Scene Work – Almost, Maine

Scene: “Where It Went”

 

Q#1: What is the STASIS of the world of the characters in your scene right before the scene starts?

Phil and Marci are going out ice skating on Echo Pond in Almost, Maine. The setting is a cold winter night in Almost, they just finished ice skating and are changing back into their usual footwear.

Q#2: What is the relationship between the two characters in the scene? Who are they to each other?

Phil and Marci are husband and wife, indicated when Phil stated that they were working for “the kids.” Their relationship is unstable and deteriorating as their distance increases because Phil doesn’t pay attention anymore, and they “aren’t having fun anymore.” Another reason is how Marci is always lying and concealing her feelings, which creates a vicious cycle.

Q#3: What happens first – what is the first event? And then what happens next, then next, then next, then next?

After both finish skating, they put on their normal shoewear. However, they started to argue whether Marci was mad or not because Phil doesn’t “pay attention.” Marci couldn’t find her other shoe which made her a little ticked off than usual. A meteorite started burning in the sky, which prompted Marci to make a wish (presumably to find her shoes) and kept going to find her shoes. Phil makes a wish on a bright object on a sky (presumably for things to be better), but it was a planet instead, which made Marci complain about how he doesn’t pay attention. They argue until they both attack each other’s weaknesses, they both confess to having a “rotten time.” Afterward, Marci’s shoe dropped from the sky. She puts on her shoes and leaves, leaving Phil behind.

Q#4: What does your character WANT from the other character or this situation?

Phil wants Marci to become more transparent and not lie to Marci, while Marci wants Phil to be more “present” and pay attention to things around him. In this scenario, Phil’s dialogue suggests he wants Marci to confess her real feelings. On the other hand, Marci wants Phil to understand that he doesn’t pay attention by using herself and Saturn as examples. Marci also wants to find her shoe since her shoe was gone.

Q#5: What’s getting in their way? What is the OBSTACLE? – do this for each character

Marci’s discontent for Phil (presence and attention) is the obstacle to the relationship and vice versa (truthfulness and transparency). Their personality, way of communication and interactions are the obstacle to solving the problems. The way they express themselves agitates the other and both become discontent and unhappy.

Q#6: What tactics do they use to get what they want? Do they get what they want? Why don’t they get what they want? What do they get instead?

Both characters being fed up with the lack of conversational progress decides to wish upon a shooting star (or Saturn by accident) to get what they want. Marci wants her shoe while Phil most likely wants the relationship to normalize. Marci (literally) gets what she wants by wishing upon a shooting star, but Phil doesn’t get what he wants when he wished on a planet.

Q#7: What is the STASIS of the world for the characters at the end of the scene?

Marci leaves in her car, going somewhere away from Phil. Phil sits down and looks upon the sky figuring what happened, perhaps realizing the end of their relationship.

Q#8: What do you think this scene is about? What do you think is the BIG IDEA of this scene?

I think that this scene is about being attentive, how love isn’t eternal, and the unpredictability of wishes. Love isn’t eternal, because feelings may shift, described by Marci as “I don’t have fun with you anymore.” There is also the theme of being attentive. If the two characters paid more attention to their weaknesses, they could’ve avoided this “tragedy” and figured a solution. The fantasy elements in this story are the wishes. A wish from Marci ends up becoming true and doesn’t come true for Phil. It reminds us that making wishes shouldn’t be the way to guarantee certain things, but rather just make wishes for personal comfort and for fun.

Responding to a Play Text: Almost Maine by John Cariana

Before Reading

What information can you get about the play before you even start reading it?

You can understand the background of the play and who created it, you can understand the setting and character of the play. The author explains parts of the play and what it is and what it is not, and who are the characters. The scenes are put in a table of contents to easily navigate to different scenes and get a picture of what the play should include. Interestingly, this play has notations to indicate when to speak, similar to how Shakespearean plays have annotations to translate.

What can you tell about the SETTING of the play?

The play takes place in Almost, Maine, a northern town in Maine. It is very ordinary with regular people and incorporates the winter setting of Maine. The city of Almost has excessive snow and cold temperatures all day, and the geographical position allows the people to observe aurora borealis.

