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Friday, February 5, 2016

People Magazine feature on Uta Hagen 1978 PLUS A 1951 ARTICLE

more on Uta Hagen:

PDF LINK:  In an interview from 1995, Uta discusses the difference between her two books, Respect for Acting and A Challenge for the Actor. I only chose the relevant part of this long interview.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

My interview with Dallas acting coach Theresa Bell

Corey: When did you first become interested in acting?

TB:  I don’t remember not being interested in acting.  It wasn’t until the late 80’s that I actually did anything about it.  I was living in Dallas and I had a baby in 1983.  I was married but not happily.   As much as I loved being a mother, and I was a hands-on, full time Mom, I knew there was something missing.  I was watching Oprah, of all things, and there was a writer discussing his latest book and he asked the question,“If you could wake up tomorrow and remove all of your obstacles, your location, your finances, your education, your family, what do you want to do? “

It was so clear to me that I wanted to act. So, I discussed it with my husband at the time and he said, ‘”Well, go ahead and act.” In Dallas, we actually had a market, but it was mainly commercials and industrial films.  I had tremendous luck here, and I worked almost immediately. My first audition was for a Radio Shack commercial and I booked it.  After that, I continued to work steadily. In the late eighties Oliver Stone was in town doing Talk Radio. I auditioned for it and I got the part. I actually received my SAG card from Oliver Stone.  I worked a lot during that time but it was very clear to me that if I wanted to do more substantial, meaningful roles, I had to move to LA.   By spring of 1990 I was living in LA. I don’t think I realized at the time just how unusual my experience was. Inside of five months, John Crosby was my manager and the Artist’s Group was my agent. That first year I worked on Night Court, the TV show, three times and I worked with Oliver Stone two more times.  In December of 1990 I audition for Steven Spielberg.  He was doing Hook, and I auditioned for the part of a mermaid.  Right after I found representation, I was encouraged to work with Roy London.   At that time, Ivana Chubbuck coached Roy’s beginner classes so I had the great fortune of working with her for a few months before I matriculated to Roy’s class.  For so many reasons studying under Roy London is quite possibly the most life-altering experience I’ve ever had. I am very confident that my life would be very different had I not met him. He might be  the first man I ever met…that GOT me. He just really saw me and of course, didn’t objectify me. He saw my heart and my soul and he valued those things.

Corey: Do you have any sense of the roles changing for women, of there being greater room for their empowerment and their voice?

TB: Yes!  It has been an incredibly slow change but I do see it happening.  Last year was a wonderful year for some lovely films with great female characters which a wonderful female point of view.  I loved Brooklyn, Carol, The Danish Girl, and Room, I am also a huge fan of Game of Thrones, and one of the reasons is that those female characters are amazing.  They are allowed to be beautiful and powerful.  I don’t think we see that nearly enough in American films.  If a woman is drawn as an empowered character, she is often more like a man and has to sacrifice much of her femininity.  It’s a tricky balance but it can be done. I believe the solution is more female writers and directors need to be given the opportunity to tell these stories.

C: Do you think you learned or were taught about the role of being a woman in ways that you had to unlearn in order to act?

TB: I’m not sure.  The entire idea of “what is a man and what is a woman” has become very confusing since the feminist movement in the 60’s and 70’s.  I think we are still trying to figure that one out.  The short answer, whether it is in acting or in life, I believe woman have been handed a very small toolbox with which we are expected to negotiate life and the world.  I struggle with the burden placed on women to use their looks and sexuality to work the world. While interesting and often wonderfully beneficial, I find it very myopic that our society and film insist on these being the main tools or the only tools.  Women are such amazing creatures and I don’t like seeing them reduced to mere objects.   I suppose at one time there was a role I was expected to snap myself into - in life and in acting - that I just wouldn’t allow.  I still don’t allow it.  It is the reason I walked away from acting in 1995.  I was tired of playing the victim, idiot or accessory. This is also the main reason I began to write and it informs my coaching as well. 

