Tuesday, June 29, 2010

DAY 17

This morning we had a double-session with Karen, finishing up the speeches we each selected, as several people were absent yesterday. I think that we've come to the point in the summer where we're all hovering around emotional exhaustion, after about a month of this training and real life marching on as well: A few people had overwhelming emotional moments in class not found in The Three Sisters, but managed to harness it to use it in their work. Personal troubles always find a way to come at the busiest times, and I'm so glad that our class is being so professional and supportive. We all continue to try to connect our thoughts to the words, instead of having the thought in a pause and then speaking after the fact.

In Acting For The Camera with Scott we finished the close-ups for American Psycho and Ghost World and, I must say, I think I may have missed my true calling: The marker. Who wouldn't love clapping that little board and announcing what's about to happen? The power can go to your head.

I didn't do my monologue in Hisa's Shakespeare class today, but of course learned just as much from watching my classmates go. I love the way Hisa describes the characters, and when a Luciana (from Comedy of Errors) had finished the first time, she explained how the character would see the world, and finally settled on "She has kitten posters in her room, you know?" A big focus for today was using the structure of the language for our own creative purposes, instead of being tied down to a certain way of saying it.


Our hour with Karen this morning was a little unorthodox as it consisted of brief one-on-one meetings discussing our personal progress instead of rehearsal. In my meeting, we agreed that the number one thing I need to continue to focus on is my vocal range and variety. Also, not slouching... my mother would be so ashamed.

We then had Improv with Greg for an hour, which felt strange because several people from our group were missing, for personal reasons or for auditions, so our team was a little off. We played the "Name Six" game and I couldn't think of famous bald men. As soon as the water bottle came back to me, I realized I could have just picked six Lakers and I would have been fine: "Kobe, damn it!" We also did an exercise where we each had to stand in front of the class and answer some sort of personal question. We had the option to lie if we didn't want to tell the truth, but we just had to convince the rest of the class. When it came time to pick apart who we thought had lied and why, it turned out most of our group had just told the truth. Clearly, we have no shame.

After lunch we had our normal, full-session Rehearsal class with Karen in which we showed off the speeches we'd selected for our characters. All of the women had to wear corsets for the first time, and I thought my ribs might explode. Turned out, it was a great tool for me because when it was my turn to do my speech, my hysterical laughter just about caused a panic attack for my lungs which made me able to cry, on stage, for the first time. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, not just shuddering and sounds to look like crying: real live water works. The next thing she had me work on was pausing less in between thoughts, or, as she likes to say, not being "promiscuous with your pauses."

Lastly, we had Advanced Technique with Hal. We worked with the idea of "Atmospheres" in which you imagine the atmosphere of your location or situation and absorbing the feelings it creates- for example, the feeling of reverence inside of a cathedral, or sorrow at a funeral. Going along with the church theme, Hal made us a sort of make-shift chapel using flats and blocks, and had us (and by us I mean the girls in the class) pretend to be nuns in a small Italian chapel, and the other half (the boys) be trouble-making, drunk American tourists. It was so funny to see how they could not keep up their shouting ways once they entered the atmosphere we were practically spitting out at them.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 15

This morning we got to start off our day in Voice class with Greg. Our group is especially lucky because we get to have this class first, stretching out our "oh-man-it's-the-last-day-of-the-week-and-I'm-exhausted" bodies, breathing, and relaxing, before going into any of our more stress-inducing classes. As we move from one modified yoga position to the next, our limbs involuntarily tremor and shake (or, that's the goal, at least), like when you are trying to do one last push-up and your arms quiver all over the place. Letting that tremor happen while breathing allows the breath to fill different parts of the body, and when you are in an unusual position, it can feel quite strange and vulnerable. We also did some partner stretching, and I am pretty sure I am going to be sore tomorrow.

