1 WARM-UP Table of Contents: ** The Purpose of a Warm-Up ** ** Relaxation ** ** Vocal Warm-Up ** ** Physical Warm-Up ** ** Focusing the Mind ** ** Communicating With Others ** ** The Purpose of a Warm-up ** 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. To relax and relieve any Tension. To prepare the voice for speaking. To prepare the body for moving. To get creativity flowing. To focus your mind on the task. To communicate with others. ** Relaxation ** Most people experience mental and physical tension and have come to accept this tension as a part of their natural condition. As people age, tension accumulates and we forget how it is to feel relaxed. Tension produces undue fatigue, breaks down concentration ability, and makes it difficult to maintain a patient and calm exterior. Practicing relaxation, preferably at the same time every day, should be part of your Warm-up routine. Relaxation Exercise 1. Lie down on your back with your arms lying loosely at your sides. Do a quick scan of your body and adjust any areas of discomfort. As you proceed with the exercise you may find your thoughts wandering. This is ok, just bring your thoughts back to the task and resume concentration. 2. Lie still and begin to concentrate on your feet. Try to feel the muscles in your feet release and relax. It may help to tighten them up and let go all at once. Imagine that they feel heavy, like lead weights. 3. Then concentrate on your calves. Tighten and release. Imagine their heaviness. 4. Continue this process on each major muscle group, moving up the body. Thighs, stomach, chest, arms, hands, shoulders, neck, and face. Each part relaxes completely and feels heavy. Imagine yourself sinking into the floor. 5. Imagine a bright light around your body. Think of a colour that energizes you, like white or yellow. Imagine that this is the energy in your body, filling every fiber of your being and it gets brighter and stronger as you concentrate on it. 6. Start to move a little bit, gently roll your head from side to side, flex your fingers, wiggle your toes. When you feel ready, sit up slowly, get onto your feet, and slowly roll your spine up to a full standing position. 7. As you continue with your activities, try to remember this feeling of relaxation. There should only be as much tension as is necessary to do the job at hand. If you feel tension creeping in, stop your activity and re-establish your relaxation with some deep breathing exercises. 2 Deep Breathing Exercise 1. Take a deep breath. Concentrate on feeling the expansion in the front of the body. Continue to breath in and out slowly, focusing on the smoothness of the action and the air filling the body cavities. Feel your muscles release their tension as you breath. 2. Start to focus on the breath as it fills your sides. Feel your body expanding on the left and the right. 3. Start to focus on the breath as it fills your back. If you have difficulty feeling the breath expanding through your back, bend down on your haunches, drawing your chest against your knees. In this position, you should be able to experience this sensation quite easily. 4. Begin to imagine a slow count as you breath. Keep the inhalation and exhalation smooth as you count. 5. Try to extend the length of your count. Inhale on a slow count from 1 to 5. Exhale on a slow count from 1 to 5. Increase the count gradually until you can inhale and exhale on a slow count from 1 to 10. You may not accomplish this the first time you do this exercise. Be patient and practice frequently. Your breathing control is very important when you're warming up and controlling the voice. ** Vocal Warm-Up ** A Vocal warm-up prepares the voice for speaking. You need to warm up the vocal chords just as you would warm up any other muscle in your body. They need to be ready for long duration of use and without proper vocal preparation, you can damage the chords. Vocal Exercises 1. 2. 3. Open your mouth as wide as you can and then scrunch it up as small as you can. Repeat as necessary. Keeping your lips loosely together, blow air through them so they flap together (I call this 'Horse Lips'). Stick out your tongue and roll it around. Reach up to your nose (or as close as you can), reach down to your chin, reach out to your left ear, reach out to your right ear. Take a deep breath and expel the air with a "sh" sound on an imaginary count from 1 to 5. Repeat as necessary. Repeat the exercise using a "soft z" sound Start with some deep breathing. Turn the breath into a sigh, expelling the air with a light sound. Keep the sound soft and relaxed. Repeat as necessary. Turn the sigh into a hum by closing the lips. Repeat as necessary. 4. Do a few tongue twisters. Focus on pronunciation and enunciation: 1. A big blue badly bleeding blister. 2. Rubber baby buggy bumpers. 3. A shifty snake selling snake skin slippers. 3 4. The gum glue grew glum. 5. Theophilus Thistle, the successful thistle sifter, in sifting a sieve full of unsifted thistles, thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb. Now if Theophilus Thistle, the successful thistle sifter, in sifting a sieve full of unsifted thistles, thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb, see that thou, in sifting a sieve full of unsifted thistles, thrust not three thousand thistles through the thick of thy thumb. Success to the successful thistle sifter. 