Corey: What advice do you have for actors who go out to L.A.?

TB: The number one thing I always tell them is to have some money! Do not go out there if you don’t have some savings!   Be sure you have a flexible other job or  someone taking care of you. The other thing is you have got to get into class, stay in class, and then build that network of people that you want to work with. I really encourage actors to be real about who they are, because we live in such a fantasy industry that it’s easy to become deluded.   I remind them that while they will have a hundred times the opportunities, they will have two hundred times the competition.  And have something else, I always tell my actors to do volunteer work.  This, this can be a very narcissistic, all consuming ‘me me me’ profession. However, if someone helps a little kid who doesn’t have parents or who is sick, they will realize what’s important. It’s also hard to be down on yourself when you are contributing.

Corey: What is your sense of the camera and working in front of the camera?

TB: Well, actually in all of my classes but one, we have the camera set up and we record the scenes. I teach scene study and character analysis but it’s more for film and TV acting, not for stage. They can learn how to break down a scene, and I tell them there are certain things they have to be aware of in film and TV acting that are very different from theater acting.   The purpose of the camera in our classes is to allow them to become comfortable with it being there and to give them a way to see how they perform on camera.

Corey: What is your experience with actors being available to the inner work with their emotions or not available to opening up to it?

TB:  There are certain people that I just know I am never going to penetrate. I know some people are just locked up really tight. Sometimes I know they are just half-assing anyway. The choices I make as a coach are conscious and unconscious about when to push and how hard to push and when not to. Then, there are that handful of people that are in it for the long run, they are serious about it, they want to be challenged and even if there’s a little bit if resistance, I will keep pushing until I get the result that I think is needed. Oftentimes, I will finish it with, “thank you for going there,” and I’ll say, “listen, you don’t have to go to those places for an audition, but here’s the thing, if you really want the part and someone after you goes where I just asked you to go, they’re gonna get the role.” So if you can do that, then you owe it to yourself to commit to that fully, and also know how to take care of yourself and to recover from it once you do. That’s something I don’t think enough coaches give enough importance to, recovering from those circumstances.

Corey: Will you ever kick a person out of class? Do you have that boundary?

TB: Yes. If a person doesn’t show up, they’re not reliable scene partners. I’ve been really lucky in that I haven’t had any predator type people. I feel good that my actresses can approach me and say, ‘look, I never want to work with that person again, because …"

Corey: What’s your approach to ‘type,’ do you make them aware of type?

TB: Yes, I’m glad you asked me this.  Once or twice a year, I do a workshop on archetypes. And that came more from my screen writing, because as a screenwriter, I became very interested in Carl Jung and his idea of the archetypes in dreams. So I do an archetype workshop and the actors love it because its extremely interactive and they walk in… and their classmates write down immediately what type they see. I have one woman who, if she walked in the room, you’d say, ‘ok, she’s a young mom. I don’t care what they say, no matter what she gets hired for its going to be a young mom.’  Not that she can’t do this other stuff, but her gold is the mom stuff. And she should be auditioning for mom stuff all the time and it was a slam-dunk. But the value of the workshop is when an actor walks in and they don’t know their type. I had a young man take the workshop a few years ago and he saw himself as a lost soul,  but every person in the room put down “Charmer, Bad Boy.”  So, there was clearly a disconnect. Not that he can’t play a multitude of roles, but the one who runs the show is the Charmer/Bad Boy.  Sometimes in class, I’ll even give out a scene that goes against someone’s type, just because there are other lessons in it. And maybe they’ll never play a role like that, but it’s really good to know how to work those muscles.

Corey: Do you have a take on the use of the dream work in acting?

TB: I do not do the dream work with my students.  I spent two years working with a renowned Jungian analyst here in Dallas, but as much as I know about them, I don’t use them in class.  I don’t feel qualified.

Corey: Do you want to talk about your writing? About your projects and stuff?

