why we wait so long before we do scene work...

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ACTORS INVESTIGATING, UNCOVERING, TRUSTING, CREATING!

That’s what happened in class tonight through the Hagen Exercises #7 and #10 as actors trusted that their thoughts,  images, would create full, active life within still silent physicality; actors stepped into the circumstances of the text, accent, socio-economic class, physicality, relationship, want, obstacle and most importantly, action, in creating HATTIE from the play LAUNDRY & BOURBON.

And after a year of intensive study, a year of weekly presentations of Exercise after Exercise, after forging through the challenge, the frustration, of repeating their work again, and again, and again, till there is, finally, deep understanding of the true cause of true behavior: THOUGHT, now, they get to play. Now they work on scenes and monologues. Now, after a year, they finally address text. Why? Why wait so long, when so many other processes, classes, thrust a script into actors’ hands on day one? [...]

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“…there’s nothing interesting about ‘nothing’…”

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Because of the intense intimacy of the camera, acting, that is, the behavior an actor creates in reaction to the circumstances of the text, is focused on in a way almost no human would experience with another, i.e., the ECU of questioning eyes, the quiver of lips, the cascade of tears on a cheek. You’d have to be a family member, lover, or fellow soldier in a fox hole to be that close to someone to experience such revelations. But, those are the common currency of acting for the camera. And in my opinion, they have become the overused fall back tools that in the wrong creative hands border on being cliche, trite, hackneyed and predictable. That overuse has resulted in the belief and even the education of, or as I see it, indoctrination of, new generations of ‘feelers’, rather than actors. I see it in my classes: students who ‘show’ me what they are feeling when so far nothing has really even happened in the scene yet, students who under analyze the cause of what they say and over analyze the way they say it, students who in the moment of conflict draw all attention to themselves which unknowingly draws the scene to a dead halt. [...]

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“Harrumphing”, “Sighing”, “Rolling eyes”, “Gulping”, “Jaw Clenching”, “Looking away dramatically”…?

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In the process of performance one must create the character’s psychological/physical realities. “Harrumphing”, “Sighing”, “Rolling eyes”, “Gulping”, “Jaw Clenching”, “Looking away dramatically” are NOT REALITIES! They aren’t even acting! They are fake, artificial, mannered posing. That’s modeling with words! Those are result compromises made by the director trying to get the shot as quickly as possible as they work with untrained actors. It’s a lose/lose proposition. And it’s an ever descending spiral into vulgar pandering. [...]

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