Our second class of the morning was Audition with Joanne. We talked about headshots and resumes, and fortunately I had brought mine up to speed the night before. I also told everyone looking to get new headshots about The Rock Studio's current special (which is detailed on the image above). Then someone asked Joanne about how SCR became so damn successful, and she told us the whole story (read about it here: http://www.scr.org/about/scrstory.aspx) about how Martin and David and their friends started an acting company after college, moved it to Orange County, and became one of the most successful theatres in the country over a few short decades. It wasn't necessarily audition-related, but it was a pretty inspiring tale of overcoming the odds, which always seem to be stacked against you in an audition room.

In the afternoon, we had Advanced Technique with Hal as a combined large class. We briefly discussed Psychological Gestures, but mostly kept working on the imaginary life of our characters. One exercise involved imagining how a character would walk into a room, find a book, and open the book to find a note inside telling them that their greatest wish had come true. We got up in front of the class to act out what we had envisioned in our imaginations one by one, and it was interesting to see who decided to stick to what they had planned to do in their heads, and who decided to try something completely new once they were in the moment.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

DAY 14

This morning we had our Audition class with Joanne. We all went through our monologues to see the progress that we are making with them, etc, as some still need to be shortened a bit. We then started talking about pictures and resumes and letting Joanne look at them to edit them and make recommendations. When I saw everyone else's resumes I was too embarrassed to show mine today: It was formatted all pretty, with different colors and fonts. Apparently, that's not okay. So tonight I am going to re-do all of the formatting and show her tomorrow my new, black and white, standard edition resume. Also, she told someone else in the class that they needed to leave out their high school credits, and so I'll be taking off mine as well, which will make the whole thing a lot shorter. Sigh.

In Scott's Camera class we began filming the close-ups for our scenes. Girl, Interrupted didn't shoot today, so we were assigned different crew tasks. I was in charge of the script supervisor sheet, writing down the description of the scene and the time stamp for each shot, to be given to the editor so that he or she knows which take to print.

In Karen's Rehearsal class today we attacked Act IV of The Three Sisters, which is essentially where it hits the fan emotionally speaking. I did the Irina scene where she tells the Baron she doesn't love him and can't do anything about it. Karen had us (literally) run laps across the front of the stage and do it again, heart rates up and out of breath, and this time it was so much more high stakes and high emotions- we were both fuming. Then she had us put our scripts down and do the scene using our own words, which basically led to us shouting at each other. Then we moved on to the scene where Masha and Vershinin have to say goodbye to one another. Both actor pairs playing these parts broke my heart in this scene, it was so beautiful and heart-breaking. I played Irina both times, and the scene immediately following the kiss goodbye was so different each time, but both ended up with laughter through tears. The only down side to the class for me was when I asked what we were looking at through the fourth wall. As soon as it left my mouth, I knew it was a stupid question. Karen was not amused.

DAY 13

Today in Greg's Improvisation class we played a new game in which one person volunteers and sits in a chair in front of the rest of the class to show the life story of their character. The thing is, they have no idea who their character is, and it is up to the rest of the class to jump up and start doing a scene, in no chronological order, from any point of their life, giving the person clues as to who their character is. One person jumps up and starts talking about their life in the retirement home, another person gets up and asks them to prom, another person starts asking them for milk and cookies, and it becomes apparent what the relationships are in a matter of seconds: Grandma, girlfriend, mommy. The only time it didn't go well was when someone would jump up and start a scene without giving the person enough information about who they were or what the situation was.

In Hal's class we began to move on from imaginary centers toward the imaginary life of a character. This work is all about the imagination, and how you would imagine your character, when you see them in your mind's eye, walking, sitting, or gesturing. The physical posture of the actor/character affects us so much, even subconsciously. Hal had us say the simple line "What's the matter with me?" not with any particular character in mind, but in five different sitting positions. It was amazing how different the line delivery was in each position, without any motivation or circumstances dictating it. The difference between saying it with the head lowered versus arms extended up was the most dramatic and most interesting.

