Coral

"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious" - Albert Einstein

Category: Acting and Ensemble

Bean’s Uta Hagen’s Nine Questions

1. Who am I? Who is your character? Identify all the details: name/age, physical traits, relatives, education, personal opinions, likes, dislikes, hobbies, fears, ethics, and beliefs.

I am Bean, a 16-year old that’s somewhat normal (except for this weird affection towards Travis). I am very protective of my name and I don’t like how Travis wears his Ascott ribbon all the time.

2. What time is it? The year, the season, the day, the minute. What is the significance of time?

Early evening on Halloween, close to winter getting colder (possibly wearing a jacket or sweater). They just finished a picnic and are on their way back home.

3. Where am I? Identify the country, the city/town, the neighborhood, the building, the room, the specific area of the room.

This happens in St.Claire, Minnesota at a sidewalk near a gentle meadow that’s making that gentle meadow sound. They are on their way back to town after a delightful picnic.

4. What surrounds me? What is happening in the environment around you? Weather, landscape, people, animate/inanimate objects.

As they are walking back, they are on a sidewalk near a meadow. We walked over to a bench and I took the Ascott ribbon off.

5. What are the given circumstances? Identify events in the past, present, future. What has happened, what is happening, what is going to happen?

My name comes from a story in the past so it means something to me. Travis does not like my name and neither do I like his Ascott ribbon.  I convince him to take his Ascotto ribbon off and I would change my name. His head fell off after I took the ribbon off but Travis is still alive.

6. What are my relationships? This is more than your relationship with other people. Think about your relationship to objects, characters, and events.

This is my fifth date with Travis, I didn’t know that we were officially dating yet but I guess we are now. I like him but he wears the Ascott ribbon all the time and it’s getting annoying.

7. What do I want? What do you want immediately? What does the character want overall?

I want him to take his Ascott ribbon off because I think his mom is controlling him and I think he is mature enough to not be controlled anymore.

8. What is in my way? What are the obstacles to getting what you want?

He believes that his mom is right so it was hard to convince him to take his Ascott ribbon off. I had to give up my name in order to convince him.

9. What do I do to get what I want? What actions do you take (both physically and verbally)? What tactics?

I told him I was going to change my name into something that he wants but it does not mention that I actually changed it.

Page to Stage: Where is the Dragon?

For this performance, where we took a children’s book and “dramatized it,” my role in the development process was mainly giving new ideas and engaging within the performance. I took on the part of Knight 2 in this story, a frightened knight who is scared of the “dragon” that is only in their heads. Through looking at the feedback the audience gave, the response was relatively positive. The children were fully engaged with our dramatic reading performance and gave some reactions to the show. During the show, I felt some tension between the kindergarten kids since we had such a big age difference. They might’ve been overwhelmed by the fact that there were high schoolers in their library. I could also tell that the kids weren’t entirely comfortable meeting many strangers coming in at once, but they still enjoyed the show as they were engaged. Children at this age cannot express their engagement as well as adults who will respond reactively. We could tell that they were interested in our performance even though they didn’t give us as much response. Their eyes were focused entirely throughout the show. As a performer in this piece, I felt confident with our performance to the ES kids. Another stressful area about this project was that it was designed to perform in an unfamiliar environment. The stage we performed on wasn’t conventional; it had stairs attached to it, uneven stairs, other holes on the floor and walls. We also only got 15 minutes to be in that area to practice our scene, so we weren’t familiar with it. To solve that problem, we took out our phones, uploaded them onto an iPad, and talked as a team where each person would be standing on stage. That gave us a clearer image of what it was going to be like on stage. This gave me experience in being able to adapt quickly to newer environments. Another experience that has been gained was being able to express each and every line with enunciation and projection on stage, also including body language and facial expressions. This is especially important when you are performing to a younger audience.