What information does the playwright want you to have about the play before you start reading?

As stated before, this play has overlapping dialogue. There is specific notation into reading this play, and the author emphasizes the importance of reading stage directions to understand the play. In addition, the playwright wants the reader to understand the setting, scene/acts, characters (names, sometimes personalities), et cetera.

Why is this important before you start reading?

If a reader cannot accurately grasp the fundamentals of the play, they may dive in and become confused. The literary features of a play include the lack of scenery description during the play itself, so there needs to be an understanding of the setting before reading. It is very unlikely that a character would describe the setting/location, as that is basically breaking the fourth wall.  The notations are necessary to better understand the plays and not get confused while reading.

Prologue

The prologue of Almost, Maine comprises of two characters, Ginette and Pete. They were sitting on a bench far from each other, gazing at the stars. Ginette “finally” confesses to Pete, and awkwardly, Pete reciprocates. After that, Ginette moves closer but is seemingly “rejected” by Pete when he says “…the farthest away you can be from someone” (Cariani 14). This prompts a negative reaction and she leaves with Pete confused on the bench.

Her Heart

Who are the characters in “Her Heart”? What do we know about them by reading the scene?

The personality and appeared persona are described by the character’s dialogue and their reactions towards given dialogue. The description of a character like this is known as a characterization through dialogue, actions, and character reactions. Glory is seen as a pure, gullible, and sentimental woman as seen by her dialogue and actions. She describes her experiences in a way that a normal human wouldn’t. East seems very ordinary. but shows qualities of impatience.

What happens in this scene?

Glory comes to East’s yard to gaze at the northern lights to say goodbye to her passed husband. She brings her “heart” with her as she cannot let go of it. East is confused and suddenly kisses her after a brief conversation. Glory’s history unravels and she finally lets go of her past and embraces her new future as East fixes her “heart.”

What is the conflict, change, disagreement, or realization?

The conflict is Glory not being able to move on from her past, and East can be seen as an aid to the process. The disagreement between Glory and East happens because of the internal conflict within Glory. East changes her mind to let go and Glory realizes she cannot be stuck by her old past.

What “idea” or “theme” or “concept” does the playwright want us to discover in this scene?

The theme of the scene is love and the ability for things to change in a heartbeat as explained as the playwright before. The idea of love conveys through their feelings for each other, and the materialization of love into the form of a heart (presumably a human heart) exaggerates the theme of love. The heart comes from popular belief and the literal approach of Cariana presents a sense of humor, fantasy, and realism at the same time. When Glory explains her heart shattered, it alludes to the theme of “love can change at an instant” and it works for the same when her heart gets (assumingly) repaired.

Sad and Glad

Who are the characters in each scene? What do we know about them by reading the scene?

By reading the scene, each character line indicates a character speaking, in “Sad and Glad,” it is Jimmy, Sandrine, and Villian. Jimmy is a person who dwells on the past, is loyal to his partner, and is pure. He can’t move forward from his past life. His interactions with Sandrine expresses his feelings and loyalty towards Sandrine, while Sandrine is quite the opposite. She moved on quickly and got engaged. Even though the Sandrine didn’t state her reason, she could be categorized as “disloyal” to her partner. Villian is a supporting character used to convey the theme. Villian appears to be a hard-working woman at the Moose Paddy.

What is the world of the characters before the scene begins? What happens in this scene? What is the world of the characters when the scene ends?

Jimmy seems to be in a depressed mood while Sandrine is about to get married by the time the scene starts. The story provides backstory to indicate that Jimmy and Sandrine used to be in a relationship, but Sandrine left him. A short summary of the scene would be the awkward reunion of the broken couples, with constant repeated dialogue to exaggerate the atmosphere. Sandrine sees a tattoo on Jimmy spelled “Villian” instead of “Villain.” At Sandrine’s departure, the waitress reveals her name to be Villian, matching the tattoo on Jimmy’s arm.

What is the conflict, change, disagreement, or realization?