I got to work on my new monologue from All's Well That Ends Well in Hisa's Shakespeare class. It's funny how sometimes obvious things can be overlooked when you are working on just a monologue instead of the whole scene or play: I was so focused on what I was saying in the monologue that I completely neglected the relationship to the person I was saying it to- in this case, Bertram's mother. The monologue is more about Helena's relationship to her than it is describing Helena's love for Bertram. Which, now that it's been pointed out to me, is beyond obvious, but I had not even really considered it before. My new challenge, now that I've exchanged my own clipped way of speaking for a more drawn out vocal release for Shakespeare is to keep "fresh minting" each idea when it changes, shifts, or gets bigger. Hisa has such a great way of describing how each character needs this heightened language. My favorite quote from class today: "In this world, all we have is language. And occasionally poison and daggers."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

DAY 12

Today we all left Karen's Rehearsal class completely high on our Three Sisters work. It was like everyone had their own revelatory breakthrough about their character. The literal and figurative coloring of our scripts really worked, and we were all able to find the most surprising range of emotions in seemingly one-note speeches. Even Karen was thrilled about it, and made us all breath a huge sigh of "finally! we did it!" relief.

In Scott's Camera class, we had to reshoot the master shot for Girl, Interrupted because when we were shooting last week, the memory chip reached capacity but the camera kept rolling, so we had no idea that what we were doing was not being saved. We re-shot our scene and finished up the last of the master shots for the other scenes. Ultimately (apparently) very little of these shots will be seen in the final product except to set up the first image as location and character spacial relations- everything else will be varied close-ups jumping back and forth.

Shakespeare with Hisa was helpful, as it always is. Even when you are not necessarily the person working a monologue or scene, it's often times easier to see what she's talking about when watching someone else go through it. When it's you up there, it can be harder to hear what she's diagnosing in your own voice. We only have time to get through about half the class, so I did not go today, but just listening to others work to achieve the "have the thought-need the words" reaction was very informative.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

DAY 11- Week Three

This morning we had Improvisation with Greg. We played the "frantically name six of an item before the water bottle gets passed back to you" game, and finally, three weeks later, I got caught with the bottle. Name six of what, you ask? The last few weeks it's been things like movies featuring animals as main characters, musicals with one word titles, names of American first ladies. But the six items I was to name? "Restaurants that serve primarily chicken." For those of you who don't know me, my family owns and operates Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. I am literally a third generation KFC kid. I swear I could not name one other chicken restaurant. In my defense, we never frequented the competition when I was growing up. El Pollo Loco? Didn't go until I was 18. Fortunately, we played another game so I could try to redeem myself. Our new task was to speak for a solid minute about some fictional topic he assigned us as if we were a leading expert at a conference. This was much easier for me and everyone was able to complete the minute with very funny success.

In Karen's rehearsal class we continued with our The Three Sisters rehearsal. Our current assignment is to go through the script with literal colors (pencils, crayons, what have you) to designate each thought with its own emotion. We are also continuing to discuss how to negotiate with directors and other actors via what Karen calls "self-defense acting." This involves backing up all opinions about your character with proof from the text, examples from previous productions, or famous articles or books. There's nothing worse than getting direction or notes from another actor, however, ahem, well-meaning they may be, and part of the negotiation is the tact to sometimes say "That's interesting..." and walk away, and to sometimes defend your choices until you get what you want.

In Hal's Advanced Techniques class, we talked about objectives. While it's a pretty basic idea in acting, it's sometimes easy to bypass for that very reason. The more specific an action verb can be, the easier time you will having picking tactics as to how you will complete that specific action to get what you want or need.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

DAY 10

Where have the last two weeks gone? I feel like I only just got used to which staircase leads where and now we're a third of the way done with the program. This morning we did all kinds of crazy Fitzmaurice breathing, stretching, and voice work in the morning with Greg. Then we continued our Advanced Techniques with Hal combining our movement qualities and imaginary centers.

The real business of the day came after lunch, when we had a combined Audition class with Joanne all afternoon, which was a giant question/answer/lecture session about the ins and outs of getting jobs. So, without further ado, here are Joanne's tips and tricks of the trade, as frantically scribbled down by a non-Equity, non-represented actress.

1. Know what play you're auditioning for and who you are auditioning for- know about every person who will be in the room and what they've done (i.e. don't let the playwright be sitting in the room unacknowledged because you don't know what they look like).

