Posted on March 23rd, 2011


When experimenting with different objectives, you may want to consider the objective of the other person in the scene. A playwright has chosen a place in time because of its dramatic weight. And, what makes a scene dramatic is conflict. Therefore, in most cases, your character may want the opposite of what the other character in the scene wants. Sometimes, when it’s difficult to come up with a satisfying, playable objective for your character, it may be easier to look at the other character and ask what does he/she want? Then think about what would be the opposite of that. That may be a way to discover what your objective is.

Also, think about where the scene is in the play. The closer you are to the climax of the play (2/3rds to 3/4ths of the way through) the higher the stakes should be. Try using these lead-ins before your objective/verb: I want; I need; I must have. Or: I want him to; I need him to; I must get him to… With each lead-in the stakes become progressively higher. The 1st three, I like to call selfish objectives. The 2nd three, I like to call partner-focused objectives. Play around with these and get back to me. I’d love to hear how they work for you!

Posted on March 19th, 2011

SUCK LESS! (Can someone be irreverent, and smart and supportive at the same time?)

This is not my usual blog entry. I’ve been trying to indirectly share about acting issues and solutions, for beginner to advanced actors. (Advanced stuff has proven to be trickier to write about, so the blog seems to represent me as a beginner coach; I’ve been the “go to” person for a number of advanced working actors, so know, whoever you are: I can speak your language.)

Anyway, today I’ve got a marketing question for you, as I experiment with all sorts of ways of getting myself out there to you the actor! I recently, made up a postcard that suggests that working with me will make you “Suck less!” I’m quoting this really sweet woman I know, an actress; someone who you’d never expect to say something like that. It may be a little surprising out of context. But, let’s see if I get any calls for coaching from those cards. Those of you that know me well will probably appreciate the sense of humor, I hope! The intention (and I guess this is where the blog really starts!) is to bring attention to a big picture issue…

With so many variables in this business that are out of our control, what can we do –how can we make things happen in our careers? (This is something I learned to consider from Gary Garrison of the Dramatists' Guild.) There’s a lot of legwork to be done, whether you represent yourself or have the finest representation in the city. And, honestly, I don’t have a lot of answers for you there. I’ve seen my share of the ups and downs. But, I do know that you have to persevere. And, it’s wise to mix it up. Try different strategies occasionally. Try to be open-minded and listen to people on occasion. Trust your own instincts, but (when someone doesn’t sound like they’re giving advice that only they could benefit from), swallow your pride and take in people’s observations from time to time. Mostly, look for and go to as many those auditions as you can. However, the thing that is more in our hands than anything, is our own craft. The monologue that you’ve been using: Does it serve you? How does it serve you? Could it be better? Could it be fresher? Everyone needs an outside eye to look at all the work you’ve been doing and say, “These are the acting choices you should focus on” or “Have you consider other acting choices?” I’ve coached some really fine actors and they have all benefitted from my outside eye. This is where I start to sound like a used car salesman…! Well, you know where this is going. I love doing this coaching thing. I’ve been doing it for years and now I’m venturing toward doing it more often. So, let’s play. And, let’s all ‘suck less!’

Posted on March 2nd, 2011

1) Break your patterns. Reconnect with what you saying by breaking you vocal patterns. There’s actually two ways to do this. One, is where you explore all the different ways you can say a line and still stay true to your choices. The other, is to do it more arbitrarily. Really, just go up where you went down, speak quickly where you spoke slowly, etc. This'll shake things up, and keep you present and playing. If you've been doing a monologue for a long time or it's just hard for you to break the patterns; start early - right away.
2) Drop the accent/character voice for a go of it. Speak with your own natural voice for a go. Be your own bullshit meter here. You’ll immediately connect on a personal level. You’ll get a sense very quickly of where you hold your tension too.
3) Find a person in your own life that parallels the character that you’re speaking to. Insert that person’s name- liberally. All sorts of great stuff will be triggered. Try different, appropriate people to see what effect it has.
Don’t worry about being good or right. That actually should be kept in mind always when rehearsing! Don’t practice; rehearse. Re-hear, or hear it a different way. Keep it fresh!

Posted on February 20th, 2011

You’ve been told in the past that you need to see the character that you’re talking to. So, you imagine what he would look like. Hair, eyes, height... Good. So, you find that spot where he would be and you fix your eyes on it. Okay, now… let’s forget acting for a minute. Ask a friend a question that you know will lead him into a long story. And, then let him talk. How much does he look at you? Probably very little. Maybe only a surprising 15% of the time! Reference this behavior when you do your monologue. But, just to be sure you’re committed to the exercise, only look at your imaginary partner 10% of the time.
Where else do people look when they’re talking? The environment around them? Create an environment around you then. When someone tells a story and they're thinking back and remembering images, where do they look? Notice this when your friend is talking and thinking back. Reference this behavior when you do your monologue.
Once you've created an environment, make sure you stay facile with it. Don’t allow this imagined world to work against you. Use what’s really there in the room too. Remember, when you walk into an audition you may be in that room for the first time. Learn to quickly marry what’s really there in the audition studio with your imagined reality. A door is a door. A Window is a window. A table a table. Or, perhaps: a support beam is a tree. A piano is a boulder. A wall is a cliff.
Look at stuff.

Posted on February 14th, 2011

So, you're doing your monologue for me and as I watch and listen, I ask myself, "Is he really talking? Is he really sitting? Is he really standing? Is he really walking?" You've done all your homework. And, a lot of homework it is. Your brain is filled with all these obligations. You're trying to recreate all of the discoveries you made when you worked on it by yourself. Not to mention trying to remember the damn words! So, now what? Breath and relax. Take comfort in having an outside eye. You know it's impossible to not appear a little artificial here and there. Face it: you're acting! (Hopefully not shm-acting!) How can I help? Let's see what it's like to let go of character and all of those obligations and just simply work on one thing at a time. Let's start with talking. What's it like to really talk? Maybe this is the foundation to build on.

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