Catching Up On Class

I am a bit behind on sharing my class breakthroughs, so this post will cover 4 of them.

This month, Mondays were my official class day, but I also had a lot of days at Mcgill, filming things on weekends, self tapes…my brain was basically full of back stories and conversations that were not my own. Which I loved, but it also led to me trying to learn my lines for Nocturnal Animals between scenarios on Monday afternoon, and while driving across town to class (trying to repeat them to myself while driving, then waiting for a red light to glance down and see the script if I needed it, no scary driving I promise).

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Once there, I ran lines with Nir, my scene partner, mostly making sure we both knew our lines. I wasn’t even thinking about my goal or anything and the first time we put it up for Suzanna, it wasn’t any better on my part. I played her sweet and forgot to be defensive, forgot to care, even forgot the end of one of my lines. When Suzanna started to give notes, asking questions about our motivations, I had to admit that I knew the back story. I saw the movie, so I knew why it was a low blow to bring up my creative career that I chose not to pursue, how comparing me to my mother was not a good thing…I knew exactly what should be affecting me, I just wasn’t doing it.

As we continued to go through the scene, I got progressively meaner, but not just for the sake of being mean, it was because I was letting the circumstances and his words affect me. I found it so hard saying such mean things to Nir when he looked so crushed by them, but my being hurt and defensive helped him be more affected, which in turn got me more affected and I feel like we really connected. When Suzanna asked, we both wanted to do one last take to go deeper and by the end of it, I started tearing up and I’m pretty sure he did too.

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Last week, we came back and did it audition style. I had a wonderful reader, so we worked on the different levels, trying to find the balance between trying to be sweet and helpful, to being hurt, to hating him, to loving him (which was something I was told I needed to remember, because the reason why we can hurt each other so much is because we love each other that much). I really need to work on my “Okay”s, which is something I say way too much in scenes, both when I get really emotional, and when I am searching for a line. I know I say that most scenes were so much fun to do, which is absolutely true, because any time I can act is amazing, but this scene was really invigorating to play. And to watch when Nir did his audition without me. One of my goals this year is related to crying, and while this scene did not call for tears, just taking it all in brought me there. Not to the kind of crying that keeps eluding me, but I never set out to cry in the scene, it just happened. Which I think is excellent progress for someone who was blocked and guarded and couldn’t.

On a side note, not smiling apparently ages me, so my range goes older as long as it isn’t a happy character.

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For the commercial or actor role audition, I got a commercial, where I was seduced by condiments. Or, you know, by a guy talking about condiments. Which sounds weird, but it was so much fun, and hilarious. The hardest part was staying in it while everyone else was laughing.

On Tuesday, I was expecting to head home after work, but I got a call from Suzanna in the afternoon saying someone couldn’t make it, so the spot was mine if I wanted it. Of course I did, so once I was done being a horrible person in a very long scenario, I drove to class. I was the only one there, so I caught up a bit with Suzanna before finally reading my scene for the first time and trying to learn my lines. I was pretty familiar with them by the time my new scene partner wrote to Suzanna to say he couldn’t make it. At that point, she could have told me I learnt the lines and came to class for nothing, but instead she said I could do it audition style this week and with my scene partner next week. I had a few more minutes of working on the lines while another pair rehearsed, before I manned the camera for their scene.

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Finally, I did the scene like an audition, then a second time with the note of waiting more for a certain line, and playing more off the reader, which is something I seem to be bad at. Or at least not as good as when it is a scene partner, or when I am the reader. Another thing to work on!

When we did it as a scene the following week, I understood that I had also been playing it one note, basing my motivations off of what she says, rather than what I know from watching the movie. The scene is from When Harry Met Sally, and I had played her like she was annoyed and didn’t want to talk to him. Luckily, as soon as I was running lines with Nick, who was friendly and goofy, I couldn’t exactly keep being annoyed by him.

I got better at taking him in and playing off him, but I also had to decide how I felt about things, rather than sticking to the lines and taking them for truth. It is always easier and harder for me when I know the movie/show and the characters, because I have the original performance I have to forget, and I often don’t think I need to do as much work because I know it so well, when really, I still need to discover my motivations and make it all truthful for myself.

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Since her scene partner couldn’t make it, I also got to be Lorelai in the Gilmore Girls scene. Normally she would have just done it audition style, but she wanted to work on the crying at the end, so we got into it. I didn’t have a script to go over, but I remembered it pretty well from last time we did it. I did, however, have to forget how Lauren Graham played it, and try to internalize the disappointment and worry rather than just saying the lines, even if I hadn’t expected to be doing the scene. Me finding the truth in the imaginary circumstances and being upset with her helps her ultimately get to where she needs to go at the end of the scene. Not sure we got there, but we definitely raised the stakes and made it more of an argument than a line reading.

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At the end of class, my audition was for a commercial with Bobby. It was a very light-hearted albeit unrealistic premise that was easy and fun to shoot. It’s probably because these are more characters than presenters, but I am getting more confident in these commercial auditions and can’t wait to test this confidence outside of the classroom

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”

-Nora Ephron


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