Acting Workout 2: How Do I Act??? What is Acting???

Image

It’s nights like this I question why I am doing this. And why I am not doing this. In some ways, performing and creating are what keeps me alive. Every time something bad happening to me or I have to overcome a challenge I think to myself, it’s okay because this is great songwriting material, or this will give me more to draw on as an actor. Sometimes though, the process of channeling those things is very difficult.

 

Tonight I was playing a character who had just experienced a breakup and was crying. At first I got really caught up on the crying and just wanting to make myself cry. Then I let that go and worked more on trying to achieve my objective in the scene. I was trying to bring my own life experiences in to channel the required emotions within myself but I couldn’t connect the two. It wasn’t like I didn’t have ample things to draw on, or that I didn’t understand what the character was going through.. but I could not bring those emotions into my body within the scene. I felt like I needed to sit there for hours preparing myself to have the intensity and emotions required. I tried getting ready on the train before coming to class but when I got in the room I was overcome with the desire to be social and talk with the class as we waited to get started. I also noticed that as the scene was going I would yawn every time I felt like some emotion was going to come through me. It was like my body was working against me…

 

I remember when I was a kid I was THE BEST at crying on cue. I could cry anytime. I used to play the game “graveyard” at daycare, where someone walks around tries to make everyone laugh… and I would always end the game weeping. I was a fairly lonely kid and didn’t really fit in with most groups (or at least this is how I remember it) so I would draw on that, but mainly I would remember scenes from movies that made me sad. I used to think of this scene from the Grinch where he looks really lonely and everyone is mean to him and I would cry every time….

 

 

I even considered calling my boyfriend and asking him to pretend to break up with me, or having a friend yell at me… Or finding a friend and asking the specifically to be really mean to me when I ask.. or getting into an argument with a stranger. How do I

I feel like I should invent my own method that works for me, but then people have been acting for centuries – why do I not just follow their training? All of the Grotowski and body training from my classes at SFU finally started to make sense… being aware of my body and how I am being… accessing my emotions… the effects that posture and position have on my emotional life… I finally started to get it… but when I think of the possibility of doing that for a year and a half I dread the idea. I don’t think I could handle being in this hard, tired, yawning place for that long. Where is the play? The make-believe?

I know that acting is an important part of my life but I am not sure how I want it to fit into my career and world.

Advertisements

Acting Workout: When can I “do” something?

Image

Today I had my first acting class downtown with Dolores Drake. I am in her class called “The Professional Acting Workout”. I got to be downtown at night which I love, but not the late kind of night (though I got to do that too) but the sunset time of night. The twilight. When the orange (the pretty kind, not like the CMYK kind) kissed the pavilions and the streetlights and the building’s edges.

I learned so much and I really had a positive experience! So many questions and answers.

 I was wondering about how to know when you “can do” something. For example, an accent. Or a special skill. Like playing guitar. When am I competent enough and proficient enough and confident enough to put something on my resume. I suppose I could think of acting as similar to other types of jobs this way. If I don’t want to be hired for 3D Modeling, then I won’t put it on my resumé. If I don’t feel comfortable playing clarinet for a casting director, I probably shouldn’t advertise that either. My teacher brought up some good point too about getting feedback and confidence. Do [insert skill here] for people and if your peers, friends, classmates, teachers, etc. compliment you on your work, then it is something you should promote. Do you believe yourself and feel confident?

COMEDIC SIDE NOTE:

That reminds me… during the winter break this year I went on the trip to Whistler with some friends and for some reason (I can’t recall if this was before or after the alcohol but neither would surprise me) I spent a large portion of the evening pretending to be Australian (because SO MANY people we met up there were from down under). I went to a cafe with an accent (where the owners were legit Australian), I bought lift passes, I went to a bar… I drank more alcohol. LOL.

I got to read three parts today in class:

  1. A short bit from Brent Butt’s CBC show “Hiccups”
  2. A scene from a TV movie where I worked at an eyeglass store.
  3. I am now working on the role of “Lynda” from Savage in Limbo by John Patrick Shanley

I really enjoyed the class for a few reasons. Everyone is very talented. People are working. One of the guys from the last class I attended was in a commercial I saw on TV  recently! Cool! (I still get a bit starstruck : P).

