Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Acting Workshop, Day One

My apologies for writing this a few days late, friends. But I Have had many writing projects going of late, and this one got bumped a few times.

As I said in a previous post, I am currently enrolled in an 8 week adult acting intensive with Pat Diamond, director of the Yale Summer Drama Program.

I think the fairest way to go about blogging my thoughts on this is to take each session one at a time. That may seem obvious, but I mean that I don't think it would be right or practical to try to ascertain my thought son the whole program. I'd rather share what I thought of any given night.

Monday was the opener. Like many openings of anything I was not 100% at ease. I knew a few people there, thank the heavens, but most people I did not know. Some had little or no acting experience. (Which surprised me, as I thought the workshop would attracted mostly experienced actors.)

Mr. Diamond is a nice man, and clearly knows about theatre. I did like some of his philosophies about approaching a play or a character. However, very little of our first session was spent actually talking. Most of the time was spend playing games and doing exercises.

The games were designed to exercise, if you will, the various parts of the brain that also must be honed to be a successful actor. As I said, I agreed with most of what the instructor said an actor needed to be able to master. However, for my particular brain pattern, I do not think I got much from the games. I did not enjoy them after a while.

The games were in many ways a challenge. They involved staying calm, being in the moment, concentrating, memory, and doing multiple things at once.

Sound like a certain craft we all know and love?

And yet for me, such games tend to fluster me. I get tense when I play such games, and often give myself a headache. That was the case on Monday, and in one of the few comments I made to the class, (I often don't say much in such circumstances), I mentioned that I was having a problem with the activities because they lacked context in my mind.

Not that they lacked merit, but for me, I need a theatrical purpose towards which I can strive in order to bring out my skills. Juggling three mental tasks at once just for the sake of doing so, or for the sake of building mental muscle is not something on which I thrive. And my lack luster performance in the mind games proved that point. Which in turn led me to feel less connected and less involved to the group, not more so.

Confusion entertains some people. It does not entertain me, and I found myself confused by the games more often than not. I prefer discussions of character and scene. Breaking down what an individual actor should do, or is trying to do. I am a very verbal acting student in some ways. But Monday was not a very verbal evening.

Overall then, I would say Monday was a case of getting acquainted with new people, which is never easy, while compounded by being put on the spot with games of this kind, which made it even less easy.

Next week holds promise for interesting things, as we have all been asked to bring an object small enough to fit in our hands. Something that holds value to us. I already know what I am bringing. But you, as well as the class, will have to wait until next week to find out.

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