"Be honest, Adrianna." Anthony Atamanuik feeding children annoying Halloween treats.
"I thwew up."
"You threw up?"
Anthony told us a story about shooting this in our class. He is funny in it.
These are my notes from my Austin Pendleton class at HB. He’s a very good actor/director/teacher so check him out.
I did my first first read in class today, it lasted all of two minutes and I got a lot of compliments which was unexpected and great.
Missing from the notes this week, crucially, are some great things Austin said while I didn’t have my iPad by me about never judging yourself or making self-evaluations, because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t help you and can only do you harm. Great stuff and I wish I had gotten it down.
Here’s the notes. No notes next week as I’ll be out of town.
Oh and let me know if you dig me or if anyone ever wants to come audit.
The space between when you observe someone and then say your line is where acting happens.
I often think that people get into acting in order to not take people in, which is the whole thing, or to take people in in a safe environment, which is wrong because no plays are written about people in safe environments.
Always keep your finger on the page for the first read so you don’t have to go looking for the line.
The first read is to open up things to move in, so that when you play it in its given rhythm your instrument is attuned to that stuff.
First read is a misnomer when you are actually first reading, just read it to each other.
Because once you name what’s going on between people, it can’t move in on you as easily, which is what you want.
If you’re blocked in the work, let things move in on you, it’s called engagement, it’s active not passive.
A lot of what some actors call being active is simply closing all the doors, which is an action, just a closing one.
If you know how to act, why do you go to class, well it’s sort of a gym, but it’s keeping alive the part of the process that is being in front of people, which is very important.
Otherwise without an audience there are less stakes. When there’s an audience in front of you, you do take them in.
You don’t play to them, but to not take them in is a pathology, they’re there.
There’s a complexity to rehearsing a thing for class because there’s no one else there, which is so different from a show where there’s someone there, a stage manager, another actor.
Some actors don’t want people to watch their rehearsals, they’re paranoid, but it’s a totally different experience doing a scene in the room with the noises of other people, their presence.
How does the work translate from the classroom to a production because some actors don’t make it.
But the classroom is controlled, safer, whereas a production anything can happen.
Everybody’s different and that in itself is a thing we bring to class.
Some actors can’t be totally private unless it’s public, some actors are brilliant in rehearsal b can’t bring it to a presentation.
It happens sometime that you bring in a scene where you have trouble working with another actor, which happens to all of us.
We all have acting problems that are uncorrectable.
If you have a problem, incorporate into the work and don’t see it as a setback, see it as a way into the scene.
Don’t in general say to the other actor what you’re going through in the process of rehearsal. That will make them self-conscious. Don’t impose your trip on them, bring it to the table in the work.
You can discuss the characters relationship or history if you want, but otherwise say nothing about the scene to the other actor in rehearsal.
After each rehearsal of the layer, don’t talk about it. It’ll go straight to your head. Try to leave discussion of the work itself out of it. I can always tell I’m in trouble with a part if I’m talking about in rehearsal.
Try not to say anything that could remotely mean I want you to change something you’re doing.
Acting is basically like dealing with what you’ve got in front of you.
If it’s a class you’re not going to fire your scene partner because you do not like their work.
To feel you can do that is to set a dangerous precedent for yourself, because you can’t do that in a show, almost no one has that power.
Whenever they succeed, the show invariably suffers, and if you press it and don’t have the power, they will fire you.
It’s a terrible habit to get into to say I can’t work with this person.
If you learn one thing from a scene class, it’s that you can work with anyone.
Acting is dealing with what’s in front of you, that’s the most fundamental sentence about acting,
You have to listen to this person saying these things and deal with them by talking.
You will learn more from not laying your deal on your partner than by doing it.
You are putting an unreal aspect into the situation by trying to control it.
If you have an issue, let it into your work and don’t let them know.
Train yourself not to go back to the book so fast.
If you bring in a scene know he lines, because it’s hard for me to evaluate the process,
If you’re unhappy with it after you know your lines, that’s a great place to bring it in.
If you let the valuation of your teachers, letting you into advanced classes or not, determine your self-worth, then you will not survive in the profession of acting.
This is nothing compared to a typical day in the business.