TB: I would love to. Thank you for asking. Well, I’ve written nine screenplays.   This is one of the perks of being an extreme introvert. Extreme. So it is very easy for me to write.  I had two mentors in my life at that time that encouraged me to write.  One was a tv producer and the other was a benefactor of mine.   I enjoy writing and three of my screenplays have been finalist in various competitions.   It was only because of coaching that I came to believe I could actually direct.  I direct four classes a week.  I was actually invited by an actress who is also a friend of mine to direct a film for the 48 Film Competition in Mississippi in 2012 and in 2014 a friend of mine encouraged me to write and direct a short film based on one of my features.  I wrote, produced and directed Lullaby last spring and I am using it, as a calling card to try to get investors to invest in it.   Whether it’s Lullaby or something else—I am ready to make a feature. Everyone in the film is an actor that I’ve coached with the exception of the female lead and the little boy.

Corey: How do you define what’s different for this female character (in Lullaby) from what goes on in Hollywood?

TB: It’s her story.  It’s not her supporting someone else’s story. It’s hers.

Corey: Anything else you want to say about your writing or your work?

TB: I feel unbelievably lucky to be able to do what I do.  I love my actors and that they trust me with their talent is huge to me.  I also never thought I would ever be paid for speaking or for anything involving my mind so that is thrilling.  I feel like I am just getting started!

Corey: Are there any actresses from any era that you feel have, through their work, gotten up there and furthered the cause?

TB:  In the 30’s and 40’s women ruled the box office!    I could spend hours talking about how this changed and got so skewed but I will save that for another time.  I loved Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Judy Garland.   They made films where the focus was on the female character and they weren’t there just to support the man’s story.  Films were far more egalitarian at that time.  Today, I really admire Cate Blanchette.  From what I see, she is very committed to making films about women who have a clear and truthful voice.  Her acting is amazing but I love that she chose not to work in film for seven years until Woody Allen offered her Blue Jasmine.  It’s not about the money or fame for her, it’s about the story and the woman’s voice in that story.  I don’t think that actresses alone can change the world, not that any profession has the power to do that.  Any influence films might have, no matter how small, starts with the story.   A poor actress can ruin a good story but a great actress simply cannot make a bad story great.

Corey: What is your advice to the actress who is drawn to acting and is just starting her journey?

TB: When actors first start working with me, I don’t get into how they should construct their careers or offer a lot of personal advice.  As I get to work with them longer I offer more career advice.

In addition… and this has been a very hard lesson for me to learn… most of my life there was a belief that everyone on the planet had the same value system that I did. Of course that’s stupid, because they don’t. And so I've made mistakes, a lot of mistakes, thinking that other women value what I value, the truth, a stronger voice, a more accurate portrayal of just who we are.  I have learned to accept that some people just want to be rich or famous or just make a living acting regardless of the quality of the projects and while I could not do that, I certainly understand it.

link to TBell Studio promo:

Monday, February 1, 2016

INDIE MEMPHIS Splice and Shoot Acting on Film @ Crosstown Arts
for the actor

Edison Studios early 1900s

Dustin Hoffman screen test

       High School of Performing Arts, NYC 

HB Studios, Bank Street

I learned acting on film from my teachers: Sandra Seacat (Jessica Lange, Mickey Rourke), Susan Batson (Nicole Kidman, Juliette Binoche), Uta Hagen (Jack Lemmon, Sigourney Weaver), Herbert Berghof (Anne Bancroft), Mira Rostova (Montgomery Clift), Ivana Chubbuck (Terrence Howard, Halle Berry).

