Final Acting Scene

How do you feel now that you have finished the final acting scene? I feel relieved because I was nervous the entire week during rehearsals and when I was practicing  lines by myself at home. I also feel a bit sad because finishing the final acting scene also mark the end of this semester long theater course. I will certainly miss this fun class and my ensemble members; I certainly feel more connected to them now compared to the very first day of class.

I used to think/now I think – in regards to preparing for your final acting scene. I used to think preparing the final acting scene would be boring because a lot of memorization is required and we would not get to do as much fun actitives and acting games as we used to. Now I think preparing the final acting scene is interesting because the script is engaging and developing a scene from scratch, watching it grow and take its shape, is such an amazing experience.

What did you do well? Your ensemble? I did well in doing the technical skills such as memorizing all my lines. Moreover, I did well in doing some improv acts during the scene, like the part where I slightly punched Lydia when I was teasing her. I think that came our really natural since I do that to my friends all the time when we are having a conversation. Also, I believe this  indicates that as an ensemble, as we rehearsed and collaborated with each other for some time now, we became closer and the spontaneous actions just flowed seamlessly into our acting. Lastly, my ensemble did an excellent job at encouraging each other and picking up from each other’s mistakes.

What do you feel you could do better on in the future? One thing I noticed immediately is that my black winter jacket blended in with the background curtains, especially when I started the scene  in the corner of the stage, where the lights did not shine so brightly. This is not visually appealing to the audience. For improvement, I will wear colorful clothes like the purple jacket Lydia was wearing, as it is better suited for the stage set up. Another thing I feel that I could do better is controlling my volume. My volume sometimes gets louder not because it is needed in the scene, but because I suddenly remembered that I need to speak up. This would seem a bit awkward and confusing to the audience because at times they might struggle to make out what I am saying, while sometimes I am speaking abnormally loud.

Connect the process of creating a character, developing performance and performance to YOU in the future. I learnt so much in theater class this semester and I will certainly bring the valuable takeaways with me in the future. For me, the best way of creating a character is to first “meet” with them. I will read over the script and picture the scene in my head, I also keep in mind that this is just an initial image, as the final performance could look completely different from now. As I become familiar with the lines and could go off script, this is where I start acting it out, brining the sciprt to life! Developing a performance requires time, focus, and energy; there would be also be constant discussion and feedback happening during the process. Of course, the final performance is the best part of the entire process, and I have learnt that it is not quite the same as the feedback session performances that happen often in class.

Improvisation

Thinking about the ‘rules of improvisation’ – which area do you think you grew during the improvisation exercises? I think I grew in the areas of being an active listener and going with the scene’s flow. Especially in longer improvisation exercises like the “who, what, and where” one we did in groups of four with the cards, a lot could go wrong since we did not have a lot of preparation time. Therefore, in order to construct a scene, listening to each other is key. Someone might say something out of the blue to try and push the scene forward, instead of breaking the flow and bringing it back to my pace, I learnt to follow the offer and act upon what my ensemble members said in a natural manner. I was able to take in my ensemble members’ actions and follow my instinct to produce a smooth scene.

Which exercises or games were the most enjoyable for you and why? The most enjoyable ones were the park bench and the who, what, and where exercises.  I like the park bench one because my ensemble members would come up with really interesting acts and it often surprises me how much things we could all come up with.  This exercise also pushes our thinking because as we did multiple rounds, our ideas get used up, and we have to think of something quickly. The other exercise is the one where we were in groups of four and Mr. Redman picked three cards for us to depict a scene. This is a long improvision exercise and it was fun to see how things would end up. Since we only have a couple of minutes to prepare, there was no way to plan the entire scene out that quickly. When we started acting, there were a lot of surprises. Someone may say something random out of instinct, and the other members have to actively listen and act upon that in order to make the scene flow smoothly.

