Saturday, June 18, 2011
First post of the summer.
Welcome to my blog! Thanks for reading. Sorry I have been late with getting this blog up and running. It has been a really busy week! I get up at seven every morning, hop on public transit by 8:15 so that I can get to ACT in time to warm up for the days work. Then I spend an average of 9-10 hours (with lunch and rehearsals) there at their studios before going home to unwind for a couple of hours. Then I collapse into bed and wake up to do it all again the next day. Now that I have the blog up and running, I will try to post on a more regular basis.
The program I'm doing at ACT can be described as nothing short of amazing. Every day I am having my limits pushed and my ideas about theatre and acting reformed. The idea of the program is that they don't teach anything avant-garde. It is very meat and potatoes, but there is so much meat and potatoes I have found I have to learn. As well as doing scene work with fellow actors at a very high level, I have the entire spectrum of my acting knowledge reworked throughout a week. Movement, breathing, posture, improv, clowning, voice, speech, audition technique, and acting craft are all visited in two hour sessions that can only be described as master-classes. The level of learning and speed of the process is high. It's a lot of information they throw at you at once.
Chris Herold, the fabulous director of the program, talked about this at our orientation. He explained that some things will hit us in the head, some in the heart, and some things will go completely over our heads. Then, thirty years from now, we'll wake up in the middle of the night and say, "So that's what that fucker was talking about!" Another of his theories he told us about is that actors are a combination of two things, an extreme paranoia and an extreme egotism. What the program tries to do is find a healthy way to balance these. He warned us that we can be our own worst enemies. If we try to reject what they teach, close ourselves off or become resistant to their ideas, it's going to be a long hard five to seven weeks. I have made it my goal to remain open, absorb as much as I can like a sponge. Instead of saying, "well I like this, I'll keep this, I don't like that I won't ever use it..." I try to take in everything. What I use will become apparent later on.
A typical day involves showing up in the morning, and then starting with either voice, a class on text and action, or something more textbook, like learning about the phonetic alphabet. ACT's school is a beautiful set up, ranging from the 6th to 9th floor of a building in the heart of downtown San Francisco. As well as having a lab theatre, they have an assortment of studio spaces on each floor, and they are all BEAUTIFUL!
The inside of one of the studios.
The view out the window of the same studio!
I frequently find myself chuckling at the universal elements of theatre spaces. Each studio has chairs, tables, platforms and blocks just like the lab in Withycomb. The only difference is that these spaces get turned into rehearsal rooms where an assortment of big name actors rehearse shows that get put on in one of the finest theaters on the west coast. I will continue to update this blog about what is going on in the program, the triumphs and the failures. Currently I am in rehearsal for two different scenes, one from "Waiting for Godot" which is really a short exercise in making blocking and action interesting, and then a longer scene where I play Hal from "Proof." Later I will describe a rehearsal technique called "Dropping in a scene" that our teacher had us use. Really changed the way I think about scene work.
I feel so lucky to be surrounded by all of my talented classmates. They all have a varying degree of experience but can all bring such warmth and talent to class every day. There are 17 of us in our company, and we all agree that after a week it feels like we have been friends for years. One guy has a cool bit of history that will interest any hardcore sci-fi film fans. His dad is the man on the table from this iconic scene in John Carpenter's The Thing (NSFW!)
That's right, his dad is Mr. Head Spider.
One more cool thing is that I have an unexpected roommate. I had thought of the idea earlier of asking my parents if we wanted to offer housing to an out-of-state student attending the program, since we have a couple extra bedrooms now. When I was waiting for my interview that first morning after getting off the train, there was a girl named Elicia waiting to go after me. She explained that she's from Utah and is currently staying at a hostel and has no living arrangement yet. I brought my mom over and we talked about setting something up, and now, we are roommates! She's a lot of fun and I'm happy to have someone else in the program around the house.
Here is an unflattering picture of me and a flattering one of her in front of the painted ladies. (We had a touristy San Francisco day for her benefit.)
That's all for today folks, I will blog again soon.