The conflict is between the feelings of Jimmy and Sandrine. Jimmy still has feelings for Sandrine while Sandrine has completely moved on. Their conflicting feelings create awkwardness and by the time Sandrine leaves and Jimmy meets Villian, Jimmy realizes that he can finally move on from Sandrine with the aid of the tattoo.

What “idea” or “theme” or “concept” does the playwright want us to discover in this scene?

The idea that people shouldn’t look back at the dark past but rather look forward. The state Jimmy was in was a direct result of him looking into the past and not moving on. His state is contrasted by Sandrine’s, she appears happy and normal because she let go of the past. With the presence of Villian and “Villian” as a tool, the theme was conveyed when Jimmy looks forward to Villian.

This Hurts

Who are the characters in each scene? What do we know about them by reading the scene?

The scene of “This Hurts” contains two characters, Steve and Marvalyn. Steve is a person that supposedly has congenital analgesia, which is a medical condition that makes the person unable to feel pain at birth. Steve cannot feel pain, which is dangerous, so he was protected and cradled by his brother, which makes him pure and appears simple-minded. Marvalyn is a normal person, very caring since she helped Steve after accidentally knocking him with the ironing board.

What is the world of the characters before the scene begins? What happens in this scene? What is the world of the characters when the scene ends?

Marvalyn has a boyfriend, who now lives in this area because their house collapsed due to the snow. Steve has congenital analgesia and is sitting on a bench without reason. Marvalyn accidentally knocks Steve with the ironing board and his experience with analgesia unfolds. He explains that his brother taught him that “love” is on the list of “things to hurt you,” but Marvalyn denies that claim. Marvalyn then kisses him, then Steve was able to feel pain after another accident. After that, they both sat there in awkwardness.

What is the conflict, change, disagreement, or realization?

The conflict was between Steve’s brother’s teachings and Marvalyn’s morals. His brother thinks that it is love causes pain, but Marvalyn disagrees with that. The change is Steve moving out of his brother’s teachings when he realized love doesn’t hurt, and he restored his sense of pain.

What “idea” or “theme” or “concept” does the playwright want us to discover in this scene?

The playwright wants the reader to understand that people should attempt things at least once in their lives. The feelings of “love” supported the theme. Love depends for each person, it may be painful or not. However, a person would only know that if they were to attempt “loving” first, then they can decide.

Getting it Back

Who are the characters in “Getting is Back”? What do we know about them by reading the scene?

This scene consists of two characters: Gayle and Lendall. Lendall is a man who loves Gayle very much and that is all that we know about Lendall. Perhaps he is also a patient person as he waited eleven years to propose to Gayle. Gayle appears to be a woman who loves Lendall very much, but a misunderstanding leads Gayle to think of ending the relationship.

What is the “Stasis” or the world of the play for the characters before the scene starts? what is the “Intrusion” the thing that changes their stasis?

Gayle and Lendall were dating each other for a very long time, and a misunderstanding lead the relationship to deteriorate on one-side. The passive rejection of getting married or not was the intrusion that changed their stasis.

What is the conflict, change, disagreement, or realization?

The conflict is between Lendall’s feelings and Gayle’s feelings. Lendall still loves Gayle and wants to become married but Gayle doesn’t want to marry after being supposedly turned down. When Gayle returned her “love,” she requested to return her “love” but only to realize it was a ring inside.

What “idea” or “theme” or “concept” does the playwright want us to discover in this scene?

Cariana wants us to understand that objects are worth more than their price tag, as the object can represent feelings and emotions. “Getting it Back” uses love as an example as a feeling and the ring as an object to express the idea. It also reminds people to cherish their “physical” possessions and to treat it with care, such as the “love” that people receive demonstrated in the story.

They Fell

Who are the characters in “They Fell”? What do we know about them by reading the scene?

The characters in this scene consist of Randy and Chad, two guys who are “hanging out.” Randy and Chad both share similar experiences and traits, they are both quite “manly” in a sense, they are each other’s best friend, and they just broke up.

What is the “Stasis” or the world of the play for the characters before the scene starts? what is the “Intrusion” the thing that changes their stasis?