2. Know the theatre and its history.

3. Don't pass up roles/auditions for better roles/auditions that "might" happen.

4. If you have an agent, tell them specifically that you want theatre work. Sometimes they don't pass on theatre audition notices if it's pilot season, etc, unless you've asked.

5. NEVER say you didn't read the whole play (I thought that was a pretty obvious one, but apparently it's a common mistake).

6. EPA stands for Equity Principal Auditions, and you can attend them (if they are not closed) if you are non-Equity.

7. If you are in contact with casting agents, keep them informed about what you are working on.

8. DO NOT be off-book for sides. Always keep them in your hands.

9. It is okay to say, "Can I start again?" if your beginning was miserable and you need to start over.

10. It is okay to send the casting director a thank-you note after the production in which they cast you, but is not necessary after the audition.

11. DO wear the exact same thing you wore to the audition if you are called back.

12. Dress the flavor of the role (Shakespeare: peasant top; Contemporary: T-shirt, jeans or movement clothes).

13. DO NOT wear or do anything to call attention to anything other than your performance.

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen! Now let's all go get hired...

Thursday, June 17, 2010


This morning we had our Audition class with Joanne. The woman is a genius. In a matter of days since initially meeting all of us, she found monologues that fit us each perfectly. She gave me a piece from Reckless by Craig Lucas in which the character confesses she is not, in fact, deaf and mute, but has just been pretending to be so to get the attention of her love interest. Other popular pieces were from Lobby Hero by Kenneth Lonergan, Oleanna by David Mamet, Hitchcock Blonde by Terry Johnson, and Autobahn by Neil LaBute. Everyone was very happy to be handed a monologue that was just right for them, as the process for finding one for yourself can take weeks... or just remain unfound.

In Scott's Camera class we shot the master shots of our scenes. It's really interesting for me to see the technical side of film in little ways, like holding the boom for a scene: I had no idea about any of it. We continued to work on our Girl, Interrupted scene, and I got to use Hal's "mentally disturbed" imaginary center technique. We'll see how well it worked when we see the playback next Tuesday.

Finally we had Karen's rehearsal class and worked through Act II of The Three Sisters. It seems like no matter how much research and prep I do, she still always comes up with questions that make me think, "How the hell did I not think of that before?" It is so fun doing scene work with such talented classmates, especially in a text that we all seem to be fairly unfamiliar with, stumbling through and making discoveries about the text together. Our voice teacher Greg played Vershinin for a while, adding an interesting (and obviously more experienced) layer to our group. Our homework for the weekend is to create a character bio in which we fill in all of the details, reasons, and answers that Chekhov didn't specify.


Another hysterical morning with Greg in Improvisation class. We played our usual games and learned a few new ones as well. As much crap as Greg gives us as we fail miserably during these games, he always gives us the most inspirational talks in the last half of class. He gave us a list of improv rules, including always making eye contact, trusting your partner, always adapting to changes/never denying information from your partner, being truthful, never physically fighting (which I think is kind of funny... he's obviously had problems with this in the past?), and knowing that there are exceptions to every rule.

We then had Advanced Techniques with Hal, who continued to work with us on "imaginary centers." Today we added a technique for playing mentally disturbed, which involves imagining the center far in the distance and giving it a strong magnetic quality. Watching Hal and my classmates focus their eyes this way, they certainly looked deranged, so I think it was a pretty good trick.

Our final class was Shakespeare with Hisa. I got to do my monologue, which was from All's Well That Ends Well. She showed me an even better Helena monologue two scenes after my selection that I will work on for next class. She also gave me the note that while it's great that I can speak Shakespeare in my own natural speech pattern, it would be better if I could draw out and elongate my words to match the heightened language with vocal emotional release, instead of my own quick, clipped pace of speech.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Today we had Karen's Audition class all morning, in which we got our roles for The Three Sisters that we will be rehearsing over the next four weeks. I've been cast as Irina, who is the ingénue of the sisters. I've never really played the ingénue before because I usually play the quirky/funny/outsider character (which is why I initially read for Natasha), so I'm excited to try something new and challenging... mostly because I have the worst time crying on command and this girl cries every other line. We had a discussion about the play based off of the research we had done over the weekend, and Karen tried to break us of the habit of starting any statement with "I think" or "I feel." I had no idea I started phrases that way, so it was a hard one to break. We read through the first act and will continue on to the second next class. Our big challenge is to find multiple and conflicting emotions in each speech, instead of just playing sad, happy, or angry.