6. What a to-do to die today at a minute or two to two A thing distinctly hard to say but harder still to do For they'll beat a tattoo at twenty to two with a rat-ta-ta, tat-ta-ta,tat-ta-ta, too And the dragon will come when he hears the drum At a minute or two to two today, at a minute or two to two. Practice reading aloud any material you want. ** Physical Warm-Up ** If you've ever taken an exercise class you probably know how to warm up your body. The general idea is to get the muscles moving and the blood flowing but not to do so much that you're exhausted by the end of it. Here's a short list of some of the things I like to do: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Basic stretches. Stretch out all major muscle groups. Jumping jacks or some other cardiovascular exercise. Rotate arms, rotate wrists, rotate ankles, rotate shoulders. Smack myself all over (it gets the blood moving in the skin). Shake out (go nuts). If there's a group of you, a physical game is a great way to warm up. Something like "TV Tag" (if you get tagged, you have to quickly say the name of a TV show or you're it) or a game called "This is my Nose" (where two players face each other. One points at their ear and shouts, "This is my nose!". The other player then points at their nose and shouts, "This is my foot!". The play continues as fast as possible until one of them makes a mistake, then another player can take their place). See the Reading List for more information. ** Focusing the Mind ** All the aforementioned exercises focus the mind and prepare you for your task. Here are a few other ideas to get your mind centered and your creativity flowing: Read through your script (you can never do this enough). Go over your notes from last rehearsal. Go over your blocking notes. Break down your script (see Script). Memorize lines. Review character motivation, obstacles, etc (see Character) I recommend doing these mind centering tasks by yourself. Involving the other actors can become a big socialization party and your focus will just be scattered. ** Communicating With Others ** Focusing the group energy is the last step of the warm up. Most Directors have their own method of focusing the group energy but if they don't, here are a few suggestions: The Name Game - if your group is newly formed, The Name Game is a great way to get everyone working together right away. Everyone sits in a circle. One person starts 4 the game by saying their name (first only, or both first and last if it's a small group). The next person in the circle says the first persons name and then their own. The next person in the circle says the first persons name, the second persons name and then their own. And so on down the line. Group Cheer - everyone stands in a tight huddle with their hands piled in the middle. Then just like a football cheer, you all shout, "hey, hey, hey, etc" until it's one great cacophonous noise. Group Pulse - everyone stands in a tight huddle with their arms around each other and bent over as low as they can go. They start to hum quietly. Increase the pitch and intensity of the hum while you all gradually stand erect. Eventually the sound becomes a great, open-mouthed roar. Group Choral Singing - sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" in a round. If your group knows other simple songs, you can try those too. There are a wide variety of warm-up and centering techniques. Eventually, you'll pick and choose the exercises that work best for you. CHARACTER Table of Contents: ** What is a Character? ** ** Character Movement ** ** Vocal Characterization ** ** Getting to Know Your Character ** ** What is a Character? ** Any attribute that defines a human being can define a character. For an actor, much of his/her character definition can be found in the script. Everything a character says tells the actor something - from the things that character thinks about, to their level of intelligence or education, their status in society, or how they feel. Character choices are made by each individual actor, which is why the same role can be interpreted many ways by different actors. Your choices are unlimited, and no choice is wrong (as long as it's not contradicted by the script). The choices you make for your character will make it realistic and interesting. Where do I start? Start with your script. The playwright generally includes character description on the first few pages. The writer may give you other clues such as the setting (if the play is set in an alley, your character may be homeless); the location (a play set in New York could give your character a Brooklyn accent); and the time period (a woman in 1812 would be remarkably different from a woman in 1998). As you read through the script, take note of specific statements made by your character or made about your character. For instance, if a character says that she's violently allergic to nuts then that might make her very upset when another character insists that she eat some. More on exploring the script information is provided in Script. ** Character Movement ** Since an audience can only know what they see and hear about a character, your physicality - including impairments, tics, and habits - are very important. Actors frequently overlook these traits which can easily make your character more interesting or funny. 