Friday, December 11, 2009

The beginning - again

For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment.

Ernest Hemingway

This is the description of an acting class I taught once. Actors should study acting with an actor, not with a director. As you will soon see. Directors don't know what is not attainable until the actor shows it to him.

A young woman was in the class who had brought in a speech she wanted to use as an audition piece. It was about trying to deal with the heartbreak of a lost romance. She said she had worked hard on the speech and thought she had it down, and wanted my opinion. She stood and recited the speech for the class and for me. She tried to be as dramatic as she could. When she was finished I said "Okay. Have a seat. Let's begin." She sat down in a folding chair.

'Where are you?"

"In a room."

"What room?"

"My bedroom."

"What's in the room."

She named off the objects: a bed, a desk, a dresser, a closet and so forth. I asked her to describe the bed and kept pressing for all the details, the color of the bedspread and sheets, what the frame was made of, if the bed was made etc. Then on to the desk, What was on the des? A lamp, a phone, a clock, a typewriter, some papers, a cup with pens and pencil in it. I asked he to describe everything in detail, colors, shapes, hoe msny pens and what color they were.. The dresser with the same details. What was on the floor. What color was it. What was in the closet. She told me what the door of the room was like, what color and what the door knob looked like. Then she described the chair in the room, not the folding chair she was sitting in, but the comfortable easy chair,

I asked her if there was a window. "Yes." "What's outside the window?" She said there was a rail yard across the way and a street right below. Then sitting in the chair I asked her to describe what she heard. The clock ticking, the trains, the traffic below.

Then I asked her who she was talking about. Her ex-boy friend. I asked her to describe him in detail. She seemed to have no trouble with that. I asked her if they had spent any time together in that bed. She said they had so I asked her to think about the last time they were together and what happened, to recall it in her mind. She did that for a few minutes. Then I asked her to look around the room again, recall all the items she described to me, to listen to the sounds of the clicking, the trains and the traffic and to feel the nice comfortable chair she was sitting in. Then I said "Fill your thinking with all those details and when you're ready, do the speech again." The whole process took about an hour.

Finally she did the speech again, very quietly, and it was stunning. When she finished someone said "Wow!" and the class applauded her.

She was in exhausted, joyous tears. She said she never realized how much there was to the speech. I said that there was much more and that she would find it. She had just begun.

In order to have a new result you have to start with a new beginning.


PS: I've just given away some acting secrets that many directors and audiences don't know about. Mum's the word.

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