And from the actors and directors 
I have worked with:

 Sophia Loren, Mike Nichols,  J.J. Abrams, Susan Sarandon, Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke, Anne Bancroft, Patrick Dempsey, Christopher Walken, Connie Britton, Kate Nelligan, Mathew Broderick, Marsha Mason, Sandy Dennis, John Schlesinger, John Slattery, John Malkovich, Treat Williams, Peter Boyle, Tom Skerritt, Harold Gould, Stephen Hill, Jason Alexander, Tea Leone, Lisa Kudrow, Greg Grunberg, Billy Dee Williams, Jesse L. Martin, Renee Taylor, Stephen Hill, John Dye, Cecilia Peck, Sherilyn Fenn, Brian Cox, Robert Urich, Ken McMillan, Jeremy Piven, James Spader, Hume Cronyn, Michelle Lee, Debra Messing, Linda Hamilton, Frances Sternhagen, Gary Cole, Hal Holden, Grace Zabriskie, Bill Cobbs, Tim Curry,  Eric LaSalle, Anthony Edwards, Elizabeth Perkins, Thomas Hayden Church, Hector Elizondo, Bruce Dern, E.G. Marshall, Dan Hedaya, Patty Duke, John Glover, Richard Kind.

  No one owns acting. You are free to find your own way of working.   

Acting on film is telling the truth. 

Tommaso Salvini 1829- 1916

"I must by intuition grasp the characters, and by study reproduce them with a semblance of truth. I must become capable of identifying myself with one or another personage to such an extent as to lead the audience into the illusion that the real personage, and not a copy, is before them."

"I must work, I must learn!"
Eleanora Duse 1858-1924
Considered one of the great actresses in history.

Charlie Chaplin called her "The finest thing I have seen onstage."

Constantin Stanislavski 1863-1938

"In the circle of light on the stage in the midst of darkness, you have the sensation of being entirely alone... This is called solitude in public... During a performance, before an audience of thousands, you can always enclose yourself in this circle, like a snail in its shell... You can carry it wherever you go."

"Of course, if you have thought up to now that an actor relies merely on inspiration you will have to change your mind. Talent without work is nothing more than raw unfinished material."

"Create your own method. Don't depend slavishly on mine. Make up something that will work for you"

"Our demands are simple, normal, and therefore they are difficult to satisfy. All we ask is that an actor on the stage live in accordance with natural laws."

The Group Theater, 1931. The birth of America's own approach to 
Stanislavsky's System, later practiced in theater and film. Members included Lee Strasberg, Sanford Meisner, Stella Adler, Elia Kazan, Robert Lewis, Harold Clurman.

In 1947,Group members  Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford and Robert Lewis founded the Actors Studio. It is a place where professional actors can experiment and try new things. Lee Strasberg became primary teacher for many years. 

Lee Strasberg teaching his class at the Actors Studio. James Dean in front.

Strasberg with student Al Pacino

Marilyn Monroe studied with Strasberg for a time

Dustin Hoffman studied with Strasberg

Stella Adler, after the Group Theater, became a renowned teacher and respected film actress. She taught at the New School for Social Research, and founded the Stella Adler Studio.

Marlon Brando studied with Stella Adler

Robert DeNiro, right, studied with Stella Adler

Sanford Meisner, after the Group, became a renowned acting teacher at the Neighborhood Playhouse.

Robert Duvall, front row to the left, studied with Meisner

Gregory Peck trained with Meisner 
and Michael Chekhov

 Elia Kazan, right, came out of the Group Theater and successfully directed both Broadway and film.
"I'd watched other actors working and saw how little they had to do externally 'register' on the screen...The camera, I concluded, is a microscope, which reveals what the eye does not see. It also penetrates into a person, under the surface display, and records thoughts and feelings--whatever is going on."  (Kazan)

Stanley Kubrick spoke of this book as his source 
for help directing actors

Sydney Pollack studied with Sanford Meisner

Sidney Lumet was one of the first members of the Actors Studio 

"Any good actor uses the principles of Stanislavsky, no matter what they do. They may do it unwittingly, but they do it. You can call that 'method,' I don't care what you call it, but it's about being truthful. Every time you find a truthful actor, you find someone who bears out some of the realism that Stanislavsky bothered to put on paper."

--Montgomery Clift

The camera sees what is placed in front of it.

Reading the script is where the work starts.

 Read it once and seeing what it triggers in you or makes you feel... Then you stay open-minded and read it again. The more the better.
The script is filled with clues for the actor, about the world you are going to be living in. 