Our next class was Camera with Scott. We are doing a scene from Girl, Interrupted and shot a couple practice runs of it. Scott recommended a great website to us, which is www.script-o-rama.com, and in it are hundreds of film and television scripts you can download for free. We had to replace one of our characters as one of our classmates had to drop the program, so the reading was a little awkward. The playback was also the first time I have really seen myself on film close up... wow. Are my cheeks really that big?

Finally we had Shakespeare with Hisa. There wasn't time for everyone to present their monologues but I learned so much just from watching others go. Overall, the challenge for us with this heightened language is connecting the sometimes foreign words to original thought, instead of "acting" and then reciting pretty words. We need to have the thought, need the language, and thus think, act, and speak all at once. Not as easy as it sounds. She also uses a great phrase which is "Fresh mint it!" meaning in a monologue, you have to keep coming up with fresh new thoughts and reasons to keep speaking instead of just waiting for the person to respond or marching off stage all together.

Monday, June 14, 2010

DAY 6- Week 2

I have a distinct feeling that any day with an Improvisation class with Greg is going to be my favorite day. I just laugh so hard the entire time. Again we were with both groups, playing large group games and then discussing how conflict and empathy on stage make for interesting entertainment. We played the "frantically name six of a category while a water bottle is being passed back to you" game again, and still no one was able to get all of them. We also played a game where you have to say a word that begins with whatever was the last letter of the word you were just given while sticking to a certain rhythm. He described improv as being "a playwright on your feet"- you create your own plot and circumstances; the team has to be able to play along with you.

We then had Rehearsal class with Karen, in which we had "callbacks" for The Three Sisters. I read for Natasha, and I am finding that my bad nervous habit is to read too quickly. It is interesting to see a group of really fine actors be called out on their bad nervous habits- we all have a distinct one we are now aware of and are trying to break. Even with my overly-speedy initial read I think it went well. We find out our cast list tomorrow. Not that there isn't any thing at stake here (again, please hire me SCR), but it is funny how seriously we all get about it when you label it "auditions"- even for a play that we will never perform. Also, we got to practice our audition schmoozing tactics: "Is there anything you would like me to know before I begin? ... Thank you, that adjustment was so helpful... Would you like to see it another way? ... Thanks so much, I really appreciate you calling me in to read... It looks like a very exciting project." Consider yourself schmoozed.

We then had Advanced Techniques with Hal, who gave us the idea of the "imaginary center," or the place where a character holds their "emotional and mental headquarters." From this center, which can be anywhere in, on, or around the body, a character trait can be built: Superman might have his in the center of his chest, leading the way with his perfect posture. This imaginary gravitational pull can also be used for more specific purposes, like drunkenness, in which case the center may be moving back and forth in front of you as you struggle to keep focus on it. Obviously, we all ended class having to come down from our fake buzz.


Ah, Friday. We definitely had an "ahhh" kind of morning in our first voice class with Dr. Greg Ungar today. After a quick game of communist tag (that's right) we got to lay on the floor, focusing on breathing and stretching to relieve all tension. Our group got super lucky to relax first thing in the morning before rushing off to all of our other (more stress-inducing) classes. Greg teaches the Fitzmaurice approach to opening the voice, which I have had the pleasure of studying with Ben Mathes at USD. It was a great way to start off our last day of week one.

Next we had Audition class with Joanne, who gave us feedback on our monologue selection. For most of us, it was a simple "No!" or "No way!" or "Get rid of it." I loved her honesty. She told me the Equivocation piece was interesting but not long enough. She then had us stand up so she could appraise us physically, and gave us each the age range we should be auditioning for. She gave me mid-twenties, possibly younger with my hair in a pony tail.

