Monday, June 11, 2012

New Techniques

Let's play some catch up:

Rehearsals have been busy for Shrew this week. We've moved into scene work, which means we're breaking down every scene and working on intention, delivery, character, and comedy. By the middle of this week we'll be ready for a run through! Of course, this really means that Director will have us start breaking the comedy down piece by piece in an even more minute fashion than what we cover in scene work, which I'm very excited about. Soon we'll be running the show on location!

There's such great moment work in this play already. When we have the time to sit around and say "How can I make this more funny?" we're going to have so much fun. The great news of the week is that we've found a new Lucentio! The other great news is that I'm almost off book. The best news, by far, though is that I'm having an absolute blast.

I've been able to play a lot this week, and as a result, a lot of funny things are happening. I adore the rehearsal process, because as an actor it gives you the freedom to try a lot of things. Specifically for this play, the cast bonded together so quickly, and every rehearsal has been like hanging out with friends. I get to have fight scenes, I've learned to crack a bullwhip, I dance, I chase butterflies, and we've all spent some good quality time getting to know one another.

On Friday we had a 'Company Workshop', which brought together the casts of Shrew and Henry VIII. It was a workshop covering physical technique, commedia dell'arte, and character work. When we broke down physical technique our instructors taught us the basics of Laban: a way and language for interpreting, describing, visualizing, and notating all ways of human movement.

Laban Breakdown:
There are a small group of words used to describe the everyday movements we make as humans. This small group covers the entirety of the movements we make. Ex. Flick, glide, punch, float, push etc. These are all measured in intensity and whether they are direct or indirect motions. 

By the end of the workshop we learned how to use these specific motions to create more specific characters during our rehearsal process. Does your character glide by leading with her nose in the air? Does he punch the words he says? The technique, while basic and easy to understand, can be very useful when stuck on a character. Ultimately, I felt like I'd learned this technique before in combination with other technique work I've done, but it was interesting to hear it broken down more specifically. I thought it sounded like common sense.

We also learned physical techniques about moving through the space. We practiced leading with different body parts, changing levels, and partner trust. We gave our weight over to partners and moved our bodies in interesting poses while sharing weight with our partners. We rehearsed some scenarios, such as the way you react when you see money on the street that no one has picked up yet, or the way your trip.

The last thing we covered was the different styles (in Shakespeare's time) of how to bow and curtsy. I was excited to learn these because I love to add proper period work to my resume. That always comes in handy.

I attended my film wrap party and was able to see a rough cut of the footage pieced together. It looked pretty darn good! It was incredibly hard to watch myself, and I was (though I shouldn't have been after so long) as always surprised by how short the film was after all the time that had been put into it. I was proud of the action and stunt work. I really can't wait to do more of it in the future.

I did start filming for my newest film yesterday. I went in for hair and make up at 8, and ended up in the chair for a good two hours. After the shots had been set up we started the work. My first scene I was carried into the room and set down in a 'time chair'. I had a good laugh at this because I spent the first day of my last movie being carried in and set on a bed. I'm getting to be a pro at this move!

I had a lot of fun. This film doesn't have much of a budget, and the directors are much more creative with how they obtain the shots they want because their equipment is more limited. It's really interesting to watch the different processes that film makers go through. I watched some playback, and all in all, had a great time being in the future for the day. I wore a full body black unitard that they made to look very much like the suits in Tron. Next time, the lines on it will be painted, but they hadn't had enough time yet to paint them before yesterday. That meant I spent the day fixing masking tape that was attached to my suit. Was this a constant and difficult endeavor? Surprisingly. Did it look good on film? Even more surprisingly. That's why they call it movie magic I suppose.

Three more Sunday's left of this film (four if we have reshoots), and then it's off to the Tacoma Film Festival if they can finish it in time.