Randy and Chad had their respective partners before the intrusion. Both guys were doing well in their relationship but an unexpected turn of events led to the intrusion, where they both become single again.

What is the conflict, change, disagreement, or realization?

The conflict is between the feelings of Randy and Chad and societal morals. Chad demonstrated the conflict perfectly by being reluctant to express his feelings, clearly because it is a homosexual relationship between two males. In 2004, Maine finally allowed same-sex relationships, but not same-sex marriages yet. At the time of writing, it was probably before this change. The negative societal values due to Christianity looked down upon same-sex couples. Randy being the passive character, he refuses and denies his feelings, but in the end, he realizes his love is more important than what society says.

What “idea” or “theme” or “concept” does the playwright want us to discover in this scene?

The theme of the scene is that “love isn’t restricted.” You can love anything or anyone, perhaps not even a physical object. Just because society frowns upon the love between certain people and/or people+objects, it doesn’t mean that you can’t love. The grim reminder of forbidden love through “They Fell” gives assurance to those suffering and advocates other types of love (other than heterosexual).

February 25 Class Reflection

  • What did you do for this class session?

I worked on an improvisation prompt and compared a before and after with a relaxation warmup in-between. The improvisation prompt required me to be a watchmaker who didn’t know how to fix a rare watch they have never encountered before. I listened to relaxation music as provided, and attempted the prompt again.

  • How did you respond to what you did in class? or, what did you notice about what you did?

I tried my best for the first attempt, and I relaxed with the video. During the second attempt, I was more confident with my movements, actions, and facial expressions. I was given time to think and revise what I have done. I was more steady and consistent with my acting after the relaxation.

  • What is something that you learned about theatre that is NEW to you?

The new experience I had in acting after relaxation was completely new to me. Though I know that relaxation can contribute to better acting, I never did understand it. Now I finally did, and I understand the importance of relaxation.

  • What is something that either supports or reinforces what you already knew about theatre?

This learning experience reinforces the fact of how hard theater is. To pull off a good act, one must master many aspects of self-expression and go through countless repetitions of practice and that includes the process of preparation.

 

 

Stanislavsky’s 7 Questions

1. Who am I?

Start with the basics and then fill in the gaps with your imagination. Pick apart the script to find out what type of person your character is; what they look like, what they believe, how others describe them and so on. Think about your character’s past and the significant events/people that influenced them and made them who they are in the script.

Though there the monologue doesn’t provide much information on the character so most of it is up to interpretation. I think that they look like they are somewhat fed up with their current situation and are unable to express themselves properly. The person kept their feelings bottled up for too long and then broke his calm and collected presentation. He would be a person to never say “idiot” and to maintain formality at all times. He believes that knowledge and deep-thinking (philosophy) is what is important, and whoever does things that go against him he gets triggered. His indirect involvement in a certain incident left scars by people who didn’t know what they were saying, which made him very frustrated in those who make superficial and meaningless comments.

2. Where am I?

The script will usually tell you where you are but the important thing for an actor is to consider how the character feels about the place they are in. Characters act differently in public than they do in private. People move differently when they are cold vs. when they are too hot. The space your character occupies can determine how they behave during a scene.

The character is talking to someone else in a private meeting. They are sitting at the dinner table at home when the other person started babbling about useless things. The character is sitting there listening lightheartedly, losing attention after he realized the subject.

3. What time is it?

Year, season, month, day, and time of day should all be described. Then, think about how the specific time of the play changes the character’s action. If it’s set in Victorian England, voice and proper etiquette will be different than San Francisco in the 1960s.

It should be within the past few years. The weather is very fair and the sun has set. The date doesn’t matter and the month is April. The time when the character starts speaking should be when the other finishes his part.

4. What do I want?

This is a character’s primary motivation for everything they do in a scene. All actions should be executed with the goal of getting what you want from the other characters in the scene. This is also called a character’s objective.

He wants to convey his trapped feelings for years, but after he realized he lost his level-minded attitude he quickly ends the conversation. He wants to tell his friend what he has been feeling but ultimately he couldn’t say it.