Also, I really like working with Film and Television material. I was reflecting on my time so far in the SFU Theatre Program and I noticed that often with self-directed scenes from plays I couldn’t “figure it out”. What does this line mean? How do we make the scene interesting? I needed a director or outside eye to help me put things together. Perhaps it is because of all the short film work I have done from a Director and DOP standpoint, but I really “got” the scene today. There were a couple times when the rest of the class was confused but I “got” it. That felt good, to be in on the joke. To understand.

I started to see myself in roles while rehearsing in class today. This has been a struggle with me in my ongoing journey wondering if/how I should pursue acting. I am a character. I fit into role. THAT COULD BE ME.

Overall, beautiful, wonderful day. Job well done. Mission accomplished. YES.

Monologue Madness: Long Monologues (5 minutes and over)

In January 2010, the big 'W' sign was put back in place atop the newly renovated original 1903 Woodward's Building on Hastings and Abbott street

There have been so many changes and exciting things in my life recently I have not had time to write about all of them… or even most of them! One of amazing things that made me jump up and down and hop around my hotel room (I was in Indiana for my sister’s graduation from nursing school when I found out) was being accepted into the BFA Theatre Performance program at SFU! I have decided to try and finish two degrees (my previous joint major between Interactive Arts + Technology and Communications and now the Theatre Performance major in addition). Bam! It will be fun. Anywho… in my acceptance letter for the program I was also given my first assignment. I need to come into class on the first day with a 5 minute monologue memorized. No big deal right?

At first I was excited and then I began to see how challenging it is to find a monologue of that length from a published play. Phew! Luckily I have some great mentors who gave me some suggestions. I read ALL of these plays before I finally decided on a excerpt from Adult Child/Dead Child by Claire Dowie. I wanted to publish this list to help others who may be looking for long pieces of text. Break a leg!

Long Female Monologues:

  • Autobahn by Neil LaBute
  • Problem Child by George F. Walker
  • Five Women Wearing the Same Dress by Alan Ball
  • The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute
  • The Occupation of Heather Rose by Wendy Lill
  • Theresa’s Creed by Michael Cook
  • The Weir by Conor McPherson
  • Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill
  • Lion in the Street by Judith Thompson
  • The Russian Play by Hannah Moscovitch
  • USSR by Hannah Moscovitch
  • My Pyramids by Judith Thompson (in Palace of the End)
  • Instruments of Yearning by Judith Thompson (in Palace of the End)
  • Body and Soul (in Palace of the End)
  • Faith Healer by Brian Friel
  • Medea Redux by Neil Labute
  • Homebody/Kabul by Tony Kushner
  • Dying to be Thin by Linda Carson
  • Adult Child/Dead Child by Claire Dowie

Long Male Monologues:

  • Billy Bishop Goes to War by John Gray with Eric Peterson
  • Lion in the Street by Judith Thompson
  • Harrowdown Hill by Judith Thompson (in Palace of the End)
  • Faith Healer by Brian Friel
  • IIphigenia inOrem by Neil Labute

Further Reading: What I meant was by Craig Lucas (might have something, didn’t get to this one)

Special Thanks to Patti Allan (and all her awesome friends at Bard on the Beach which you should totally go see btw), Deborah Solberg from Theatrix Youtheatre and Dolores Drake for their contributions to this list. I could not have done this without their suggestions and insight.

I LOVED The Idiot at #PUSHFestival

All photos courtesy of PuSh Festival.

All photos courtesy of PuSh Festival.

I am so excited and inspired at this present moment! I saw the most amazing play today with my acting class! My teacher, Patti Allan, was in a theatrical adaptation of the novel “The Idiot” by Fyodor Dostoevsky at the Vancouver PUSH Festival. It was dark but bright, witty and clever, sarcastic and all to serious, kind and honest, true, musical, BEAUTIFUL! I loved all of it. Oh and over three hours long in true SFU Fashion : P

Here are some things that I loved!

FOG! YES FOG!

FOG + LIGHT! SO PRETTY

 (to the Russian) “Not the least bit rusty” (it was a pun)

“I like laughing at you”

“It’s a beautiful day, made all the more pleasant in the climate of you.”