You’re asking to be judged when you get paid to act and they will judge you harshly.
Once we establish the inner objects of a difficult moment, the bad bad feelings, we don’t go into them on stage immediately because in truthfully in life those are feelings we try to avoid, but in the work, the rehearsal, we have to go through those bad feelings all the time. If you don’t allow it, it hooks itself inside you.
That’s true about any acting: that it’s more about the other person than it is about you.
Part one of the process is feeling everything, part two of the process is burying it. You have to go into the process. But you can’t skip that part one.
Hey all, these were the notes from thus week.
-Austin teaches at HB.
-May be useful for actors or improviser/comedians!
Lemme know wachu think!
When you’re confused about what a line means in a play, say the line and figure it out, the same thing with specific physicalities or stage directions.
SLA is a sort of theater that people act out upon each other.
What they’re addicted to is the whole roller coaster ride of meeting and falling in love in a very hot way.
SLA people have problems when it cools down, like it does in any relationship,
SLA functions the same way as cocaine, they feel great for half an hour, an hour.
They create circumstances that are variations on a relationship to feel all the rush in a small amount of time.
The whole first half of the play so cycling through their own experience of cycling through their greatest hits of falling in love.
These are rituals as exacting as a Masonic group.
You’re getting angry because it’s time for that ritual, you need that hit.
What happens with any other addiction is that any other form of human interaction becomes depressing,
Austin Pendleton- how to do a first read
Don’t do it the first time you read through the play
More specifically, you should never do anything on a stage that is not produced in the moment by what the other person doing.
Even if it is similar night to night, it’s not because it’s the same but it’s because whatever is hitting you in that same way,
Don’t go back to the book so quickly.
Acting happens after the words have left your mouth. You send a verbal action as opposed to “my lines”.
Talking about lines is one step to “line readings” which is the road to hell, putting you in your head.
And then once you send the verbal action, the situation is out of your hands. You’re at the mercy of your scene partner.
If you keep going back to the book instantly, you miss the moment, it’s gone.
The other person’s verbal action during a monologue are non-verbal.
Ultimately it has to go fast because otherwise it’s slow, so you’re reacting to the other person just faster.
Simply: Inhale their lines and exhale yours. What your inhaling is not just their lines but yours too, their physicality, tone, etc.
For monologues, Some people imagine a person, I talk to an object.
89 percent of the time, the things we call monologues are not true monologues, they’re said to another person.
If you only focus on the content, you’re missing the other person, which is 80 percent of what they have,
People bring in monologues taking about their dead dog and weep and make the dog important, but why are they saying it to the other person, who are they talking to, why now.
If it’s a true monologue without another character implied, you’re talking to god, or another person you’re imagining you’re having an argument with, or the audience.
Uta used to feel that if you’re in the middle of a routine physical activity, the words tend to come out of you more.
It used to be that you see people walking down the street talking to themselves.
In “what have you done”, he insists Austin walked around Central Park after auditioning for Brian de Palma having a violent argument talking to himself angry at Brian de Palma.
Because you’re engaged in the physical activity, the words are released from you without force.
The activity can often not be what we’re talking about.
A non true monologue, you’re telling it to someone to try to get them to do something you want them to do.
I pick a spot or an object on the wall and you can see that the object or spot won’t move or change which can build you up.
Just take what’s there and try to change it, the phone or spot.
When you talk and do a monologue in Shakespeare, you can talk to the audience, which is what Shakespeare probably intended.
To be or not to be, talking to strangers because I need help figuring it out from you, I can’t get any help from all the crazy fraught people in this play.
Wait for a response and then absorb the fact that she’s not going to say anything,
In life when someone lets us keep talking they’re allowing us to expose ourselves, letting us go out on a limb of hang ourselves with our own words.
It’s a beat by beat realization, you don’t know you’ll get to talk this long, but you don’t know what it means until you find out.
Anger is one of those things, when we feel good in an angry scene we feel release, so often if we feel good in an angry scene we aren’t doing good work.
Anger is like vomiting, it’s a release but it’s a bad release, something you have to get over to get better,
You shouted that person and then you don’t take in what you feel what you feel, the consequences of what you feel after shouting out them. Plays are not about release they’re about tension.
