Sunday, August 28, 2011

ON ACTING: An Old Friend...'Objectives'

No matter what aspect of acting we might discuss; emotion, listening, style, text, and on and on, the smart actor never forgets to return to objectives...or aims, intentions, needs, goals, purposes.

Objectives create the energy fuel necessary in an exciting performance. The most we want something, the more the bodily system is energized to achieving that goal. The greater our needs, the more susceptible to emotion we become: the happier emotions, joy, relief, happiness follow the achievement of our goals; the troubling emotions, sadness, anger, frustration, despair, arise from our failure.

Actor requirements such as real listening occur because the other characters contain the possibility of our success; what they say to us is important to us, their words becoming the logical playing field through which we must  foray to achieve our goals.

Likewise we must really see the other characters' faces and bodies. We look carefully at them to see hints of whether they are aiding our goals, or impeding them. Likewise we 'read' their non-verbal reactions: can we discern whether we are we winning or losing? Others reactions contains the hints that give birth to our reactions...which are our subsequent subtle actions aimed toward achieving our goals.

Tied in to objectives, the text becomes emotional/verbal aspects of our thought/word processes all aimed toward convincing others to give us what we want (need) from satisfy our emotions in pursuit of our goals. Moreover, because of objectives,  we achieve acting style or elegance, a good actor's economy of effort, because in the long run a lack of energy is really unattractive profligacy, waste.

A performance without goals is like random pearls absent a necklace, doomed to roll around unfocused, shapeless, and ultimately de-energizing. The good actor knows that by stringing the beads of a performance together with purposeful activity--creating a unifying of actions by seeking a central goal--is the primary and unifying task of am interesting actor.

Good actors remember that all human life is organized around the central purpose of survival. A good acting performance should do no less.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

ON ACTING: The 'Exciting' Reality

The actor's first task is to create in performance a feeling reality, emotional truth, a living experience.

The actor's job does not stop there, however. The second task is to create on stage or on screen an exciting emotional reality; a reality that contains emotional intensity, variety and complexity, as well as disciplined structure and elegance.

That excitement factor is what separates the men from the boys, the women from the girls...the working professionals from the not-quite.

Being an actor who creates reality will get you the audition; but it is the ability to consistently create an exciting reality, in the terms spelled out above, is what gets you the callback and the part...and leads to a fulsome, 'pay-the-bills' career.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

FILM REVIEW: "Sarah's Key"

Exquisite! The film (in French with English sub-titles) is beautiful. profound, complex and startlingly true. Starring Kristin Scott Thomas and a beautiful child actress who still haunts my memory. It is the story of wartime (WWII) brutality, national betrayal, family, family secrets and the healing power of love and truth. It is complex, with shifting time perspectives and points-of-view, but clearly told. Ah, the French. The land of the novel. They understand the difference between complex and confusing, profound and profane, simple and simplistic. ""Sarah's Key" is all you would want in a nature, grown-up film. I kept thanking God an American hadn't made it for an American audience. Be prepared, however: the truth inherent in the film is unrelenting. It will test you, and it will tire you...but ultimately it will uplift you. Tragedy cleanses. I've always wondered why the French always look tired and drawn...perhaps, like this film, they see too clearly into the truth, the harsh meaninglessness of much of life. Yet they drink, they eat well, they make love obsessively...they consistently find meaning in the harshest of life's dilemmas. No, they don't find meaning...they impose it. Engage! Engage. Spit in death's face; smile in the void. Let laughter and love fill the universe's emptiness. The making of this film is a testament to that philosophical stance. See it. See it. See it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A Month Later

Where did the month go? You don't want to know. I don't want to know. But I am back...with more consistency. I hope.

For starters, let me brag on a couple of LA students of mine: Byron Yee and Josh Kelling. They are co-executive producers on a new film opening in various cities this week, LA and Chicago included,: "Bellflower." It is counter-culture, youth oriented film, low budget, wildly imaginative, with love, rejection, alienation and special effects at its core. It was an official selection at this year's Sundance festival.

Remember the title: "Bellflower." Please see it. Byron and Josh deserve the success.