5 Basic Movement Basic movement is body awareness through: SPACE Levels (low, medium or high) Directions (forward, backward, sideways) Near and far Close (e.g. curled up) and Apart (e.g. stretched out - wide or narrow) Direct (e.g. straight) and Indirect (e.g. twisted) WEIGHT - heavy or light. TIME - quick or slow. FLOW - continuous, arrested or bound. By mixing and matching the above movement definitions, you can describe any possible human action. The following eight verbs describe some resulting combinations. Consider developing a character who moves in one of these ways. THRUSTING FLOATING PUSHING SLASHING GLIDING WRINGING DABBING FLICKING Habits and Tics Most people have habits or tics that they're not even aware of. An example of a habit might be a person who regularly twirls a ring, bites their fingernails, or sucks on their hair. A tic is a spasmodic twitch that commonly appears when a person is nervous. If you're adding a habit or tick to your characterization, just be careful not to overuse it. Impairments Nobody's perfect so you might want to consider a physical impairment as a character choice. A limp, a crooked hand, a hip that pops out of joint, or weak eyesight are all interesting possibilities (especially if you used them all together!). ** Vocal Characterization ** Don't forget about the things the audience will HEAR from your character. Does the character speak slowly, quickly? Do they have a speech impediment? Do they stutter? Does the person have a regional accent? Do they enunciate clearly? Do they mispronounce words? What is their vocal quality - gravely, hoarse, squeaky, shrill? Would their voice be affected by anything that occurs during the play (like the morning after a wild party)? Does the person clear their throat frequently or make unusual sounds through their speech? There are specific techniques for developing body awareness. Body awareness allows you to learn about your own movement and vocal habits - habits that without awareness, may color every character you play. See Reading List for information on the Alexander and Feldenkrais Techniques. ** Getting to Know Your Character ** 6 Some Actors like to explore everything they could possibly know about their character. The more you know, the more precise your choices, and the more real the character will be to you and your audience. For instance, you can decide that you like dogs (a general choice) OR you can decide that you only like small dogs ( more specific) OR you can decide that you only like poodles (most specific). Often, an unusual choice will be the most interesting. For instance, you can play a pet shop owner who loves animals or you could play a pet shop owner who hates animals. The second choice is more unusual than the first. This kind of choice could be the difference between a very dry scene and a "rolling on the floor laughing out loud" scene!. Here's a list of questions to get you thinking about your character: 1. What is his/her name? 2. How old is he/she? 3. Does he or she appear handsome, pretty, ugly? What is the first impression one would get from them? 4. Does he or she have any abnormalities? 5. Does he/she get along well with others? 6. Does he/she accept responsibility? 7. Does he/she have any pets? 8. Does he/she have any hobbies? 9. Is he/she married and what kind of relationship is it? 10. How would this person react if they were the only witness to a murder? 11. Could he or she have any mental problems? 12. What facial expressions does he/she most frequently use? 13. Was he/she smart in school or at their place of work? 14. Would you consider this person "sporty"? 15. Would you consider this person to have traveled widely? 16. What kind of food does this person like most and why? 17. Does this person like music, and if so what kind of music in particular? 18. Does this person drink a lot of alcohol? 19. What do you think this person is like at home where nobody else can see him? 20. Does he/she believe in God? 21. In whose company was this person most likely to be seen? 22. What are this person's views on war? 23. Is this person in any way a musician? 24. Does this person buy cheap or expensive things? 25. What kind of colors would this person wear? 26. What does this person think of Holidays? How would they celebrate Christmas or Halloween? 27. What makes this person laugh? 28. Does this person have self-confidence? 29. Is this person clumsy? 30. Does this person brag? 31. Is he/she involved in politics? How would he/she vote? 32. Does this person get along with older/younger people? 33. Does this person speak well or poorly? 34. What would this person do if he/she was approached by a homeless person? 35. What kind of house/apartment/condo does this person live in? Does he/she rent or own? 36. What kind of magazines/books would this person read? 37. How would this person react if caught in a severe fire, storm, etc? 38. What is his/her favorite TV show and movie? 39. Does this person live alone? 40. What kind of furniture does this person have? 41. Does this person like animals? 42. What kind of temper does this person have? 43. Is this person easily embarrassed? What embarrasses them? 44. What is his/her favorite season? 45. Is this person superstitious? 46. What would make this person cry? 47. Would others consider this person "easy-going"? 7 Does this person express himself/herself freely? What would this person do if he/she won the lottery? What would he/she do for fun? What are his/her hobbies? Does he/she smoke? Cigarettes, cigars, pot? Does this person like snakes, spiders, lizards, cockroaches? What was this person like 5 years ago? Does this person like other people? What kind of weather does he/she like most and why? What would this person do if stranded on a desert island? What would this person take to occupy himself/herself? 