We ended the day with a longer Advanced Techniques class with Hal with both groups combined, all twenty-seven of us adopting different qualities as instructed. Our improv exercise was to go up in pairs and do a mock job interview, with both the interview-er and -ee picking different qualities and creating scenarios on the spot.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


This morning we had our first Audition class with Joanne Denaut, casting director at South Coast Rep. She literally makes the casting decisions for every show at this theatre, so I was pretty nervous going in, obviously wanting to make a good impression. I'm so excited for this class, especially because I will be making the rounds of MFA auditions this academic year and need to be prepared for such potentially life-altering audition decisions. Just thinking about what monologue I should pick for my UCI audition makes me sweat, so it will be great have such an expert opinion about what to choose. She asked us all what we would do with our lives if acting was suddenly no longer an option, making the point that our other interests support our acting, and our acting supports our other interests. We all performed our monologues for her (my current one is from Equivocation by Bill Cain) and I am interested to see what she has to say about them tomorrow.

In our camera class, Scott gave us some scenes to try reading aloud to see if we are interested in working on them to eventually do on camera. We all read about two and all ended up picking the ones he originally suggested, of course. A few other women and I will be working on a scene from Girl, Interrupted which I have never seen but plan on reading over the weekend. Everyone was somewhat cast to type, and I got crazy girl. Of course!

In Karen's Rehearsal class, we did cold read auditions for Chekhov's The Three Sisters, which, naturally, of his most famous plays, is the one I'm completely unfamiliar with. We will be working on this play over the next four weeks, working through an entire rehearsal process without ever actually performing it. I read for Olga, at first way too quickly, and Karen had to slow me down. I later read again for Irina, and after doing one of her speeches, Karen told me that I read too naturalistically/modern/one-note-y. I completely agree that I need to work on that, and, as she puts it, "add more colors" to my vocal range onstage. We have callbacks on Monday, and will be coming back having read and researched the play with a character picked out and ready to show off.


This morning we had our first Improvisation class with Greg Atkins. I. laughed. so. hard. Coincidentally, it's not even a comedy improv class, but rather general improvisation skills for the actor. He taught us a few improv games, which we completely failed at, which gave him a ton of material with which to mock us. My favorite: We had to stand in a circle passing around a bottle of water, and whenever he said stop, the person caught holding the bottle had to name eight of a certain item (vegetables that aren't green; candy bars that don't have nuts) before the bottle made it around the circle back to them. Of course, under pressure, it becomes infinitely more difficult to categorize common information. The whole point was that if this kind of pressure can stump you, what happens when "hundred dollar bills are being burned" on a film set and you need to step up and say your one line? After the game he gave us a great talk about relationships, professional and personal, and how those connections are all that matters in this business.

In our Shakespeare class, Hisa gave us more information about verse, prose, and syllables than I could wrap my mind around in an hour and a half. This is probably common knowledge, but my favorite tidbit is that (generally speaking) higher status people speak in verse, and lower class people speak in prose. She gave us a bunch of great handouts, and I'll type out a guideline for operative words at the bottom of this post.

Hal's Advanced Techniques class was a continuation of the "qualities" that we worked on last time and a few new ones- staccato and legato. He has a great phrase for using these qualities physically in a character: He "infuses" the quality to maintain the physical feeling while focusing on the dialogue or task at hand.

So, here we are midweek of week one. I leave you with this list, courtesy of Hisa Takakuwa and A Noise Within Theatre (of which she is a founding artistic member):


1. Stress not the negative. "No" and "not" are almost never operative. The operative word is, instead, the word that is being negated. Example: "Go not till you here from me." "I love thee not; therefore pursue me not."

2. Verbs of being are never operative. The operative words are the words that explain the kind or quality of being. Example: "I am happy." "He is my brother."

3. Avoid stressing pronouns whenever it is possible to do so ("he", "she", "it", etc). Whenever there is any alternative that makes sense, use it. This includes possessive pronouns ("his", "her", etc).

