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As the year comes to a close and I complete my last blog for 2015, I find myself reflecting on the year: the classes, workshops, productions, and other projects that all came to life at the Actors Workout Studio.
I’ve had a number of emails recently about acting students who are in a situation where they can’t be in a class for various reasons - whether it’s financial, location, or other, and want to do exercises to keep themselves in the work.
Actors constantly deal with rejection and their issues surrounding rejection. It seems to be a frequent topic of conversation among us. I have known numerous actors who left the business because, they say, they “Couldn’t take the rejection.”
I’ve had an interesting summer. A month ago I got a call from a director colleague on a Sunday morning who had to replace an actor in a play that would be opening the following Friday night. That would be in 5 days.
Last month's blog was about living truthfully in your characters’ every moment. I gave an example of an experience in one of my classes. Here's a continuation of that conversation.
In a recent class I had two actors on stage doing the Meisner Repetition Exercise. If you’re not familiar with “Repetitions,” it’s an exercise in listening, reacting, and working off the other actor, as you repeat your partner’s behavior and they repeat it back to you again. (That’s a quick and simple description of repetitions. I assume most of you reading this are already familiar with the exercise. If not, don’t worry, as I’ll be addressing this in a later blog.) These two actors were on stage for about three minutes, and they shared great chemistry. When they finished I asked them this:
Several actors in class this week inspired me as they participated in the “Hot Seat” exercise – that’s where actors keep themselves accountable by checking in about how they feel and what they’ve been up to; it’s also a way in for me as a coach. The serendipity I felt recalling some of their comments thrilled me, because they were right in line with the topic of this month’s blog.
Happy New Year! If you’ve been following my blogs you might remember that last year at the beginning of the year I spent some time (3 parts) talking about the business of being an actor. It included goal setting, making an action list, and structuring some sort of accountability. Well, it’s a year later and I am going to repeat myself. Why? Because it is so important to remember the fact that you are a business, you are self employed and, like it or not, an entrepreneur.
Well it’s December, the end of the year and a time to wind down 2014. A time to celebrate, and for many actors - take a break, visit family, and replenish. I think it’s a good opportunity to “marinate”, contemplate, vision, or simply step back and take inventory. We say at The Actors Workout Studio that we are in the business of “transforming actor’s lives, one at a time”. We believe in the “whole artist”, not only the skills, craft, and business of the actor, but “who each actor is”.
I give this lecture in my class every year as the holidays approach, and we spend quite a bit of time talking about and working with this topic. I’ll share a bit of it here. As we all know, a good acting class should challenge you, open you up, and get you in touch with your emotional life. It’s the process of unraveling yourself to be raw, present, vulnerable, and exposed. That’s what the acting instrument is - a present, vulnerable, affected being, raw with truth. Our work is to get in touch with and master our emotions, so we can utilize, not be victimized, by them.
In September, I started a new beginner’s acting class, which I hold three times a year - September, January, and April. I love this class, filled with all kinds of interesting people, from all walks of life. Many (most) are pursuing acting and want to get solid, professional training. Others want to “test the waters” and see if they have talent, or perhaps have been away from acting for a while and feel rusty. Often I get an actor’s spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend, who wants to understand the process and see what actors do and go through. Or, maybe a writer or director wanting to better understand and speak the language of acting. Sometimes it’s a sales person, lawyer, or someone who simply wants to be more expressive in their own life, come out of their shell, and explore themselves. It’s a great opportunity to explore acting, get in touch with your emotions, and discover your creative side.
When actors act, they are in the business of creating chemistry, creating a relationship, and making it believable. Say you are playing a romantic relationship (which happens often), and you need to create chemistry with your partner. Sometimes you might just meet them for the first time that morning on set. What if your role is that you’ve been married for 10 years? That relationship needs chemistry and history. You need to make choices and create specifics.