57. What does this person do when they go out? Would he/she like going to a nightclub, lounge, karoke bar? 58. Does this person have a computer at home? Do they surf the internet, chat, play games? As you can see, there are many choices one can make. It's always tempting to play a part as if your character is the coolest and most perfect person (since we're rarely able to be so rehearsed in real life) but the uncool choices are often more interesting. Everybody has their own little quirks so let your character enjoy a few too! SCRIPT 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. Table of Contents: ** Breaking Down the Script ** ** Memorizing Lines ** ** Breaking Down the Script ** Part of the Actors job is to analyze the script and break it down into manageable parts. A great deal of your character study will happen during this procedure. Questions The five "W's" to ask about your character: WHO am I? WHERE am I? WHEN am I there? WHAT am I DOING? WHY am I doing it? The answers to these questions are always stated or implied in the dialogue or given in the stage directions. Objectives and Obstacles Once you've asked the "what am I doing" and "why am I doing it" questions, you're already working on finding your objectives. What does the character want to achieve as a result of their actions? You can have many objectives (major and minor) throughout the play, so as you read through, ask the following questions frequently: What do I WANT? Why do I WANT it? 8 The obstacles in the play keep your character from accomplishing their objectives. They are often the cause of conflict between characters. They may also be caused by a psychological block or internal struggle within your own character. Just as there can be many objectives, there can also be many obstacles in the play. Once you know what your character wants, then you must ask: What obstacles must I OVERCOME to get what I want? An example of a character objective and obstacle can be found easily in your basic horror movie - the character's objective is to have a peaceful existence without fear, and their obstacle is the evil force or person who is frightening them. Other obstacles to consider might be: Time - do you have a time limit to accomplish your objective? Ability - are you skilled at the task needed to accomplish your objective? Feelings - do you have to battle feelings of guilt or fear before you can accomplish your objective? On-stage, as in life, a person's character is revealed through his actions and by his reasons for doing them. By asking these questions, the Actor begins to discover who his character is. Relationships Consider how your character relates to the other characters in the play. Does your character like or dislike them? Do the characters share history before the time period of the play? Does a daring character make your cautious character irritable? How does your character relate to objects in the play? For instance, if your character is ordered to drink a beer, his relation with that beer will be different than if he's thankfully quenching his thirst on a hot summer day. Objects become very good partners when they're imbued with a meaningful relationship. Objects can provide the same psychological stimulus as another character can. A lot of these relationships will become evident through rehearsal but a few ideas beforehand will make your rehearsal process more productive. Using the Lines Keep in mind that behind every line of text, there is SUBTEXT. If a character says, "It's raining," the subtext might be one of these: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. We'll have to move the party indoors Now those flowers will grow very well No, you can't go outdoors to play I told you you ought to get the roof fixed I love to walk in the rain An Actor has no right to speak a line until he has discovered the reason for saying it. The subtext colors the line of text and will influence what words you stress and what your physical expressions are. As you say the text, you must always THINK the subtext just as clearly. Finding the Beats What a character does to accomplish each minor objective is called a beat. A beat is a unit of action and each beat is a necessary step toward the major objective. For example, if your character is a burglar, you might break the script into these beats: 9 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Break into the house Locate the wall safe Open the safe Remove the valuables Escape from the house An actor should always find the beats, mark the beginning and end in the script, and be able to state the objective and obstacle for each one. The actor is responsible for this work before rehearsals begin. ** Memorizing Lines ** Word for Word? Many actors fail to understand why they must memorize their lines word for word as the playwright has written them. It becomes frustrating for the actor when they are faced with a difficult speech, but there are many reasons why the actor should resist the temptation to paraphrase: 1. Security. The only way to be sure of fluidity in your speaking is to know the words accurately. One of the most frightening things an actor can ever experience on stage is a sudden moment of forgetfulness - where your mind goes blank. And nothing can kill a punchline faster than an actor who is stumbling around because he doesn't know exactly how the line goes. 2. Characterization.The words of a play are music for the actors to dance to. Every word, every punctuation mark, every pause and every stage direction the playwright includes is there for a reason. Clues are given in the use of vocabulary that tell you (and the audience) important things about a character. 