap knap.
- Person A walks past Person B and bumps their shoulder as they go by.
- Person B puts their upstage hand on Person A's downstage shoulder to stop them.
- Person A pivots around, and raises their upstage arm to meet Person B's extended arm, and then throw it off.
- Person A uses their right (upstage) fist to try to punch Person B, which Person B blocks with their forearm.
- Person B uses their left (upstage) fist to punch Person A in the latissimus muscle.
- Person B uses their right (downstage) fist to try to punch Person A, which Person A blocks with their forearm.
- Person A throws a punch to either the back of Person B's head, or to Person B's right ear. Person B does a clap knap.
- Person B takes a couple of steps backward
- Person B preps for a sidekick (by chambering the leg at the knee), and then kicks, and Person A uses both hands to block it.
- Person B tries to take a big swing at Person A, which Person A blocks with both forearms.
- Person A tries to elbow Person B, but Person B steps in towards them.
- Person B reaches around and begins to strangle Person A.
- Person A reaches a hand up through the crook of Person B's arm to get away.
- Person A turns around and punches Person B. Person A uses a slip-hand knap.
- Person A pulls Person B's hair
- Person B reaches over Person A's shoulder to get into a grappling position.
- Person B flings Person A around
- Person B knees Person A in the stomach twice.
- Person B pushes Person A, and Person A falls backwards to the ground.
- Person A tries to side-kick Person B, and Person B avoids.
- Person A tries to heel kick Person B, and Person B bats it away.
- Person B steps in toward Person A
- Person A kicks Person B in the groin
- Person B falls to their knee
- Person A tries to crawl away
- Person B grabs Person A's shoulder and throws them back onto the ground
- Person B begins to strangle Person A
- Person A uses their arms to break Person B's hold
- Person A throws Person B off of them.

And from there on out, we can block whatever we want in order for our scenes to make sense and for the right person to "win".

I went back to see it again today, because 1st-Year JaS had to go on as an understudy for Adam. (As in Adam of "Adam and Eve"... in a two person play.) It's the largest role that an understudy has had to go on for at our theatre in YEARS, so a bunch of us who had time went to support him. He totally rocked it, and made the Conservatory proud. Great job, JaS!

Another one of our "usual" games is a "switch places" game. We all stand in a circle, and one person makes eye contact with another, letting them know that they're going to take their place in the circle. The person starts walking, and the person they've made eye contact with has to find someone else's spot to take. The goal is that people are always moving, and that no one ever gets to anyone else's spot before they've found someone to switch with. It might not sound complicated, but it really is, as you kind of have to see a couple of moves ahead... And then the Director throws someone a tennis ball... And WHILE all the other trading spaces stuff is occurring, we have a second objective of throwing the ball around. So you're constantly looking around to see if someone is making eye contact with you, either to take your spot or to throw you a ball. We're getting better at it, but it does require a great deal of concentration.

We started blocking the Prologue, sort of. At the beginning of the play, a woman talks about her journey to work on the subway, so we're going to stage it as part of our production. We haven't gotten very far on it yet, but I'm interested to see what direction it goes in.


Wednesday, February 3

We continued with our pushes, shoves, slaps, and punches.

We also started working on kicks (including groin kicks, which seem to be a real people pleaser), chokes, and contact punches (where you end up actually touching your partner... just in a safe, non-painful way).

We began getting the blocking for what will be the 2nd-years' exam fight. It's similar to the one that the current 3rd-years did last year, but it has some new moves in it. It'll be fun to work on. My partner is All-The-Way, and I think we're going to have a good time with it.

I went to the matinee performance of The Life of Galileo, because I wanted to see it again before it closes and this might have been my last chance (depending on what my Machinal schedule turns out to be like). It was sold out, so I ended up sitting on the stairs in the mezzanine.

I cannot remember if I mentioned, but I saw The Search for Eden: The Diaries of Adam and Eve last week at the matinee. The actors in it are both graduates of my conservatory, who are now married to each other, and they are also playing Jamie and Cathy in the Rep's production of The Last 5 Years right now. They do Eden some days, and L5Y on others, and to complicate it further, the husband is also in Galileo. Such demanding schedules! But they're totally pulling it off. I particularly liked the second act of Eden. They seemed really connected with each other in it.

The way rehearsal has been running lately is sort of like this.

