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!