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

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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.

Acting Workout: When can I “do” something?

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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.

Us and Them

On the weekend I had the pleasure of seeing “Us and Them,” an interactive show up on by Headlines Theatre.

I as the show began watched the shadows dance under the glow of the sunlight (stage light). The harmonics tickled my ears with their delicate touches of perfections, it was a quiet beauty.

As the opening scenes unfolded I observed many things. When I began looking for differences, they grew to be great and many. I think we see what we want to see. When you look for differences they are infinite. I also saw consumerism get in the way. Quite literally, one character couldn’t see his path over his big screen TV. I see a social irony here….

Also apparent to me were the differences and perspectives in every situation. There is an inside to every window and a room behind each wall.

A large theme that the show presented was the modern differences in gender. Transgendered stigma was explored. It is something that I have only been part of dialogue on recently and I am still learning about issues and challenges faced by transgendered people. This is an area where I am fairly ignorant. Man… Woman… can’t we just be people? I am curious if these issues would exist outside of North American culture.

“We never know what we do.”

– DAVID DIAMOND

Is too much equal to nothing at all?

After the play we engaged in a DIALOGUE. In a dialogue, we suspend judgement and listen to others, even those with whom we don’t agree. This dialogue was centered around hot to build bridges, tear down walls, and stopping putting them up in the first place. The community in the room looked for access points to create these new outcomes.

“Is the wall inside yourself?”

– DAVID DIAMOND

I was left with these conclusions. Laughter, silliness and acknowledgements are the ANSWER TO EVERYTHING. I want to be a celebrator of differences and an empowering force of change in the world : )

US AND THEM runs until Saturday, November 12th. Shows are at 8PM at The Cultch. Dooo it!

US & THEM: the inquiry

 

You’re invited to…

US & THEM: the inquiry.

A THEATRE FOR LIVING WORKSHOP (hosted by Jenni Rempel)

Monday, March 21st at 5:30PM

SFU Burnaby, Room BLU 10021.


WHY DO PEOPLE…

+ Hoard food or money?

+ Over consume with no regard for others or the planet?

+ Racially profile?

+ Witness hardship and even atrocity and not reach out?

+ Plan and carry out the annihilation of cultural or ethnic groups?

+ Pollute someone else’s “back yard”?

+ Drop (so many different kinds of) bombs on people?

+ Turn a blind eye, a deaf ear?


What makes all these, and so many other ways that we compromise the planet’s and humanity’s well-being, possible? The creation, over and over, of “the other”: the creation of the “them” in “us and them”.
If global warming teaches us anything, it must be that on this tiny, fragile blue speck hanging in the middle of a vast nothingness, there is nowhere to go. Inside this reality in which humanity lives, who are “they”? A new revolution is required on the planet. Somehow, we must find a way to let go of our mechanistic need for certainty – our need to know that “we” are right and entitled and therefore “they” must be wrong and not entitled.  We must find a way to relax into the certainty of UNcertainty – to know that in whatever geography, whatever politic, whatever context, there is no certain “them”; there is only an ever-evolving us.


WHAT IS “THEATRE FOR LIVING”?

Theatre for Living has evolved from Augusto Boal’s “Theatre of the Oppressed”. Humans think in metaphor. Theatre is a metaphoric language. Combining this with the immediacy of flesh and blood authentic stories makes theatre a very powerful medium for self-reflection and transformation. Us and Them hopes to live in a territory of what John Paul Lederach calls constructive social change. He defines this in his book The Moral Imagination as:

“…the pursuit of moving relationships from those defined by fear, mutual recrimination, and violence toward those characterized by love, mutual respect, and proactive engagement. Constructive social change seeks to change the flow of human interaction in social conflict from cycles of destructive relational violence toward cycles of relational dignity and respectful engagement.”

In this workshop we will use a technique called The Rainbow of Fear and Desire to explore many impluses present in a single conflict. Workshop participants may be directly involved in the action by performing or may choose to observe and be indirectly involved.

ABOUT THE HOST…

Jenni Rempel is certified by Headlines Theatre, after having completed the Rainbow of Desire Group Workshop Facilitator Training. She comes with a background in leadership, training and over 10 years of theatrical performance and directing experience. She is an SFU Student studying Interactive Art + Technology and Communications.

 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson Book Cover

I finished reading John Green’s new collaboration with David Levithan, “Will Grayson, Will Grayson”. What an excellent book. It was really an entertainment novel and by that I mean that It reads much like a movie or TV show. I found myself laughing out loud (actually) several times. In fact, I think the David Levithan bits were a bit funnier than the John Green bits. I’ll have to check out his other books. I laughed and got teary eyed a little at times, it was very well done. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending… I think I was expecting some sort of closure (an epilogue maybe?).

“it’s like, you know how sometimes you see a really sexy baby? wait…”

If you like musical theatre, emo kids, or relationships i’m sure you will enjoy this book!

Endnote: This guy reminds me the slightest bit of Tiny Cooper. Just putting that out there.