5. Why do I want it?

There must be a driving force behind your objectives on stage that is your justification. We all have reasons for doing what we do and characters are no different. Give your character a convincing reason for acting and you automatically generate high stakes which lead to tension.

6. How will I get what I want?

Use your dialogue, movements, and gestures to try to influence the other characters to give you what you want i.e., accomplish your objective. This is also called a character’s tactic. If one tactic fails, try a new one and see if that works.

I want to exaggerate my body movements to show that I am trying to let go of emotion, my expression is going to be “fed up.” At the last sentence, I want to suddenly change from an expressive to submissive stance, to show that I have overdone myself. My voice will first be loud, in the end, I will be very quiet and will sit back down quickly.

7. What must I overcome to get what I want?

There is always something stopping you from achieving your objective. If there wasn’t an obstacle, then there would be no “drama” Usually, there is someone or something in the outside world impeding a character’s advancement and also some internal conflict with which they struggle. Find what it/they are and fight against them with the scene. This is also called a character’s obstacle.

To the character, the obstacle is himself. He can’t get over himself and feels trapped. Whenever he tries to speak he can’t speak. He finally found the way to speak yet he couldn’t manage to keep going. His frustration can be seen from the outside.

 

Do the answers work? Do you need to change anything in your answer? Do the answers make sense with the words you are delivering?

Yes, it helped me a lot when I read the monologue out again. I felt like I had a “goal” to work towards instead of improvising. Not improvising and having a vision means that my acting skills went up by a notch. The answer makes sense with the words I was delivering. If I didn’t define the objectives, settings, and the character, my monologue could’ve been very unpersuasive and fake.

 

Why Acting is So Much More Than It Appears to Be

The article explains the profession of acting is very challenging and takes years to practice. The reason why the article explains this is because many believe acting is very straightforward and simple. The skill of acting itself is to be subtle and natural so the audience can’t tell that they are actually acting. Every small detail and the way the actor presents themselves are intentional to make it look as natural as possible, fooling the audience.

https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/acting-much-appears-3407/

I used to think that acting wasn’t such a hard thing to do (not that easy), and now I think that acting is very tough and challenging, and no one can master it easily.

I am now more aware of how the actor itself is important to create a character, and how every detail involved is intentional. This intrigues me to look for more detail when watching a play to see how an actor conveys the character’s feelings. When I said “no one can master it easily,” can the art of acting and theater really be mastered? When prompted, the answer is yes. When put into further thought, the answer is no. There is an infinite amount of scenarios which means an actor can’t possibly master and improvise for all of them. This question is very interesting and provokes future discussion.

The Solo Actor – Monologues

Below is the monologue that I have chosen:

“A man lives in his mind, not in a place. No use explaining it to you. I’d be wasting my time. Idiots. A world of idiots and illiterates, too damn dense to comprehend the most basic laws governing their own existence. What does the name of Plato mean to them? Or Beethoven or Spinoza or Rembrandt? Idiots. But everybody has something to say; everybody has an opinion to give you. But do they have the background, the training, the mental discipline, to give you an opinion on the facts? On objectivity? On scientific comprehension? Oh, no. Not that. But they all babble, right?”

This monologue stood out to me because I feel it has a somewhat close resemblance to my views. It reminds me of when I try to have a deep and productive conversation with another when they can’t follow and don’t give an appropriate response. Some individuals can’t figure to understand certain things, things that I find easy to comprehend and I just think why can’t they figure that out? I understand that some are better at certain subjects while others are not, so I have to help them to understand. Sometimes, I just give up trying to explain and become a little pessimistic, and my inner response is similar to the monologue above. Not only that, but I see some people babble about useless things everyday, superficial things that most people wouldn’t care about. Those people don’t bother stopping to consider the truths and specifically, the philosophy of everything.

In the first few sentences, it seems like the subject is ranting about someone’s incompetence and lack of knowledge. However, when the names of Plato, Beethoven, Spinoza, and Rembrandt shows up, it is clear that the subject is talking about philosophy and thinking as a whole. Plato is generally deemed as one of the most important philosophers in the western world. Spinoza was a great thinker of philosophy in the seventeenth century. while Beethoven and Rembrandt were philosophers of music and art, respectively. I interpreted the subject as trying to talk about how most people are too soaked up in their lives that they don’t take a look at the fundamentals. The subject is stating that everyone is living in their superficial lives and they have no credibility and experience to give a good opinion, thus causing the subject to call everyone else’s talking as “babbling.”