3. Integrity of the Play. The play's speed, tone and message depend on recognizing the playwrights purpose for every scene, every line and even every word. Different characters are written to speak in different ways - fast or slow, using dialect or regional jargon - and patterns are created from combinations or repetitions of words. Therefore changing words can affect the integrity of the whole play. How to Memorize If you don't have a photographic memory then you have to work at memorizing your lines. Here are some tips that should help you: Highlight. Emphasize your lines in the script with a highlighter or underline with a brightly colored pen. Use a different color to mark your cues (the lines or actions just before your line). Mark stage directions with another color or don't mark them at all. Read through. Go over all your lines (out loud) several times. Read each line. In order, from the top of the play, read each line aloud, slowly. Concentrate on each word - especially the small words like and, or, but, if. At intervals, put the script down and check how much you remember. When that line is memorized, move onto the next until you can remember the entire speech without looking at the script. Then move onto the next speech, etc., until you've gone over them all. As you go on, the chunks of dialogue that you practice without using the script should get larger and larger. Make sure to look up words or pronunciation that you're not familiar with (once you learn it wrong, it's much more difficult to re-learn it). Don't worry about interpreting, or acting, the words at this time, just put them together in one long stream. Read with a partner. Arrange someone to read the other character's lines so you can learn where your cues are. I've found it most helpful to record the other lines into a tape recorder, leaving silent spaces where my lines would be (hint: read the 10 passage silently, as slowly as you can - this will give you extra time to figure out the line when you play the tape back). Run the tape or practice with the partner as often as possible. Italian Run. When you have a solid handle on the lines, you can practice an Italian Run, or speak the lines out loud as fast as you can, in order, word perfect. As soon as you can do an Italian Run without stumbling, you've pretty much got it made. You can also do an Italian Run involving your practice partner or the rest of the cast. Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice, the more you'll find it easier and easier, more fluid, and natural. In rehearsal, each line will be imbued with meanings and objectives which will also help your memory. At this point, the Stage Manager can usually keep an eye on the script and call any mistakes to your attention. REHEARSAL Table of Contents: ** Stage Basics ** ** The Rehearsal Process ** ** Stage Basics ** Definitions Stage Right - The actor's right as he stands onstage facing the audience. Stage Left - The actor's left as he stands onstage facing the audience. Downstage - Toward the audience. Upstage - Away from the audience. In - Toward the center of the stage. Out - Away from the center of the stage. Stage Areas UR URC UC ULC UL R RC C LC L DR DRC DC DLC DL U = Upstage, D = Downstage, R = Right, C = Center, L = Left. More Definitions Onstage - The part of the stage which is visible to the audience. Offstage - The part of the stage not visible to the audience. Backstage - Usually the entire stage portion of the theatre including the wings, dressing rooms, etc. Out front - Usually the auditorium portion of the theatre including theatre seating, lobby, etc. Wings - Offstage space at right and left of the onstage area, usually curtained off. Body Positions Open - A body position where the actor faces or nearly faces the audience. Since the actor must be well seen and heard, he/she should remain as open as possible. To open (as a verb) is to turn toward the audience. Here are some general rules to stay open: 11 1. In scenes shared with another actor, turn only slightly toward him, leaving yourself 75% open to the audience (called a Quarter Position) 2. Make a turn downstage 3. When making gestures, use the upstage arm 4. Kneel on the downstage knee Closed - A body position where the actor faces away or mostly away from the audience. To close (as a verb) is to turn away from the audience. Body Levels High - Standing on a step or increment higher than another actor. Medium - Sitting, kneeling, bending over a piece of furniture, standing on a step lower than another actor, etc. Low - Crouching, lying on the floor, etc. The Two Deadly Sins of Body Positioning 1. Upstaging - When one actor stands upstage, forcing another actor to turn his back to the audience. Avoid upstaging unless you're directed to do so. 2. Blocking - When one actor stands directly in front of another actor. Never stand in front of another actor, unless specifically directed to do so. Blocking can be avoided by being aware of body levels. ** The Rehearsal Process ** An actors conduct in rehearsal should display a professional attitude. Even if you are participating in an amateur production, your professionalism will be noticed and appreciated. When every actor conducts themselves professionally, the work gets done faster and the process can be more relaxed. A professional attitude on your part might also incline your Director to work with you again in the future. 12 Commandments for a Professional Actor 1. Do preliminary work at home (See Script and Character). The rehearsal is only productive to the extent that the actor brings something to them. 2. Warm up before rehearsal (See Warm-up) The director may have a group warm up in mind, but if not, be warm and ready to work ahead of time. 3. Review the work covered at the last rehearsal. 