Addiction is an expression of great anger, I hate my life, my lack of control.
Anger is hot but it’s also anger.
We don’t always know what we say is actually true, your favorite movie, your relationship with your mother. I don’t know if what I say is true, they come up in response to what’s going through me in the moment. I’m not lying, I’m just going through my feelings.
Attach that uncertainty to everything you say,
There’s a thing about acting, you don’t figure out but you’re opening yourself up so you can find things that you can ride.
A certain event happens in our lives, it has meaning to us, we don’t assign it meaning, if you’re frightened enough in your life, stories happen that crowd out the real stories.
There’s no idea about the facts of the play, we only know why people are saying things to each other, charging moments in our life with meaning.
It’s possible you don’t know what’s true only what you need to say instinctually in the moment to make a point.
People lie in the theater like other people have hot dinners.
How do you particularize it if it’s not true- we do it in life all the time, it’s even easier, they’re used to make a point.
The event in this play that’s important is saying what you’re saying and seeing how the other person reacts to what you’re saying.
Who cares what the literal content is, what response does it evoke in other people.
An audience in a play is exactly like a kid at bedtime that they want to be told a story, something they can lend their belief to.
The feeling of wanting to know what’s going to happen next and hearing what’s going to happen next is deeply comforting to an audience.
The pressure of the past on the present is the subject of almost any play ever written.
If you can say that sentence I can say anything I want, it makes you feel very free indeed in a play.
The more yourself you are in the circumstances, the more you bring into it, the more you are the character.
People pole vault over the other actor on stage, but if you look at her, the other actor on stage, you’re forced to deal with your current situation in the play.
People often ignore in their characterization the relationships they have with the other characters in the scene.
For an antidote to that self consciousness, if it’s all about the other person, it relieves us of that,
The process of characterization does not exist without the relationships, that’s the highway to characterization, all of their relationships, past and present are how our behavior is shaped.
Objectives exist in a realm of overwhelming feelings that make those objectives important.
But once you’ve experienced those overwhelming feelings you need to rise above them so you can express what you need to.
Now you can listen to last week’s show, featuring Shannon O’Neill and Connor Ratliff, plus a guest appearance by Nicholas Feitel.
Or come to the UCBeast tonight at 6:00pm to see Beth Appel, Birch Harms, and Terry Withers talk about architecture.
I did a very silly small bit in this extremely talent heavy show. Check it out.
Here are my notes! I’m taking class at HB Studio with Austin Pendleton and acting is scary to me! My monologue went really well today though. He called me “brilliant and awkward”.
Take these notes for what they are and let me know if you dig em!
The name of the game is needing each other
The fundamental question is why is the scene the length that it is and it can only be answered sensorally.
One way when you have a sustained antagonistic scene, is you have to find the binding element of the scene, what keeps them in the room together.
We often get into trouble with scenes that we expect that it’s a given that they happen.
Most conflict scenes in life would just be over instantly: I’m in love with your wife, get out, scene.
It happens for the length that it does because of that binding element.
A playwright introduces a wild card into the show, would this scene play any differently without the factor
Any scene study class is also a text analysis class. Where else are you going to find the sensoral elements of the scenes.
Hostility is often flirtation in intimate scenes and that intimacy can become addictive.
Your sensory instincts are usually right, even if you feel out of it, you were meant to be out of it.
Even in our most connected moments we might pull out of it for a second, a self-cooling mechanism
How many scenes could you actually think of as job interview scenes, even if they don’t present themselves that way?
Some actors approach scenes analytically, other actors it’s besides the point but either way it’s beside the point.
An instinctive actor would get in trouble if they don’t stay open to the other actor.
As long as they stay open they’re going to be in the life of the play.
Actors for whom the power play is more important than the work are inherently bad actors, even if they’re talented.
If you feel you don’t have the analytical gift of the actor, don’t worry about it, plenty of people don’t and you don’t need it.
An actor who has no problems is not a very good actor, their problem is they have no problems.
It doesn’t matter where you start from just as long as you end up in harm’s way with each other.
If you are having trouble with the lines, your instrument is telling you something and you should listen to it because there’s a reason the character is feeling the same thing.
The greater the play, the bigger the traps in the play.