The Rules of Improvization

1) Say “Yes”

Saying “Yes” will carry on the topic, opening up new opportunities. “No” will negate the previous topic, resetting the conversation to a certain degree.

2) Say, “Yes, and…”

Including “and” will bring upon a new topic and brings upon collaboration between the people who are improvising.

3) Make statements, don’t ask questions

4) Go with the flow of the scene

Don’t push the scene into a certain direction, keep it natural.

5) There are no mistakes only opportunities

The mistakes call upon new ways of learning and may take the improvisation in a new direction.

6) It doesn’t always have to be funny

 

 

 

My Earliest Theater Memory

My earliest theater memory was in first grade, 2010. It was a winter performance at my old school where the entire grade must collaborate in a play. For us, it was The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky. We spent two months preparing for it, and there were lines on the ground we had to follow for our choreography. Some students got characters with voiced lines, while others got no voiced lines and consisted of the background. I was one of the Nutcracker soldiers, where we would all march in unison. I never understood why I had to this in that, or why I had to participate. At that time, I just blindly followed the person in front of me. I was the second solider in front, we learned how to march in unison, look to one side, and the directions made me feel dizzy. I remember the night before we had to perform, I was putting my bright red clothing on. We heard the music come on and the winding box, we all marched outside based on how we performed. When I stepped on the proscenium stage, the bright lights and hot air blasted into my face. I tried to replicate what I would learn but to no clue of how well I have actually performed. I only got to march for a few minutes and another few minutes in the second act. I tried to find my parents in the sea of masses but to no avail. After the play, I was sweating and still had no idea what I did.

9 Effective Ensemble Member Qualities

  1. Risk-taker (trying out sensible ideas to figure out if they work, which can be constructive)
  2. Positive and energetic
  3. Aware and in control (of space and actions)
  4. Focused
  5. Active listeners
  6. Cooperative and collaborative
  7. Efficient
  8. Leaders and followers
  9. Positively critical and able to act on criticism (respond accordingly)

Which of the ensemble member qualities do you feel you would like to work on this semester and why?

I feel like I should work on risk-taking this semester. The branch of performing arts is a completely new area I have not encountered before. To be successful, I need to understand how different things work by taking risks. Although the other eight qualities are just as important, I believe that risk-taking is the most beneficial quality at the moment. I believe I am quite successful of being efficient, working on projects at my highest efficiency to get work done at high quality.

Scenic Design Challenge: A Nightmare

SCENIC DESIGN CHALLENGE PJ ENTRY

 

  1. Three pictures of my design. 

2)  Describe/explain what we are looking at.

This is a scene where there are many sharp objects. There is a heart in the middle, and being ruthlessly stabbed by nails and screws. You can also see a huge sign saying “DIE” and a knife with dripping blood. One of the features I’m definitely the proudest in are the cobwebs.

 

3) Describe/explain the elements of your design.

Ever since I can remember, I always had a fear of sharp objects (being stabbed or cut) and spiders. For sharp objects, the workshop offered many materials. Nails, screws, and blades all could be used. I even hammered some pins to make it seem warped and distorted to emphasize that it is a dream. I used hot glue guns to make cobwebs. I tried to make some things rest on top of it, like things that are going to be eaten. Even though I am not afraid of blood, I am aware that many people are. That’s why I spray painted many areas red and spray painted hot glue for extra effect.

4) Where were you successful?

I think I was able to make a very detailed perspective of a nightmare, displaying many fears in one small stage. The cobwebs are the reason why my project looks very realistic. The sword stuck to the wall was also a very creative idea using nails coming from the outside.

5) Improvement

There are many aspects of improvement in my project. The main area for improvement is how you can actually use this in real life. The number of props, sharp objects, and cobwebs on the stage can reduce the amount of stage available. The actors might get stuck or tangled in fake cobwebs.