One thing you can almost always count on in Suzanna’s classes is that if you are less people than expected, you will be finishing late. The class is 2 hours, but once we are less than 6 people, we convince ourselves we have the time to talk and catch up between takes, or to try more things and then we run late. Which is kind of like a double bonus when you think about it.

The first Tuesday of this month, we were only 3, so I got to play Lily Tomlin in a scene from Grace and Frankie. Not something I would get cast for otherwise, but it was a lot of fun to step in for his partner who couldn’t make it. The writing was incredibly smart, maybe a little too smart, and really makes me want to start watching the show. From an actor’s point of view, I love the mix of love and hurt and familiarity and so many things in their relationship that as a person must break her heart.

My actual scene was from Go On, which I had seen the night before in the Monday class, so I tried really hard not to imitate their performance, which had been really funny with a lot of heart.

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The second week, when we were supposed to put our scenes on camera, there was a huge snow storm in Montreal. I was kind of oblivious to the severity of it all, even while out and about with work and meetings, so I was surprised when I checked my messages and found people wondering if I would show up to class. Of course I was going to be there!

Turns out the rest of the class wasn’t coming, except for my scene partner who came because I was coming, and a newer student who Suzanna hadn’t been able to reach either way. If you’re counting, that makes another week with 3 people, where I caught up with Suzanna, did 2 scenes and we finished past the 2 hour mark.

The first scene was the Go On one we had done the week before. I did my first take with the therapist being really sweet, quiet and really wanting to help him. Which is sort of my go to in life and for characters. So Suzanna decided to spice things up for me and made me try being not exactly meaner, but more confident and less affected by his tactics. The first time I tried this, I clearly decided mean meant being busy with something other than listening to him, which was possibly more distracting that anything, because I didn’t stick to it. As the takes went on, I bobbed my head with attitude, added a lot of ‘okay’s, followed my instincts to get up and leave, and found exasperation with him. In the end, I felt like I was being really mean to him, especially considering his situation of having lost his wife, but watching the takes over, I was nowhere near even remotely mean. So this is obviously something that I really need to work on.

Since the other scene was one between Lorelai and Rory that I had already done (although I had been Rory at the time), I got to be Elysia’s Lorelai. We went out back to run it a few times before putting it on camera, at which point we were both off book. Which I love that I can do, but other than knowing the backstory and having watched the scene on tv, I really didn’t do any work to understand goals, motivations or any of those things I should know. So the scene could have been so much better on my end rather than just being okay. The improv was especially fun since I was incredibly well-versed in the backstory, and the scene was really nice to play from a different angle.

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I believe it was quite the adventure for all of us to make it home after class, which I only managed the following night after having to crash at my brother’s due to the weather. The roads were crazy and I had to dig my car out of a snowbank with the scraper end of my snow brush, but still, I did not for a second regret going to class. It’s that good.

 

“It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it.”

-Amelia Barr

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