Don’t try to solve the anxiety, ride that anxiety.
When a horse is bucking under you, it’s not an option to shoot the horse, ride the horse and see where it takes you.
Unless you have an actual problem with lines, all of it is information, it’s not problem.
We make into an issue that 90 percent of the time it isn’t. The world doesn’t come to an end when you can’t remember a line.
No role has any set parameters. Some roles seem to have set parameters, but no human beings have set parameters,
Any really good role there are no parameters, there’s a thing you’re supposed to do, but that doesn’t determine what’s going on inside you.
Don’t think about it, just take in fully this experience of playing a person of says to themselves that they don’t have those parameters.
Make one choice, not eight. Just play one thing.
An inner object is important but it doesn’t exist until it’s brought into behavior by you and your partner without knowing where it’s going to lead you.
Just take the other person in, without the need for product.
This is an experiment.
I am fortunate enough to be an “advanced” student at HB Studio, an acting school founded by Herbert Berghof and Uta Hagen, and I’m currently taking a couple of classes, one of them with a well-noted teacher, Austin Pendleton.
A lot of people ask me what acting classes at HB are like. This one is two hours, 5-6 scenes and notes from the teacher. Actors come with props and costumes. The caliber is clearly very high, with scenes I as a first-timer thought great called a “catastrophe”.
I think a lot of his notes are very good and may be applicable to improvisation or at least may give a good context for his philosophy as a teacher.
As always, I’d encourage anyone interested in taking an acting class to come down and audit which I think is around 20 dollars.
But this might be a good taste. Let me know if it’s interesting.
People always like control
Just because it’s your behavior, doesn’t mean it’s not her (the characters behavior)
Your behavior is yours but it’s lots of other people’s too.
The question to ask is not is this something I do, but is this something the character would not do and then if so figure out why I do not do it. And maybe the reason you do it is because the character wants to do it.
Sometimes when you have a feeling that you’re doing some physicality out of character that feels wrong, it means the character wants to do it, so do it fully and then figure out why before editing it out.
If you’re fidgeting, she’s fidgeting. Try to avoid I/her, I/him. You are your character. If you’re fidgeting, you’re fidgeting, it’s a fact and figure out why.
Maybe your instrument (your body, your mind) is telling you something about Karen by fidgeting,
Just look at your tics, explore them. You can take it many places as opposed to saying “he (the character) wouldn’t do that”.
When you don’t want to do a scene as a character think about why the character doesn’t want to be in the scene.
Go from negative objectives to positive objectives. From, let me show you how much you hurt me to I want my husband back.
Having tried everything, you get to a place of “this will have to do” and you finally find yourself in a place where you have to talk and to listen, sometimes just make that your objective.
As you build a substitution, start with imagining the circumstances as they are in the play before you start it.
Build up their inner monologue, justification for their argument in case anyone challenges what they do.
Try to find the things to seize upon in your own arguments as a character that are valid, even if it’s in a context that’s not valid.
You need to know what the play is about, what’s your response to the play: it’s not important that it’s the right one, just that it is one.
The affect of the play is something for the audience to conclude not for you to conclude as an actor.
You can’t play the play, you must play the circumstances.
The rat in the maze is struggling, doesn’t know how to escape. We see the rat in the maze, but he can’t know he’s being watched or in the maze.
If the characters in the play have long since given up, that gives you nothing play.
Our engagement in pursuing our objective is our place to put our nerves to work in a play.
You’re all capable to pursuing positive objectives, I.e.: I’ve got to maintain this friendship or else I’ll fall apart before this wedding.
You have to take these characters at their own word, their words are as important to them as they say they are.
Detachment is a virus that comes from presenting the perspective of the play versus the life of the play.
The actor doesn’t place the thing, his performance, in the context, the play places the actor in the context and the audience sees it.
7 DAYS OF VACATION JASON: A COUNTDOWN TO COCONUT BERRY LEMON TREE LIVE AT DEATH BY AUDIO
Hello. I’m performing Coconut Berry Lemon Tree live on Thursday, September 26th at The Chris Gethard Show Presents. You can find out more info about the show HERE!
DAY 4: VACATION JASON ON TCGS.