- We start with the whole cast/class (clast?) sitting in chairs in a semi-circle, facing the Director and Stage Manager. We are sitting on the edge of the chairs, with our feet on the ground, and our hands resting on our legs, as though we're ready to jump to our feet at any second. (It's a Russian thing, apparently.)

- Director tells us to close our eyes. He claps once, and we internalize our circles of attention, trying to hear only sounds being created from within our own bodies. He claps twice, and our circle of attention widens, so that we're listening for any sounds in the room. He claps three times, and our circle of attention shifts to sounds made outside of the room and outside of the building.

- Sometimes then he asks us to extend an arm and draw a circle in the air, and tells us to try to see the circle, in a specific color. Once we can really "see" that circle, we are supposed to lift our other arm to draw another, and try to see BOTH circles. If we can get that, then we try for a third. (Honestly, it's really hard for me to do two circles... I've never tried the third)

- Director says to pick up our chairs and move around the room. The Clast takes a second to sense each other, and then attempts to stand up as one, turn to face our chairs as one, lift up our chairs as one, and begin walking as one. Then we have to try to "fill the space", while not walking into each other, and "find a tempo", meaning that we all have to be moving at roughly the same speed.

- Director claps, and we all stop wherever we are. Then we try to put down our chairs as one, and sit in our chairs as one.

- As soon as we're seated, someone says "A", someone else says "B", someone else says "C", and soforth. We have to try to sense when someone in the room is going to speak a letter so that no two people are speaking at the same time. If two people do, then we have to start over at "A" again. We try to remember our letters, as sometimes we then play a game with them in which we have to spell a sentence by clapping whenever our letters come up in the sentence, and collectively hitting our laps whenever there's a space.

We do other, different exercises depending on the day. Today they included:

- We put up a wall (it's a black hinged flat). One person stands on each side of the wall. The person on one side is the "initiator". They have to take a position and an action, and then call the person on the other side of the wall. The "follower" has to try to sense what the initiator's position is and mimic it while saying their name. (Way easier said than done.)

- Repeat the Rhythm - . Sometimes it's that one person makes a rhythm and then the class repeats it, with each person doing one clap. Then when the conductor person claps, we have to change the direction that the rhythm is going in our line of claps

- Add to the Rhythm - One person starts a basic rhythm with their hands (clapping or snapping). One by one around the circle, everyone finds a way to contribute to the rhythm using their hands. Then we add to it one by one with our feet, and finally we add to it one by one with our voices.

- Choreographer - One person stands at the front of the group and dances to a piece of music in a way that they think everyone can follow. Today was my day to be choreographer, and as soon as I got up, my classmates made jokes like "No back bends!", and asked me not to do certain things that are in my movement vocabulary that are not in theirs. But no worries. I know my class really well, and I know what they will and won't be able to handle. The Director played "Back in the USSR" by the Beatles, so I choreographed to that. I had a blast, and a couple of them told me after that they had fun following me, so I think I did an okay job. :)

We started blocking Scene 4, which is the hospital scene. In it, Newbie has just given birth, Iceman is her husband who is trying to cheer her up to no avail, I am the Nurse, and Big Show is the Doctor who thinks I'm incompetent.

I really like the way the scene is going. I'm almost hesitant to write about it on here, because I don't want to ruin anything for the people reading this who might end up seeing the show... But anyway. I like it, and I was happy to get a chance to work.


Tuesday, February 2

Robert, our awesome combat instructor, is back for the week. :)

The 1st-years and 2nd-years are in the workshop together. The 2nd-years will have our actor-combatant recognition exams on Sunday.

Today, we just did some basic things: pushes, shoves, slaps, punches, and blocks.

The hardest thing for me in stage combat is keeping my legs bent and my center of gravity low.

I was having trouble remembering that in punches, you have to lead with the soft knuckles, until Newbie reminded me of something we discussed last year: when you punch (you're aiming toward the invisible parrots on your partner's shoulders; Roy on the right, Larry on the left), imagine that you're holding the handle of a beer mug, and you don't want to spill your beer. In other words, your fist is vertical. It helped a lot.

The Director said something today at the beginning of rehearsal that I liked. He said that in order to prevent a depressing play from becoming a depressing night of theatre, we as artists have to come at it with a sense of playfulness.

We're blocking the first of my scenes tomorrow. I'm going to try to be as playful as possible.