How have you begun to think differently about the process of acting and improvisation because of the improvisation unit? I think the biggest change for me is that I started viewing improvisation as something fun instead of something terrifying. Before, I was afraid that I would mess up, my mind would go black, and the entire act would turn awkward. However, after this unit, after having loads of practices and learning about the “rules of improvisation,” I am used to acting spontaneously and thinking quickly on the spot. As a result, the process, the uncertainty in improvisation becomes something exciting.

How might YOU use improvisation techniques in the future? I think the techniques could be applicable to various aspects. For instance, in a group project and everyone is brainstorming on a topic, instead of saying no to all the “weird” ideas, I could say “yes, and” so that the idea that may not seem feasible in the beginning might actually turn into a brilliant one that everyone agrees upon. Another example is in social events, instead being scared to speak up and quietly asking questions, I could be an active listener and seek opportunities to make offerings to people.

Sound Exercise

Describe the exercise that you did in class.

Today in class we practiced one of Stanislavski’s methods of acting- using our imagination as actors. We immersed ourselves in our own imaginations by listening to Mr. Redman’s guiding voice and the backtrack of the water splashing, the rain, the jungle, thunder, etc. We should stay in character and try our best to not get distracted by others.

Talk about your engagement with the activity – how much effort did you put into it and how did that work for you?

For the first part of the activity where we lay on the floor, I was engaged and was able to follow Mr. Redman’s directions. I think closing my eyes helped me to concentrate, and I was able to relax and really get into the “zone.” When it was time to explore the jungle, I could not say that I was 100% engaged all the time. Since the timespan of the activity was quite long, I found it difficult to always stay in my own imaginary world. I would repeatedly tell myself to stay in character and to not to think of other things. Also, my mind got a bit tired near the middle of the activity because I had to picture everything and act it out accordingly. Some parts were easier than others, for instance, canoeing in the storm and avoiding the darts were easier to picture than opening an unknown package in the wrecked house.

Tell me the story journey that you went on.

After “waking up” and arriving at the unknown island, I surveyed the surrounding; I was facing the ocean and a jungle is behind me. After further exploration of the beach, I went to the jungle. It started raining softly at first, then it became a big storm. I went and hid under a tree with huge leaves.  I waited until the rain stopped and realized that I was starving. I did not have any hunting tools, so I looked for fruits. While eating, a wind-beaten cottage caught my attention. Inside, I found a neatly wrapped package lying on the table. Out of curiosity, I untied the package and discovered coffee grounds, with tiny pieces of gold nuggets. Suddenly, I heard people shouting. Scared, I put the package back in its original place and hurried out of the cottage. Away from all of that, I followed the sound of the stream and found fresh water to drink. However, I sensed someone staring at me. I slowly turned around and saw a pair of eyes staring down at me from the trees. The owner, a child, shouted something in a language that I did not understand. I also heard others, adult voices, responding to the child. I crept away, then a dart came in my direction, landing right next to my head. I kept on moving and another dart came at me. I need to escape and found my hope when I spotted a canoe about 20 meters away from me. I went on the canoe and started rowing. The group that shooter darts at me chased me and also got on their boats. They kept on throwing darts, I ducked while rowing frantically. The ocean waves became huger and huger, splashing water into my canoe. Lastly, my canoe flipped and I landed in the water. Surprisingly, the water felt warm and familiar- I came back to the reality.

Konstantin Stanislavsky Notes

  • Born in Russia, 1863
  • Actor -> Director and teacher
  • Saw a lot of bad acting- melodrama was prevalent
  • Stanislavsky wanted actors to shape/build the character from inside out
  • Stanislavsky System- character development process that strives to make a performance real- drawing on the real inside life of the actor (memories)

5 elements of actor preparation

  1. Relaxation
  2. Concentration
  3. Observation
  4. Communication
  5. Imagination
  1. What did you do in class today? (Summary)

Today in class we did some warm up games- person A imitates and touches the objects person B touched. Then, we took notes on Konstantin Stanislavsky, he developed the Stanislavsky System. Later we did an improvisation which we pretended to be watchmakers working in our studio. After that, we laid down on the floor and followed a set of instructions from an audio. The speaker told us to relax, and sometimes tighten our muscles, then to be aware of our entire body. Lastly, we went back to being watchmakers and ended the class with the same improvisation.