It definitely felt like the end of an era when TCGS left UCB for MNN. The show had a huge impact on me, and I can say that’s true even before being invited on the road trip. Back when it was still kind of a secret that TCGS was moving to public access, Gethard told me the show was moving onto bigger and better things and kind of left it at that. I knew some people were pitching ideas, but I didn’t really know who was doing that, or if I was somebody who was allowed to do so. Plus, I was out of ideas. A few weeks after the show started, I was talking about pitching with Noah Forman. The one idea I had was a cooking show segment. An anti-comedy bit where I make a dish with a totally straight face. Noah was told me that was literally the most pitched idea they’ve had from everybody so far. So I backed off. I had a good time returning to my original role as a big fan and supporter of the show.
But, you know. I started thinking it might be funny to bug everybody again, like on the road trip. So I called in a handful of times as VJ. I think it went over well precisely once. In my mind, there was that built-in antagonistic history between VJ and the cast that would be fun to play with. I could be a goofy villain again! But over the phone, Gethard would have to take the time to explain to the audience (in studio and online) the whole spiel about how I was this guy named Riley who had this dumb character that I did, and it was this thing on this road trip that none of you really saw, and it sort of became a thing, and then that thing was a thing, and there were just too many things to explain when you’re trying to keep the show moving. This time, it really just didn’t fit in with what the show was trying to do.
And then, Gethard announced an upcoming episode called “Ruin This Show.” Come on, really?! I had to. In the middle of my bit, Gethard said that he liked that I knew that this was the only way I’d get my bit on the show. Well, yeah.
So now, for the second time, I had wormed my way onto TCGS and just kind of stuck around. I smeared sunscreen on Gethard’s face for the blindfold episode, which was pretty funny, but I felt like I had a good thing going when I did my Seashell Cruise bit for the How Do Girls Work? episode, which would eventually become the video bit in my stage show. I’m also thankful for that pretty epic sign off at the end of that bit. Glad I paid attention in my high school anatomy class
I could go on forever about how much it means to me that I get to do TCGS in its current form. Whether or not I do an episode, I’m an avid fan and I never miss an episode. I’ll never forget that I’m incredibly lucky when it comes to how often I get to fuck around on the show. It’s insane that I can show up and do a weird bit and feel totally comfortable about it because there’s, what, forty or fifty people in the studio? It feels like a great, supportive and small crowd like a show at UCB or some other cool venue in the city. And then all of a sudden there’s people like Ksek and Gargledmesh drawing my face. It’s never lost on me, how crazy that actually is. People watch!
Okay, let’s get weird for a second. In February, I just starting to pull myself out of a pretty gloomy time in my life. I was sad and depressed for about six months. I don’t know how much the TCGS writers knew about that at the time, but one day in February Gethard called me on the phone and said they had booked an awesome surf rock band as the musical guest, and wanted to frame the whole episode around them and a beach party theme. Then came the ideas about Vacation Jason having amnesia, and using a surf rock band to bring VJ back to his old ways. Instantly I had this big deal episode to be excited about. I was determined to make it good.
This whole episode meant so much to me on several levels. The fact that I was the front and center focus for the whole thing. That they trusted me to be funny and good enough to float a bit on camera for the whole show. That the people who called in played along with the bit so well. That Fred from Honolulu mailed in those amazing flower leis?? That every single person in the audience came to the show decked out in beach party clothes. It just all meant so much at a time when I really needed an emotional boost to shake me out of what I was going through. And on top of all of that, I feel like I did a good job, too. I think it’s pretty a good episode!
I could go on for the rest of the day with this post. I think I covered the biggest parts. I might revisit this, I don’t know. Everybody knows I’ve written enough about VJ & TCGS as is. The big idea is: Thanks TCGS cast, crew, and fans! Thank you very very very much. It’s the most fun.
TOMORROW: VACATION JASON MAKES THE UCB THEATRE HIS BEACH HOUSE.
My friend Riley Soloner is open and honest about his silliness and his struggle.
I’ve always thought of Riley as someone supremely talented and I was in a whole sketch group that was in awe of him.
It’s very kind of him to post about his process and I’d like him to know as someone who creates, it’s very easy to relate to.
why would anyone think this is okay?
Oh man if this fake I think this is super hilarious.