4. Commit all of your energy and attention to the work at hand. 5. Remain experimental and flexible. Be ready to make changes at any time. Be willing to try anything at least once. 6. Maintain contact with other actors. Acting is reacting. Make direct eye contact as often as possible. 7. Write down your stage directions (called blocking). Your blocking may be changed many times over, but if you always write it down, you'll always remember where you're supposed to be at any moment in the scene. 8. Memorize your lines about half way through the rehearsal period. It's best to learn the lines as the Playwright wrote them, word for word. (See Script) 9. Outside of the directors blocking, it's the actors responsibility to come up with other physical activity appropriate to the scene (called business). For example, your character may be hand washing some clothes in a basin while he/she carries on light conversation with another character.Conduct activities where stated or implied in the script and if there's little guidance provided, use your imagination to invent things the character may be doing in the scene. 10. Let everyone else do their own jobs. Unless you're the director, it's not your responsibility to direct the activities of any other actor or crew member. Bring up concerns only if it directly affects your own work. 12 11. No one likes a Prima Donna. No matter what size your part is, you are only one spoke on a big wheel. Recognize and appreciate the work of others on the team. Accept direction without explanation or excuse. You may have a wonderful reason for doing something a certain way, but if the director asks you to change it, don't waste time arguing, just change it. Trust your director. HOT TIPS Don't force a character onto the script. What you say and do make the character and, as long as you've done the preliminary work, the rehearsal will reveal the character naturally. Forcing a character will make your performance melodramatic. Achieve dramatic tension, not physical tension. Speed is achieved in theatre by sustaining the audience interest, so if the actor maintains a constant state of discovery, the audience will never feel like the time is dragging. Make sure to ask, What am I doing? instead of brushing over with emotion. For example, "I'm trying to get the guard to give me the keys to my cell" instead of "I'm feeling claustrophobic". In a serious drama, find the humor within the dilemma. Three definitions for the word blocking: 1. On stage, blocking is when you're standing in front of another actor. 2. In Improvisation, blocking is when you fail to accept a suggestion from another improvisor. 3. In rehearsal, blocking describes your movement around the stage. At any time in the rehearsal process, you should be able to stop and state your objective and obstacle. Acting is behaving naturally in a make believe situation. Acting is reacting. Acting is interacting. Really look and listen to the person you're acting with. Look through the script for words that have a sound. For example, 'bright' should sound bright, 'dull' should sound dull, and 'ascend' should vocally ascend. Quote: "The most natural, the most seemingly accidental effects come when the working of the mind is seen before the tongue gives it words". Practice reading out loud. It will improve your enunciation. Another method to improve your speech habits is to put a cork between your teeth and speak around it. Auditioning: Auditioning can be nerve wracking but I always try to look at it as a positive experience (if all I have is that 10 minutes to perform in a year, then damn it, I'm gonna perform my heart out!). Frankly, the worst thing that can happen is that you'll learn something about yourself. Also, see the note below on stage fright. Stage fright can be daunting for beginning actors, so here's some tips for getting past it: 1. Stage fright always feels much worse than it looks. 2. The audience doesn't want you to fail, they're out there supporting your success. 3. Nervousness and excitement, physically, are very similar. Focus on being excited. 4. Breath deeply. 5. Forget about yourself and focus on what you have to do. Be BRAVE, be CONFIDANT, be HONEST. READING LIST 13 Table of Contents: ** Plays ** ** Actors Resources ** ** Technique ** ** Plays ** Oedipus Rex by Sophocles The Second Shepherds' Play by Anonymous Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen "The Hairy Ape" by Eugene O'Neill Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller Happy Days by Samuel Beckett Fool For Love by Sam Shepard The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol Zastrozzi by George F. Walker The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov Miss Julie by Strindberg White Biting Dog by Judith Thompson Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett Creeps by David Freeman The Ecstasy of Rita Joe by George Ryga The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams Billy Bishop Goes to War by John Gray Blood Relations by Sharon Pollock Nothing Sacred by George F. Walker This list is by no means inclusive. I have listed some of my favorites and as many classic works as I can think of. Other plays by these Authors are also recommended. ** Actors Resources ** The Actors Survival Kit by Miriam Newhouse & Peter Messaline 222 Monologues 2 Minutes and Under: The Ultimate Audition Book by Jocelyn A. Beard Your First Year in Hollywood by Michael Saint Nicholas Acting for the Camera by Tony Barr, Eric Stephan Kline, and Edward Asner ** Technique ** On Method Acting by Edward Dwight Easty How to Learn the Alexander Technique: A Manual for Students by Barbara & William Conable Awareness Heals: The Feldenkrais Method for Dynamic Health by Steven