2. What did you learn that was new to you? (Perception)

I learned about Konstantin Stanislavsky and his system, the five elements of actor preparation, and how to specifically conduct the first two- relaxation and concentration.

3. What did you do that confirmed something you already knew about theatre? (Connection)

Something that I already knew about theatre is the fact that in order to be a successful actor, he or she need to understand the character from the inside out. It is not enough to simply study their outer appearances and dialogues, but to also experience the charater’s inner thoughts and feelings. The actor need to explore the character’s motives in order to justify the meaning behind their various actions and what the character seeks to achieve at different circumstances. I knew all of these, but I did not know the name and person who came up with these ideologies/system.

4.What was the “concept” or “big idea” from today? (Transfer)

The big idea from today’s lesson is to understand about Konstantin Stanislavsky and his famous acting system. Moreover, to explore the first two elements of an actor’s preparation- relaxation and concentration. Each helping us to eliminate physical tension while performing, think like an actor, and respond to one’ own imagination

5. What differences did you notice between the first time you did the exercise and the last? If you didn’t notice HUGE changes, refer back to prompts 2 & 4 and see if you can come up with something for this. (Analysis)

The first time when I did the exercise, I thought it was only going to last for a couple of minutes, but it lasted longer than I anticipated. As time passed, I found it difficult to concentrate because I am not famliar with the watch fixing process, and I soon ran out of possible things to act out. My hands started repeating the same movements, my body became a bit stiff from sitting upright in my pretended working station in the studio, and my mind wondered somewhere else. However during the last time, my motions were smoother and I felt comfortable in the sitting position. I was able to sense every part of my body ad incorporate them into my acting- bend down to pick up tools from the tool box next to my chair, rotate the upper half of my body to check out the watch under better lighting, etc. Also, when laying down and listening to the audio, it felt like a meditation process. I was able to practice mindfulness and become fully aware of my being and actions in the studio. Thus, I became super focused in my watchmaker’s job and could imagine myself fixing the watch more vividly.

 

Stanislavsky 7 Questions

Who am I?

  • I am a housewife and my husband Johnny work in the local office. This is our first year being married and I am already pregnant; we are expecting a baby boy. Our neighbors view me as the perfect wife- I clean the house, cook, and stay up late every night to wait for Johnny to come home. I rarely have time for myself because I am so busy everyday with chores.

Where am I?

  • I am in the living room of my house and my old friend from high school, Polo, is visiting me. He is urging me to tell Johnny the truth about this marriage and criticizing my actions. I am furious because I do not need his interference and I do not want my husband to find out how I feel.

What time is it?

  • It is March 10th, 1989 in the United States. It is 10 pm on a Wednesday and my husband will arrive home any minute now.

What do I want?

  • I want Polo to leave the house right now before Johnny comes home. I also do not want Johnny to find out that I do not love him anymore; I just want to continue this life and prepare for the birth of my baby.

Why do I want it?

  • I want it because I do not want my baby to be born in a divorced family. I am willing to sacrifice my own happiness for him, for a complete family. I may not love Johnny, but he is still the father and provider of this family. I only know how to do house chores and I could not possibly find a job now.

How will I get what I want?

  • I will keep quiet and pretend to the outsiders that Johnny and I have a good marriage. I will be a responsible mother and give my fullest love to my baby.

What must I overcome to get what I want?

  • Right now, Polo is in the way because he is making a big fuss over how I feel and my marriage; he is telling me all the things that I did wrong or should have done. I need him to leave house before Johnny comes home and to not mention anything in front of Johnny.