To keep their attention, the entire performance has to be engaging through your words and actions. Since we didn’t have many lines because it was a children’s book, each line had to be expressed with great emotion. For example, “Well, the kind forewarned. Their tails stab the dark like thorns”. When I was delivering this line, I had eye contact with the audience like I was telling something serious, bent down my body, and rose the sword to emphasize the scariness of the “dragon.” I especially enunciated on “t” “d” “k” and “the” in this sentence so the kids can hear what I am saying, even if they don’t understand the words, they can sense the emotion. After the entire show, I heard many people talking about their points of view on the performance. Not everyone was in the same group for this activity, so it was pretty interesting to listen to some groups being more positive and some not so much about their performance. In my perspective, I loved everyone’s performance, and I was actively listening to everyone’s show.

I observed some kids’ responses to their performances, and I could tell they loved everyone’s show. Some leading topics that we talked about during the discussion were audience, senses, and practice. The main reason for the audience was that we expected them to be much more enthusiastic with responses about the performance but what we didn’t know was that because they were so young, they may have been a bit shy to express their engagement. That made most of us self-conscious about our performance even though they were constantly engaged expressed by their language. Reflection on our performance, we thought about including senses other than sight into our routine. We had drums used for marching and other sound effects. That could’ve been a reason for some excitement in the audience. What most of us did not know about this performance was that it was designed to be done in a short amount of time in an unfamiliar environment which made more practice harder for us. Some groups were even missing some people who made practice even harder for them. 

  • Planning (Planning each practice before you come to practice. This may be talking with your ensemble and )
  • Practice Practice Practice! (If you don’t think you have enough time during class, practice on your own time! Practicing more before a performance can always make yourself more confident before going onstage!)
  • Reflect (Reflecting after each performance as a group and by yourself is the primary way for more successful performances in the future!)

My Monologue

I started by looking for a script that I felt connected with, which I thought would be comfortable for me. We did Stanislavsky exercises that began to give me thoughts on my monologue. I learned how to get into my character and dive into her mindset. I needed to lose all of my thoughts and step in her shoes to put on an expressive monologue.

My monologue was moderately successful because I couldn’t focus much on relaxation during the performance. When I look at myself in the video, I look a bit too tense and nervous onstage. I spoke too fast, and I was not enunciating enough on my lines which affected my communication. I could think like an actor and respond to my imagination by performing because not everything I did onstage was planned. I gave myself some room to explore new ideas through improv onstage. For example, I didn’t expect to hold my head while screaming, but I was still doing it because I was within the character. When my character is in that situation, I assume that she would respond with my body language. Another example of the detail in my scene was the ending, where I looked back at my parents to show a sign of disappointment. I learned how to memorize and recall sensations from working at a slight sensation and expanding it. I took something as small as a gaze in the eye into a gaze, paused, then looked down at the floor to show my feeling of dismay.

The technique that could affect me as a performer was being concentrated and having my emotions involved in the scene so that my imagination could come through. I can act like my character and link experiences that I have had with the monologue. When I was performing, I didn’t think about the audience or what I had for lunch that day. I was focused on my character to show my most profound connections with her and how that will be expressed on stage.

I used to think that being an actor was building more characteristics of the character upon yourself. Now I believe that to be one with your character. You have to lose yourself and become “a blank piece of paper” then draw a picture (with sparkles because you are a star and you have your imagination within this character) on you. Through this monologue, I tried to limit myself to what I would say if I were just to read a paragraph of a document. Instead, I learned to analyze what this girl has gone through and put in a spark of my imagination.

Improvisation

One activity that I remember very clearly was where two people sat on a box and one person was given a prompt to start the scene and the two characters could control anything else they wanted. We had to establish our characters pretty fast in the scene but we didn’t really claim that in our show. This specific exercise really puts the improvisors on the spot because we just have to go with the flow and anything that we say would affect the trail of the scene. Overall, it was a very fun way method to practice improvising.

  1. “I used to think/and now I think…” before coming to this class and doing Improvisation, what did you think and now after several classes, what do you think now?