Shafarman GETTING STARTED Table of Contents: ** Getting Started in Theatre ** ** Getting Started in Film ** 14 I've had a lot of email from people requesting information about how to get started in the acting profession. While I can't possibly know what the theatre or film community is like where you live, I can help with some general information. ** Getting Started in Theatre ** Schools I recommend taking acting classes as much as possible. Classes not only help refine your acting technique, they help you discover yourself and grow as a person. It's also fun to be with others who share your passion. If you're already in school, take drama as an option. Ask your instructor if there are other schools in your area that he/she can recommend. Open your local yellow pages. In my yellow pages, acting schools are listed under SCHOOLS-PERFORMING ARTS. Some theatre companies offer classes too. Sometimes the only way to find out if they do is to call and ask. In my yellow pages, theatre companies are listed as THEATRES-LIVE. Resume If you have some experience in school or independent theatre productions, list your credits on a neatly typed and formatted resume. You may want to include information on where the production was performed, what school or theatre company put the production on, and what part you played. Resume Photo Every actor who's actively looking for acting work must have a resume photo. When you're first starting out, you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars. As long as the photo is a good quality 8x10 print, black and white, shows a clear picture of your face, and the picture looks like you (no characters), it's fine to start with. Any photo lab can do multiple copies of your photo, but they can be expensive. If you find that you're going to a lot of auditions, you'll need to do some further research to find a company who can do prints cheap. Amateur Theatre Most major cities have theatre companies who put on theatre productions with volunteer actors. This is the best way for someone who's just starting out to build credits for their resume, network with others, get some exposure to industry professionals, learn the craft, and have fun. Some companies advertise their auditions in a local paper, but you can also phone to enquire if a company does amateur productions and when they do auditions. If they are auditioning, make sure to ask what they require you to prepare for your audition. 15 Becoming a Professional There are no hard and fast rules about when to start auditioning for professional theatre companies. If you have a good photo, a resume with at least a few credits, you've had some positive feedback about your performances and class work, and you feel confidant, go for it. Most professional theatre companies hold a general audition once a year. Call the theatre companies in your area and ask when they'll have their general auditions and what you'll need to prepare for it. ** Getting Started in Film ** Schools Classes are very important for the film actor. Take them as often as possible. Resume & Resume Photo Keep track of your film credits on your resume. If you have a lot of theatre credits, put some on, but film directors want to see details of your film work first. Make sure your resume photo is very high quality if you're living in a large center where there is a lot of film work. Competition is huge and your presentation must be perfect. Doing some Film Work If you live in a city where there is a great deal of film production, independent film schools and university film departments often need volunteer actors for student films. You'll need to find a school bulletin board for postings unless they advertise in the school or local paper. Independent film productions may advertise in a local paper when they're auditioning for actors. Casting Agencies Casting agencies, as opposed to Talent agencies, do not represent the individual actor, they work for the film production. Casting agents keep photographs of actors and when a director needs an actor of a particular age or look, the casting agent goes through their books of photos and call people in to audition. It's often easier to get involved with a casting agency because the casting agent wants to have as many ages and looks as possible in their books. A talent agent can only represent as many people as they have time to promote and they only want to invest their time promoting actors who get regular work. You'll usually find casting agencies in cities with a limited amount of film production and often the casting agent casts both extras (non-speaking) and principle (speaking) roles. Talent Agencies Talent agencies represent and promote the professional actor. There are talent agencies that represent extras only (non-speaking) and agencies that represent commercial, film and television actors. 16 When you're just starting out, doing some work as an extra will get you on set and is great experience. It's relatively easy to get signed on with an extra agency. When you're confidant and ready with some credits, you can then work on getting a principle agent. This is an agent who will promote your talents to major casting directors for commercials, film and television roles. A principle agent, if they're good, are often difficult to get in to see. Networking is super important when shopping around for a principle agent. Most often, it'll be a recommendation from someone the agent respects that will get you in the door. At that point, they may ask you to audition for them. You can usually find Talent agencies in cities where there is a lot of film production business.