With rehearsal six days a week, and filming on the seventh I'm turning into quite the busy bee. It's nice to be able to really focus on what I love doing.  My Friday acting lessons are running smoothly as well. I'm still working on Sexual Perversity, and now I'm learning a new Pygmalion monologue for an audition I have coming up in a couple weeks. Acting Coach has been covering a lot about comedic timing, and the technique of what makes people laugh (which is really just about giving them the opportunity to do so). In other words--I'm having a grand old time!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The song of purple summer

My summer has barely begun and already my schedule is full. It's such a relief! I hate having too much time on my hands, and I couldn't imagine a better way to spend my time--acting. It feels like things are finally falling into place. Instead of minimum space between projects, I'm falling from one to the next, and overlapping them. It feels really great to be bettering myself artistically after so long. I know I've been working consistently, but part of me felt like I was waiting for something. Now I'm starting to feel like I found it.

This is the only picture I have from last week
that doesn't give anything away.
I'm harnessed and preparing to jump!
Rehearsals for Shrew are ahead of schedule. We started blocking the show on Thursday and we have a mere two acts left before we start in on the serious scene work (there are five acts total). Right now I'm focusing on building my different characters since I'm portraying so many.

I spend a lot of rehearsal time watching the other actors work. I'm the least experienced in my cast, and it's so much fun for me to be a part of understanding the decisions they're making towards character work and comedy. Already the show is funny, so I can't wait to see how it ends up.

Every actor approaches Shakespeare so differently, and it's so interesting to watch a cast come together. We have to unify pronunciations of names and places. Director is wonderful about allowing us to play right now, so everyone is discovering what voices and physicality they want to use. Some are very strict in diction and others are given the freedom to mumble. I'm fascinated and sometimes distracted by the creativity of those around me. Ultimately, I have a lot of work left to do yet, but I'm excited to jump into scene work soon.

This show is incredibly physical. Not only will there be stage combat, but the blocking itself (especially since it's a park show) has a lot of physicality required. There are struggles, fights, and hilarious beating/throwing/rolling scenes. I'm excited because some of my characters get to be involved in these acts, which is just one more thing I get to learn this summer.

After looking over our newest tentative schedule it looks like we'll be performing in 11-12 parks this summer, each one a different terrain and size. You know how much I love a good challenge.

This summer is off to an amazing start. I'm feeling very fortunate to be working with so many talented people. On Saturday I drove down to Tacoma for a film 'audition'. I met the two directors and my fellow actor. They offered me the role and we spent a couple hours hashing out the plot holes and character discrepancies in the script they had written.

It's been a while since I've been involved in the creative process of a project in the beginning stages. I had forgotten how artistically inspiring it is to work from the ground up. The day I spent with them gave me some great insight to the characters I'll be portraying that I'm not sure I would have had otherwise. I was given the chance to help rewrite dialogue and discuss the emotional journey I'll be taking through the process.

This is a short film the directors are hoping to enter into the Tacoma Film Festival coming up in the fall. This means we're going to have a short shoot and a quick turn around time. It's a sci-fi/romance where I'll be playing two characters who look the same but live in alternate realities and time periods. I'm looking forward to trying something new: I get to speak a foreign language!

Because I've signed on for the film my schedule for the month of June is completely full. I'll have Shrew rehearsals Monday through Saturday, and I'll be filming on Sundays. After having such a great experience on my last film, I'm very excited to be moving forward in this medium. Granted, every experience will be different, but I'm enjoying the ride so far!

Coming up:
1. Working on a new comedy monologue for Acting this week. Sexual Perversity in Chicago by David Mamet. I need to brush up on my comedy for this summer, and Acting Coach wanted to help out. Ironically the monologue is directed towards children, so it's very natural for me since that's my day job.

2. A master class with Henry Woolf on Playing Pinter.  "In this three hour master class, actors will play with Pinter's text under the guidance of a true expert. Henry Woolf, British actor, theatre director, Master Teacher, and a longtime friend and collaborator of 2005 Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter, will lead actors through exercises focusing on enjoying playing Pinter."  Pinter is one of my favorite playwrights and I've done scene work of his before that  I've adored. He writes in a very specific style, and I jumped at the opportunity to join this workshop and learn from such a renown artist. There were only 14 spots available, and I feel lucky to have grabbed one.

3. Submitting to every audition that doesn't clash with my schedule for the summer. I've got to stay on my toes, after all.