You can start to create based on the writer's words. For me, it's like a puzzle, and I will be putting it together until the movie is done. Beneath the words, what actually has to be communicated in a scene? In a shot? Even without words, communication is happening, with the body, with the eyes. The easiest way to understand communication as an actor, is to watch people.

Anywhere you see people, watch them... what is their body doing? How important is the topic of discussion to them? What effect are they trying to have on the person they are talking to? Even when they are on their phone, you can ask these questions. Is that person trying to get help from someone? Are they flirting or seducing? 
Are they talking to someone and trying to get them to laugh?
 Are they trying to get a point across? 
Is it life or death? 
Where do you see the communication in their body?

"Acting is in everything but the words."
--Stella Adler

The actor on screen must honor and respect the words that are written, but by watching people, you can see that beneath the words is where life is, and it's communicated through the body. The words may be connected to this inner life or they may be a cover to the inner life, but the words are not the source of our life. The camera captures behavior. We hear the words of an actor, but we watch behavior. We listen with our eyes.

In order to communicate truthfully, we research the script, ask questions, and then we start to make choices. 

Who are you? 
Where are you?
Where were you before this?
Why are you here?
What do you want?
How badly do you want it?
What is your character's bottom line need in the script? 
and in the scene?
What is your relationship to each person in the scene you're in?
What is your relationship to everything in the frame?
 On set: where is the light?

These are a starting point. The camera captures the behavior that reveals who you are, why you are there, what you are after.
Do you get tense in front of the camera? Can you reveal your humanity in front of the camera?

"Staring back at the lens from within myself, I feel that so much of what I've otherwise kept hidden is captured and filtered. What emerges on the screen reminds people of something in themselves, because I'm so many different things. I'm a network of primal feelings, instinctive emotions that have been wrestled with so long, they're automatic. The things I don't like about myself, the things I do like about myself, the things I'm not, but I'd like to be, the things I am but don't want others to know about--these are all percolating inside. All these contradictory aspects are the basic me. Courage and cowardice, strength and weakness, fear and joy, love and hate--that's what makes up the actor so that's available to the camera."

--Sydney Poitier

 One danger for the actor is to avoid it all together, another danger is to be honest or emotional without anything driving you forward. 

The super objective, or overall objective is a visceral choice about what the character wants from the beginning to the end of the script, and it involves bringing change to their lives. What do they really need? It might be unconditional love or power over their own lives. Once the choice is made, you can look at each scene and find the scene objective. If the character wants love overall, how are they trying to get it in each scene? 

The pursuit drives the character and also moves the action of the script forward. The choices you make may be weak choices or strong choices. When people say, 'No acting please,' they are not saying make no choices, have nothing going on and no sense of purpose. They are saying Don't just emote, pursue something, and they are also saying, don't act so hard that it shows you're acting--don't show the seams of your work. 

You do your homework, your preparation and when it comes time to act, let it go, enter the moment and bring the character to life.


Director Sidney Lumet wrote:"The talent of acting is one in which the actor's thoughts and feelings are instantly communicated to the audience. In other words, the  'instrument' that an actor is using is himself. It is his feelings, his sexuality, his tears, his laughter, his angst, his romanticism, his tenderness, his viciousness, that are up there on the screen for all to see. That's not easy. There are many actors who can duplicate life brilliantly. Every detail will be correct, beautifully observed and perfectly reproduced. One thing is missing, however. The character's not alive, I don't want life reproduced up there on the screen. I want life created."

"The truth is you have to be more honest in films than on the stage." 

--Edward G Robinson

How do you get honest in acting? Study. Practice. Many people think of acting as something that has no structure. Whereas a pianist practices daily, what can actors do? Actors must create their own structure. 
Keeping an acting journal is a way to start creating structure for your acting.

Work on your instrument daily. Work on monologues, scenes, read books, exercise. Do vocal warmups each day, develop your voice. Watch film with the sound turned down, and see what the actor is communicating, did the actor make a choice or not. Study tight shots this way. You will know if they made a choice or are just 'winging it.'

