Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Yr2 Week 6 (Thurs 21 Nov - Producing and Directing workshop)

Today made for one of the more fun sessions I've had in a good while: today, we looked at how actors prepare for a role/performance. We quickly looked at how the methodology for the process has evolved, from the basic guidelines set our by Moscovite Constantin Stanislavski, who brought in the importance of psychological realism, and this method was brought over to America by people such as Lee Strasburg in the early 20th century, where it evolved into what is known as the 'American Method', popularised by the likes of Brando, Hoffman, Streep and many other during the mid to latter part of the century, which very much focused on the idea of really immersing oneself into the part and becoming the character (DeNiro famously became a cabbie for a while to prepare for Taxi Driver).

Elements involved when one prepares for a role include the following:
  • Reading through the script thoroughly
  • Find the character's 'Before Time'/backstory
  • What are their objectives/superobjective?
  • The actions the character takes (I kill, I eat, I berate, always in 1st person)
  • The character's spine, thoughts, body language and expressions
  • Costumes/props needed
  • Research, if the character has a set profession (chef, school teacher, geologist, athlete etc.)
  • Emotional Memory (channel your own relevant experiences into the character) & Sense memory (The taste, smell, feel etc. of a place/situation)
  • Inner obstacle (what is it that prevents the character from getting what they truly want)
With all that in our minds, we then split into groups of four, with two performing a scene from a play while the other two direct, to be staged later in class: I and Pat directed, while Andrew and Ineta were our actors, playing out a scene involving a dissatisfied young man and a pregnant girl in an apartment. We went out to an open space on the second floor of the Grove building, and we began to rehearse, going over the script once together before we began to build on it and get real emotion and energy out of our actors, making corrections to things like postures, expression, intensity of reaction and volume of voice as the situation changed and increased/decreased in drama and tension.

Though we did not get a chance to perform it due to limited time, I had a lot of fun with the exercise, and it really gave me a chance to flex my dramatic muscles in a good long while: I mostly focused on Ineta and getting her to have the right sort of behavior befitting a somewhat spoiled, self confident teenager on the run, while Pat worked more with Andrew, who was frankly living a miserable existence and feuded with his own father. She was very very open to suggestions and changes, which made my life easier as I could then tweak the performance as much as needed to make it work and not have to deal with ego or pomposity or sass from her.

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