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People, by nature, have some interesting things to say. Here are some of my things. Some about acting. All about living ...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Into the Abyss": My monologue ...

Sunday, the third day of last weekend's "Into the Abyss" acting / emotional deconstruction (I say, only half kidding) weekend, was the day we did monologues.

I had goals for doing my monologue. I had a lot of goals. I had intellectual and business and process things I wanted to do with the monologue, and then once I started, I wanted to forget all of it.

I feel fantastic about how it went, and here's a walk through of my process on this particular item.

I've decided I don't care about being careful or doing a good job or getting it right in class anymore. Class is where I can try things I've never tried before, and see if they work, or if they don't. Nothing that happens in class can take away from who I am, so I want to be daring and stretch myself and not give a damn if I fall on my face. I want to stretch, and I want to see what to hold onto and of what to let go.

  1. Make choices
  2. Rehearse monologue
  3. Stand up when ready
  4. Pick my focus
  5. Introduce myself
  6. Give my monologue
  7. Get feedback
  8. Give my monologue again
  9. Get feedback again

1. Make choices:

I'd done my homework, had it memorized, and knew my choices. I was going to do a relatively new monologue in a scary way. It's a dark piece ("Harold", from Glenn Altermann's 2 Minutes and Under: Character Monologues for Actors Volume 2). I was going to have two separate goals, and two ways of getting them at two different points during the monologues. At first, I wanted to sleep with the girl, and I was penitent and forgiving until I snapped on a phrase. Then I was going to attack her.

2. Rehearse monologue:

Dan Fauci broke us into groups of 3 and we practice our monologues together. I was resistant to this, because I haven't had great "actor-teaching-actor" experiences.

But because of the way Dan had structured the weekend (and without wanting to sound too hokey for folks who haven't experienced either "Leadership & Creativity" or "Into the Abyss"), we were in a whole new place of being able to see stuff in each other, give germane feedback, and be open to take it.

Because of how I do my process, I was the odd man out. I don't rehearse monologues or scenes now in the traditional sense. I bullet through text flat, with no inflection, or I do it slowly (still with no inflection). This is something I learned in voice over, and my current Meisner training has really enforced it.

I also paraphrased my monologue, and had a conversation with my fellow actors. I tried a "whisper exercise" from my Meisner coach.

But I never rehearsed the monologue the way I intended to do it. I didn't want to get a way of doing it stuck in my head.

And my "practice mates" (Corina Calderon and Stacey Glazer) were so supportive of and patient with my practicing my way. I'm grateful.

3. Stand up when ready:

I'm a "go first" kind of guy. So, throughout this weekend, I chose not to go first. I wanted to shove my preparation out of my head and just enjoy the amazing things being done by folks at the front of the room.

So I was nearly last. But when we got to the last handful of actors and no one was standing right away I launched myself over the first row and to the front of the room. I was so ready.

4. Pick my focus:

If I'm allowed, I like to give my monologue to a person, not the one-legged cyclops vying for my attention. I mean, she's hot and all, but ...

So I picked a fellow actor I met this weekend, Irish Petree, and asked, "My I talk with you?"

The language of the request --for me -- is really important. I was asking a favor, and acknowledging the favor she was hopefully going to do for me. And I was initiating a conversation I wanted to have with her. Which is different than trying to orate myself into greatness.

And Irish was a great listener. I've talked to vapid readers before. Not her. Again. Me. Grateful.

5. Introduce myself:

Van Brooks was running the camera. When he asked if I was ready, I said, "Yes", then looked at the feet of the tripod. From my top peripheral vision, I could see him give the "go" sign, and I looked up and, with smile and power, said,
"I am Adam Creighton. This is 'Harold', by Glenn Altermann."
No "Hi, my name is ...". No "I'm doing a piece from ...". Just an acknowledgement of who I am and what this is.

And the looking up keeps the look and smile new and fresh for the slate. I have no idea how any of this looks on camera. Seems to work for me as a person, though.

6. Give my monologue:

I'm a head up, shoulders back, chest out kind of guy. So I started the monologue head down, let all of the air out of my body, slumped my shoulders, and became that guy who desperately wants the girl, and is unsure if he even knows how.

And in my head I heard her words that pull me out of my self loathing and lead me into my first line:
"So, are you bitter?"
And confused, scared, sick, I started:

"Bitter? No. Resentful? Why should I be? I'm free ..."
I don't remember much after that. I remember the rage welling up as I hit the phrase I'd loaded it with ("No doubt about it, I'm definitely different."), and my intention change as I wanted to lunge across the tape line and grab this girl. And me not crossing that tape line. And not even knowing it was a tape line in the moment.

7. Get feedback:

And then applause. Long, generous, surprised, supportive applause from my coaches and fellow actors. And I stood there and took it, and was OK with it. It's hard for me to take acknowledgement, so that's a big deal.

And I knew Dan was going to give me feedback. But rather than turn directly to him after my monologue, I acknowledged my fellow actor's acknowledgement. How rude would it be for me to disregard their kindness?

And Dan gave feedback. And it was spot on. It was encouraging, and I took the notes. There are no negative notes. There are things that are working and things that aren't and how to fix them.

And he asked me to do it again. He asked me to use the rage and purpose from the end of my first run as the start of the second.

8. Give my monologue again:

So I started again, and I took notes from Dan and made corrections while doing the monologue. I never broke the monologue, I never acknowledged the notes outside of the monologue. But I acknowledged them through it.

9. Get feedback again:

Again, generous, generous feedback from my fellow actors and friends. And humbling acknowledgement from my film coach Van.

And additional feedback from Dan. It wasn't about being louder or angrier. It was about me not holding myself back.

Anything I did well is also about something else. A phrase my Meisner coach keeps using:
"You see how great they were? That's because of everyone that went before them."
True, dat ...

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