 Start an acting journal and fill it with everything you love about acting, everything that inspires you, write down your questions. Search. Follow your passion, train your instrument. Other actors are doing it, so you can too. Whatever your goal is, create structure and commit to it daily. For an hour, a half hour, 15 minutes every day.This can help create an instrument that is accessible, an emotional life that is available, and an ability to stay truly present take after take. And work to get off of yourself, help others, volunteer, save animals. Avoid getting too self involved.

Start looking at yourself in your life.When are you honest? When are you not honest?When do you reveal the real you? If you begin your search for the authentic you, then ask yourself who do you truly open up to? Who do you let down your guard with? Your mother? Your father? Your best friend? Your lover? Your spouse? Your kid?  That intimate you is important to bring with you in front of the camera. The camera can tell when you are open or protected. The camera captures our behavior.  The camera tells the story: Humans in circumstances of conflict, humans that think, feel, yearn, fight, try. As we overcome the obstacles in the script, we show the audience the side of themselves that also struggles and yearns and tries. Rarely does the audience want to watch someone be a victim who does nothing but complain and remain powerless. That's why we can't get lost in emoting. The actor must have a sense of purpose and must, in some way-large or small- be in pursuit of something better.

Sanford Meisner's famous quote: 

"Acting is living truthfully in imaginary circumstances."

Director Frank Capra wrote: "This is the artistry of the film director: convince actors that they are real flesh and blood human beings living in a story. Once actors are themselves convinced, then, hopefully, they will convince audiences. This self conviction of actors applies with equal force to those playing the smallest of parts. Does a star, paying his hotel bill, pay it to a bit actress or to a real cashier? A bit actress, perhaps, hired for one day, will be just a bit actress to herself and to audiences. But let the director give her an identity--an only daughter worried about her mother in the hospital, a wife anxious about her husband losing his job, or a woman in love, going to a party that night with the man of her life--and that bit actress becomes a woman. She may not say a single word in her brief appearance on the screen, but her "identity" will fix her mood, her thinking, her attitude. And audiences will sense her as a real person, not an actress. Very important, this."

"Imagination refers to the actors ability to accept new situations of life and believe in them. From your imagination comes your reactions."

--Stella Adler

"'What if" can be the entry into imagination.

Eyeline stays close to the lens

A question you can ask anytime you are acting, when you get lost, when you're unsure: Where did I just come from? What do I want? Where am I going?

" In a long shot, you don't have to worry much about getting your emotions right; the physical action is what counts. The camera is so far away that it won't see the emotions your supposed to experience. In a medium shot, your body language and gesticulations become more important, though you have to turn up your emotions a little. But it's in the close up that you really crank it up. The acting you do there is best conveyed by thinking, because if you're thinking right, it will show."
--Marlon Brando 

Stanislavsky paid a great deal of attention to relaxation in acting. This is a great tool for the actor in film.  Breathing is a key to relaxation, as it is in yoga and in mindfulness. The breath can bring us into the moment, or if we forget to breathe or even breathe in a shallow way, we can get tense quickly. Fear and anxiety are a part of the actor's world at some point. There are tools for this. Fear and anxiety involve adrenaline and cortisol being released into our bodies, as part of the fight or flight response. Daily relaxation, meditation, mindfulness as well as regular Pilates or yoga can retrain our bodies to lower the adrenaline level and create a new baseline, with less anxiety. Exercise is a key, as well as diet. I do believe that fear is something that actors need to become more accustomed to, and accept its presence at times. It is just energy and if we can allow it and coexist with it, we get better at it. Woody Allen used to vomit before each stand up performance. Laurence Olivier developed stage fright when he was the most respected actor in the world. Ethan Hawke has spoken of his stage fright in his documentary Seymour: An Introduction. He also speaks of needing a deeper meaning to his life and his acting than just praise and awards. When fear comes up I believe it can teach us if we allow it to.

