Act or Die Notes #2

I read another quarter of the book today – out loud. As an aside, I never really noticed run-on sentences until I read aloud, then I was searching for periods so I could catch a breath. As I was reading I realized that I (like everyone else) subconsciously use grammar as cues to pause, breathe, emphasize etc. Which I found interesting. It makes sense, that is how grammar works, but you notice it much less when you’re reading silently, than when you’re trying to put volume to the words.
This section of the book was full of great exercises for allowing you to access yourself without judging. It’s sort of a recurring theme. Anyway, here are my notes from today and yesterday:

As an actor, research your character – in depth. Practice re-creating *a lot* because there will probably be more than one take. There’s a difference between repeating and re-creating. Re-creating is more interesting, do that.
As an actor listening is key – not just for cues, but listen to what’s going on in the scene, the subtext, the vibes. You need to think as the character, basically you need to be that person, what goes through the characters head is what’s running through your head. Acting does not stop at the end of your line, you need to continue to stay in character, have a continuous conversation (in your head) as that character even after your line is up – basically, just don’t be done all of a sudden.
Note the subtext – the unspoken things, the background, the what-just-happened and how-we-got-here parts of the scene/script. It adds interesting elements to an otherwise non-elemental script.Subtext non-verbally addresses what happened before the scene – either right before or in the distant past. The backgrounds come into play and also the need the character has for the future/moment influences how he/she will react/talk/live in that moment. Like meeting someone you have a crush on, or trying to be polite to someone who hurt you in the past. You might not say “oh this is tense!” but you feel it, and that’s  what needs to be conveyed in the subtext or feeling.
The biggest question is: Who are you as the character?Act without it looking like you’re acting. Do the research, ask yourself questions, never assumer you know the answer. You have to commit to the work, the character – you have to be that person, don’t ignore the minute details.
As an actor, don’t be consistent. Be human. Read/act with different perspectives – different parts of the character. Don’t classify characters as good guys, bad guys, heroes, or villains. Every villain is a hero – go places within you that make you uncomfortable and use that as a tool, a place to draw a perspective from.
Life experiences are your source material. Ask questions from the character’s point of view. What are the obstacles and how does the character deal with them?Think. Understand. Then Act. The character should be sort of second nature, you should unconsciously learn as the character and then your acting will seem natural.
Observe people, and how they act. Always demand more of yourself and dig deeper.
Use every part of yourself – don’t judge or repress the parts you think are “bad” and only use the pieces of yourself you deem “good”. Everything is material, you need to access it and use it – if it makes you uncomfortable that’s good. The energy of your thoughts/emotions will be caught on film.
Then, use this as the character – explore all sides of who the character is – the good, bad, strong, weak, scared, valiant. Because this is how people are. Everyone has conflicting sides of themselves, to act well, you need to use and channel those bits of yourself into the character – use those emotions and thoughts, and then your character will be real.

So I think the hardest thing, is not to put your acting self in a cage, and to know yourself and not hide from yourself, but channel it. Yet, it’s probably one of the most important elements, in order to appear legitimate and not like you’re “acting”. Way easier said than done, I’m sure but good advice nonetheless.


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