“He wondered how long life would feel if he didn’t die at all”

“I’ve talked way too much but it’s because I liked you all immediately”

“Fuck Switzerland! … Fuck her too!” LOL

Light creating rooms on stage! Beautiful blocking!

“What is the worst thing you have ever done?”

IDEA: It would be cool to have a play where the audience leaves their phones on and everyone makes a group song with ringtones.. or maybe everyone has to ask someone to call them when intermission is supposed to start to signify that. Hmm!

(of death) “Please accept my condolences.”

BODONI! I appreciate the use of Bodoni. (font nerd much? haha < 3)

The stage reminded me of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cyb6TN7Yyxk

and this:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jP6SNuII1kI

I also enjoyed the use of the word “fuck”.

The look of branches silhouetted in the light.

“Sometimes if you’re farfetched people fall for it.”

Whenever a character did something I thought was strange I was like OH, their just Russian. It’s okay! haha! And I really want to get in touch with my Russian roots now!

“You don’t need to thank us.” … “I’m not, i’m admiring you.”

“I BELIEVE WE HAVE THE POWER IN EACH OF US TO BE HAPPY. AND WHEN YOU WALK BY A TREE HOW CAN YOU NOT BE? AND WHEN YOU TALK TO ANOTHER MAN? OR A SUNSET. OR THE EYES OF A CHILD.” *collapses dramatically*

I highly recommend the show! Ir is playing at the Freddy Wood Theatre at UBC. Tomorrows the last show so go check it out! http://pushfestival.ca/

See you on a train to St.Petersburg.

Love!

Jenni

PS: I looked up the author and just posted a bunch of his quotes on my TUMBLR : )

How do you measure a year in the life?

RENT Poster, designed by moi.

Last week I was in a production on RENT with Theatrix Youtheatre Society at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam. It was AMAZING and I sumed it up on facebook by saying…

the past 525,600 minutes have been so wonderful and amazing. I’m so glad I could come full circle with RENT and i’m so grateful for all the amazing people and experiences I have had : ) MEASURE IN LOVE.

I’m still in shock that I got through it all. Last Monday I was really stressed out. I was thinking, How am I going to do this? What am I going to eat? Where will I stay? How will I manage work and school and the show? Show week is always crazy. I would go to work in the morning, then go straight to the theatre after (one day I even had a class in between which i had to rush through). It is really crazy but really rewarding and fun.

There were so many awesome people in the show. Some oldies, and some new people but I learned something from all of them and I’m so lucky to know this incredible group of human beings. I’ve been with Theatrix for 7 years now and most of my most memorable moments have occurred as a result of that. I am so grateful and lucky to have a family like this.

I was able to stick to my raw food cleanse (mostly… on Wednesday night I broke it the first time and then Sunday I think I had pretty much everything on their list of things with toxins, except meat and animal products that is… NICE). Sometimes we achieve the things we think are impossible. This was one of those times. When you have those times where everything feels impossible, remember that we’re all in this together. I’m so grateful for everyone who helped me through the week, from my excellent co-workers to my amazing castmates to my superb mamma. SNAPS FOR US. Come together, right?

This experience had so many similarities to where I was 12 months ago though, I couldn’t help but compare… I had two awesome adventures where I didn’t go home for several days (sleepovers FTW). I had good hangouts with friends. I ended up in many of the same locations as last year. I watched the sun rise from a mountain on Monday morning… Full circle. One of the things these similarities have taught me is how much I have grown in this time and everything I have learned in this past year.

Like Seasons of Love says I could measure my life in: report cards, contracts, dollars, truths learned, times cried, daylights, sunsets, midnights, cups of coffee, laughter, strife or numerous other things. When I really reflect on it though I think I measure in laughter, new experiences, memories, shows, hairstyles, and love.

What do you measure in?

Annie Design Process

I do some of the posters for Theatrix Youtheatre Society and this summer our line up includes Annie Jr. and RENT. Above is the final poster that I designed and below you can click to view the iterations that went into creating the final product. Working with clients can be challenging but in the end they push you in some way to improve your design skills.

The Annie Jr. Design Process

The Annie Jr. Design Process