One way we can stay simple and at ease on camera is listening. We tend to focus on our lines as the main point. But whenever other characters have lines, we can truly listen. It can get us centered and back in the moment. All fear and self consciousness literally take us out of the moment, away from what's right in front of us.

 But breathing and listening, even in an audition, reveal us ease, and fully present. 
Ease is important in front of the camera, including at auditions. 
The best work can happen when we are engaged in the moment and what's right in front of us. The camera watches our relationship to whatever and whomever is in front if us, in that frame.

"On set I’m an actor like every other actor. Most times, for every part I play, I can think of other actors who would be better. I worry from the moment I take a job. I worry about how I'm going to do it, if I can do it. I try to work out what I have to do on set and how I do that. I get extremely anxious. I panic. I can't get it. It happens every time, and I get myself into this state, and then I walk on set and the director says, 'Roll', and all of a sudden all of it disappears and it's all happening, and I relax and I'm doing what I do and I'm not even thinking about it. And I relax up until the moment they yell 'Cut'."

Jack Nicholson studied with Jeff Corey

"Listening is everything. Listening is the whole deal. That's what I think. And I mean that in terms of, before you work, after you work, in between work, with your children, with your husband, with your friends, with your mother. It's everything. And it's where you learn everything."

Meryl Streep attended Yale Drama School

.Humor on the set can lighten things up, bring play into it when things get tense.

Ultimately, technique can be seen by young American actors as a straight jacket. But technique is for the moments of difficulty. You can work in any way you choose, and if you get stuck and wonder what to do, there are limitless techniques that can help you become more proficient, more flexible and more confident. Search for the actors who inspire you and find out whom they studied with. Technique is not about checking off a to do list, it is about freeing your talent and allowing you to become more of who you are, empowered in your work. 

Martha Graham said, "The aim of technique is to free the spirit."

What do you need to work on as an actor?

What are your strengths and weaknesses? 
What muscles do you need to strengthen?

"People often say that an actor 'plays' a character well, but that's an amateurish notion. In acting, everything comes out of what you are or some aspect of who you are. Everything is a part of your experience. We all have a spectrum of emotions in us. It's a broad one and it is the actor's job to reach into this assortment of emotions and experience the ones that are appropriate for his character and the story."

--Marlon Brando

Film: rehearsal is optional. Some like to flesh out the work, some want to shoot the rehearsal.

Mike Nichols rehearsing The Graduate 
with Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft

In rehearsal, you can block out the scene, ask questions, try possibilities. What would the character do there?
What is needed to serve the scene?

Questions don't need to be answered by the left brain. Questions can be asked and then allowed to simmer. 

  If you ever had a script or an audition scene and did not know what to do? Script Breakdown is a technique that helps the actor to understand the logic of the scene and find a way to play it that excites you. This includes breaking down a scene into beats, and then finding out what the character is doing in each transition.


Notes: any result oriented acting note can be translated into process work. Susan Batson, Nicole Kidman's acting coach tells her that when a director gives a note that is a result, more angry, more happy, more sad, to translate this into a verb. A doing. This is the heart of Stanislavski's work--what are you doing in this script, in this scene, in this shot, in this moment? 

"The better you know yourself, the better an actor you'll be."

 --Ivana Chubbuck

To learn more about this work, I am leaving a list of books that can help.

"Playing to the Camera"

edited by Bert Cardullo, Ronald Gottesman, Leigh Wood

"Figures of Light"

Carole Zucker

"Actors Talk"

Dennis Brown

"Acting for the Camera"

Tony Barr

"Dream of Passion"

Lee Strasberg

"Art of Acting"

Stella Adler

"Sanford Meisner on Acting"

"Making Movies"

Sidney Lumet

"It Would Be So Nice if You Weren't Here"

Charles Grodin

The Ragman's Son
Kirk Douglas

Embracing Fear

Thom Rutledge

Uta Hagen Acting Class
Sanford Meisner Master Class
Inside the Actors Studio (Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino)
Showing Up
Searching for Debra Winger (focuses on actresses)
This So Called Disaster
Pina (on creativity)