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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 ...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Additive, not reductive ...

Tonight in class was kind of a building night, as we prepare for the Bohemian Theatre Troupe's next public showcase on September 25.

So, there was a lot of picking through scenes, figuring out the number of monologues versus two-, three-, and (yay!) four-person scenes, playing with some scenes and monologues, and a little performing.

So not a big work-y kind of night, but there was something that struck me on the acting process side of things.

I'm always looking for ways to set myself apart as a person, and not get stuck on those things that are part of my acting preparation. I have four different worksheets I do for character and scene / audition / monologue / stand-up work. I do a lot of prep for auditions and callbacks and on-set or on-mic work.

But I'm always looking for ways to keep that process, and at the same time simplify it.

Leave it to my coach to boil it down. He basically said an actor's choice should be additive, not reductive. For example, you're not taking away intelligence; you're "adding stupid".

(And my coach may have said it well, but I summarized it way better. And more concisely.)

The epiphany for me as an actor is the personal prep on which I often get stuck -- that knocks me back into my head, and out of the moment -- is the laundry list of stuff I've prepared. And tonight I realized it's usually the stuff I've "taken away" from the character.

As an example, I might hiccup in a moment, because Mr. Intellectual is intruding on my moment with a barely muffled, "Your character wouldn't do that!"

I get stuck on the "nots" in my preparation. I hit each of these things, and they're like speed bumps in my performance.

So, I need to flip those "nots" into additional attributes.

The other epiphany is this "additive, not reductive" mentality is an extension of the rules of improvisation: "Love your partner, and believe everything they say" (sometimes reduced to "yes, and ..."). And my acting is a partnership with myself, so I need to love me and believe everything I say ("Love your neighbor as yourself" means loving yourself).

This has the extra benefit of removing judgements from my character (I as my character do not acknowledge myself as the bad guy, or being less intelligent, or whatever).

I'm hoping tonight's little realizations flip my acting speed bumps to water wings. Or something.

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