I used to think improv was just something that we use onstage for performances or if we forget a line, but it’s actually going on everyday in your live. After taking some classes with Mr.Redman, I changed my perspective on improv because we practice our improv skills even when we don’t know we are. I think our theatre improvisation class isn’t just “learning improv” it’s having fun and finding joy in the act of performing.

  1. What is a BIG TAKEWAY or BIG LEARNING or BIG IDEA about improvisation that you will remember? Why will that stick with you?

The biggest takeaway about improvisation is the theatre atmosphere here in this classroom. It will stick with me forever because of my peers and teacher that I am learning with. The joyful atmosphere in improv class teaches us how to use the 7 skills of improvisation in our live in and out of class.

  1. During Improvisation, what did you do well? Describe/explain. What did you struggle with? Describe/explain. And what will help you to become better as an actor or ensemble member

During improvisation, I think I did well on “yes” but I struggled with “and”. I can agree with what another person says and continue with the flow but I don’t think I am able to think of new idea (and) and add on another layer to the scene fast enough. A lot of times, my mind goes blank and I can’t think of anything or I think of questions that won’t build on the theme. Te main reason is because my body tenses up and I can’t talk like in a normal conversation and I just don’t know what to say.

Qualities of an effective ensemble member

  1. Risk Taker (willing to be open-minded to new things/ideas)
  2. Positive and energetic  (have a good attitude towards everything)
  3. Aware and in control (observe how your actions impact other people)
  4. Focused (concentrate on what you’re doing)
  5. Active listener (find out how you can cooperate with other people’s ideas into yours )
  6. Cooperative and collaborative (work alongside your peers)
  7. Leaders and followers (know when it is your turn to step up or step back)
  8. Positively Critical and able to act on that criticism (constructive criticism/positive feedback)

I think i need to work on being a risk taker and positively critical and able to act on that criticism. I find myself not able to be creative and try new things when I am given a topic of script. I get embarrassed and awkward onstage especially for improvisation because I have no preparation time. A performance in general i’d call it an art with practice, improv is more of using those theatre skills and create something that is random but with content. That makes it a lot harder for me because I like to be sure that I know exactly what I am going to do with all of my cues set, lines remembered, spending nights with a microphone singing in my room until I can get all the harmonies perfect. Although it is still taking risks for being onstage but taking a step forward from that would be improvisation. Secondly, positively critical and able to act on that criticism. See, growing up I had a bad habit of criticizing everyone… in the bad way but unintentionally. I use to get in a lot of trouble with that but now it’s a lot better. Still, it’s hard for me to not judge someone based on their performance, but I can give feedback that are phrased and have a more positive attitude. Being able to act on that criticism has never been easy for me. I can’t say I’m a perfectionist but I definitely get very self-aware about something someone said about me and being too tense. A main focus of drama is having fun in my opinion and enjoying the stage. If every time I open my mouth for my line or to sing, I am very conscious because of something someone else said to me before. I really don’t think that is a show that I am ready to put on yet. This semester, I want to be able to transfer criticism into energy and use that as improvement for a show.

My Earliest Theatre Memory

The first musical I ever performed was in grade 5, We Are Monsters. I played the role of the “Main Vampire”. I first decided to join drama because of my sister, she also started drama from middle school and I wanted to be just like her. Turned out, I loved drama and being onstage so I continued throughout middle school. We basically just followed the traditional drama practices from auditions to running lines to one to one practices to off book to costumes to mics then the show. This experience taught me how a lot of techniques that I continued using in drama club and theatre class. I remember learning how to breathe and now I can say I can breathe pretty well. The show was fine but I remember very clearly that there was a moment of silence when I was “mad” (in the show) and my mind suddenly went blank but I continued to talk with the same tone even if I didn’t know the lines and I got back on track again. Overall, it was not the best experience but it definitely helped me build a hard base for my theatre progress.

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