4. Possessive nouns are never less important than the word they posses Example: "My father's house."

5. Articles ("a", "an", "the"), prepositions ("to", "from", "on", etc) and conjunctions ("and", "but", "or", etc) are never operative. They contain no images, but serve to show the relationships between the images. Find the word with the images.

6. Adjectives and adverbs are treated as part of the noun or verb they modify. The key operative word is the noun or verb, with the adjective or adverb incorporated in the image as a modifier.

7. An image that is repeated is not operative. What is operative is any new quality that is added in the repetition. This is called repetitive contrast. Stress the new information.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Yesterday program director Karen Hensel gave us a two-page scene with no real content to memorize to perform in class today with our assigned partner. The dialogue was not particularly enlightening, but she gave us each a circumstance ("It's a horror film... It's a romantic comedy... You were roommates and it ended badly") and we had to make it work. We all performed our scenes and they were all vastly different, and then bam: She gave us about five minutes to come up with a new scenario and perform them again. Like yesterday, her whole point was that the actor has the power over the words (not the other way around) and we need to be able to control them in any possible way in case a director or casting person asks us to make a change in a split second.

Our next class was film, which thoroughly frightened me because I have no experience in it. Not only am I inexperienced, I am baffled: Just weep/fall in love/laugh/scream/whatever immediately after they slap that clapboard in your face? No warm-up? No scene partner? Nothing? It sounds awful. Fortunately, our instructor, Scott Reiniger, seems like a very patient guy.

Our final class of the day was Shakespeare, taught by Hisa Takakuwa. I also have no experience being in Shakespeare productions, but I am very familiar (Thanks, English 280) and have seen some great productions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, in London, and in New York, so I feel much more comfortable in this arena despite my inexperience. Hisa told us that there are two rules to doing Shakespeare well: 1. Being specific and 2. Being present. Without those two things, it becomes boring, and even if it's well-spoken, it's not "lived" and puts us all to sleep.

Day 2 left me a little overwhelmed by my own lack of experience, but excited to hopefully speed up the learning curve over the course of this summer.


In February, I auditioned for South Coast Repertory's Professional Acting Intensive and, a week later, I got a letter in the mail saying that I was accepted. I promptly freaked out.

So I am very excited to be spending the next two months at the theatre every day, and because I convinced USD to give me some units for this endeavor, I will be blogging every day as my journal to later go back and write a massive paper about the experience. But, in the mean time, I will be sharing my daily experiences and my favorite tips and tidbits from the fabulous instructors that I am learning from every day.

My first morning, I was incredibly nervous, which is not a feeling I experience often, but the potential for my career after doing this program (hire me SCR! give me my Equity card!) is really intimidating. There are about 26 other actors this summer, with varying degrees of experience, training, and age. We took a tour of the theatre (I get a key!) and it's like starting school all over again: The building is a huge labyrinth of staircases, classrooms, offices, and of course the main stages, and I have no idea where any of my classrooms are. At one point I stepped away from the group to go to the bathroom in between classes and got thoroughly lost.

Our first class, with program director Karen Hensel, was a blast. We all came to class prepared with a monologue, and she put us on stage in pairs, gave us some given circumstances ("You're picking up a girl at a bar", "You're at your uncle's funeral"), and instructed us to do the scene using the text from our monologue. The result was sometimes hilarious and sometimes worked out weirdly well. Her entire point was that as an actor, "You control the words. The words do not control you." You need to be able to change the delivery of the words to fit what you're trying to communicate, because, especially in an audition situation, you need to be able to change at the drop of a hat if the casting people have something else in mind. She also made us solemnly swear to never leave an audition without asking the casting director: "Would you like to see it another way? Is there something you'd like to see that I didn't give you?"

Our next class of the day was with Hal Landon (he plays Scrooge every year in a Christmas Carol) and is called "Advanced Techniques." It is essentially a Michael Chekhov class, which is great because I recently took a class with Liz Shipman at USD that is very similar, so I've already gotten over the awkwardness of "move like you're surrounded by clay" or "radiate light toward this wall." (What?) This type of work was really strange for me before I took Liz's class, so I'm glad I'm a little bit more prepared for this one.

I left exhausted and excited for the next day. More to come!