LIVE THEATRE EXPERIENCE: “Treasure Island”

1. What was the name of the performance? The name of the group performing?

The name of the performance is Treasure Island performed by the National Theatre of London

2. What did you notice about the performance?

I notice the circular rotating stage in the middle of the big stage and the dark night sky with hanging lights as stars. The attire, makeup, wigs, and accessories of each actor that make them distinctive.

3. What does the performance remind you of?

For some reason, the performance remind me of Peter Pan.

4. How did you feel during the performance?

During the play when the actors transformed the harbor into a ship, I was impressed by the different transformations of the stage. The final ship is truly magnificent.

During the play when the actors started climbing the ropes, I sweated for them because of my fear of heights and was concerned that they might fell.

5. What questions do you have about the performance?

What happened to the group of priates at the end? What happened to the treasure? What did the parrot say at the end?

6. What part of the performance did you enjoy the most? The least? Why do you think that is?

One thing I did not enjoy about this performance is that sometimes I could not make out what the actors are saying. They speak with a strong accent and not in the style of modern English.

The part which I enjoyed the most was when Ben Gunn first appeared because I think he is a really interesting character. Through his vivid acting, I can feel his pain of living in the island for three years by himself and his love for cheese 🙂

Working with Text: Choosing My Text

My monologue:

There’s no need to shout at me, Polo! Now you shut up! I don’t need you to tell me what I’ve been doing or what I haven’t been doing. Because I don’t love Johnny. I don’t love him. He hasn’t even so much as held my hands in months. He doesn’t talk, he’s always going, he’s a stranger. I thought he was so full of love… I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t matter anymore because I don’t love him, and I can’t tell him that.

9 Effective Ensemble Member Qualities

1. Risk taker– open to all possibilities and new ideas
2. Positive and energetic– willing to participate and are engaged
3. Aware and in control– be aware and in control of how your actions are affecting others
4. Focused– be on track
5. Active listener– hear and find ways to incorporate others’ words
6. Cooperative and collaborative – together
7. Efficient– use time wisely
8. Leaders and followers– knowing when to step down or up
9. Positively critical and able to act on that criticism– be open to feedbacks and improvement

I want to work on becoming an active listener and being able to act on criticism. I believe the ability to listen and accept all ideas shows respect to my fellow ensemble members. Also, I think I can be productive and make full use of this course if I am positively critical to myself and are willing to accept constant feedback to improve my skills. I can also help other members to improve by providing them with some effective feedback.

My First Theatrical Experience

I participated in a three day event called Cultrual Convention, where students from various international schools meet together to participate in workshops such as theatre, band, design, etc. My first theatrical experience was attending the physical and devised theatre workshop.

On the first day, we brainstormed the theme of our performance. We stood in front of a white board and started writing a mindmap. Everyone actively participated in sharing ideas, we added upon each others’ thoughts by connecting or elaborating them. Eventually, we decided on the topic of inclusivity.

The scenario we wanted to act out (it is a bit hard to put it into words and it may not seem to make any sense): a foreign transfer student is struggling to fit in to her new school. When the other students realized this issue, they started doing acts of kindness to include her into their social group. Another part of our performance was that everyone had a cut- out piece of a big pink heart. Every time someone did something to include the new student, we would split the scene, and everyone would gather a step closer to form a full heart. We did this by demonstrating physical theatre- a body machine where each person had a specific sound and movement to do.

The overall process went pretty smoothly; however, because it is devised theatre, we did not have a solid script to go along with. We did not say the exact same lines every time, resulting in small interuptions and random moments of silence where we forgot what to act next. Since we had a very limited amount of time to rehearse, I could not say that the performance went perfectly, but everyone tried their best to pull off a fantastic show. To summarize, I had loads of fun and made a lot of new friends during this theatrical experience. I learned this new branch of theatre and techniques to improve my speaking an acting skills.

A short clip from the performance
performance

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