The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors


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Indeed, most people seem to believe that directing actors cant be taught, that its a matter of instinct and intuition, that you either have it or you dont. I find that many directors I meet, including talented and successful ones, are practically rudderless when it comes to directing actors, and worse, embarrassed about asking for help. Most directors know that they could benefit from better communication with actors.

the community theatre actors bible ten secrets to better acting for untrained actors Manual

The horror stories of breakdowns in communication between actors and directors are legion. Its easy to see how this can happen when inexperienced directors are paired with experienced, high-profile actors. I heard one story of a major star with a tough-guy image who, every time the director took him aside, would look up and say, loud enough for the crew to hear, You want me to suck what?

Now maybe the veteran actor was trying to relax the young director by teasing him out of some of his earnestness or maybe he was crudely letting the poor fellow know how stupid he thought the directors input was. Its not unusual for actors to be dismayed at how little directors know about them. First-time directors typically put a lot of care into getting the most production value for the money they have available, but very little care and preparation into guiding the performances; as a result, the worst thing about lowbudget films is usually the acting.

And communication problems are not limited to low-paid, inexperienced directors. Sometimes well- known actors and directors are disappointed when they finally work together. Because, with the exception of the handful of filmmakers with a background in theater or live television, who have had rehearsal experience, most do not have a reliable technique for working with actors. It does not need to be mystified. Over the years that I have been teaching my courses in acting, script analysis and rehearsal techniques for directors, I have evolved a set of principles and an assortment of tools which are the subject of this book.

They are not esoteric or fuzzy-headed; they are objective and usable. If you wish you can think of them as a set of rules they are that followable. They are not meant to be a cookbook, however; they are meant to open up for you your own priceless intuition. There is no cookbook. Youve got to completely let go of doing things right.

This is hard for a lot of people; it seems to go against all of our education. Although Ive been teaching mainly in Los Angeles, Ive also taught throughout the country as well as abroad, and have found that children everywhere basically are taught to please the teacher, do well on tests, and impress their classmates. I want to change your minds around a bit. When I teach my class I take the students through a series of exercises, first with a monologue and then with scenes, and I ask them to be patient with me, to go with me, even if something seems a little strange.

Because with each exercise we isolate some element of acting technique and examine its usefulness for directors, one at a time. Sometimes people get worried.


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Theyre looking for results, theyre looking for performance, theyre looking for the way to do it right, to not make a mistake. You have chosen a profession where mistakes are not always bad. For brain surgeons or airplane pilots, mistakes are nearly always a bad thing. But for those of us lucky enough, foolish enough, to follow our dreams into the entertainment industry, a mistake can be a blessing in disguise; it can jolt our attention away from preconceived ideas and into the present; it can open us to a new creative path.

Sometimes a mistake is our subconscious speaking, and we ought to listen to it. If anything, an artist needs to get kind of excited by mistakes. You will make mistakes. We are mistake-making creatures; we were built that way. What you as a director, the person in charge, must learn how to do is to bring creativity and a positive approach to mistakes, your own and others.

Artists tend by nature to be dark, worried, superstitious creatures. This is not bad. It makes you perfectionist, it makes you care. Moreover, the ability to see the darker side of life is an asset not just for directing dramatic and tragic movies, but also for directing comedy, since comedy often has pain inside it.

But a director who is negative or who projects his own insecurities onto his actors is very bad news. I often tell my students that whatever problems their actors present them with whether the actor is objecting to a line of dialogue or a piece of staging or the color of a wig or is forgetting his lines or hates her costar they should say to themselves, Im glad this happened!

And mean it! I offer you the exhilarating prospect of never again saying these four words: I had no choice.

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Our jobs in the entertainment industry always allow us creative choice. If you want a rehearsal period, you can find the time and money for it; you might have to give something up for it, you might have to sacrifice a special effect or an expensive location, but you have a choice. If the producer of your feature film tells you she cant get the money for the project unless you accept a certain actor in the lead role perhaps an actor you think is wrong for the part you must make the choice to work with that actor or give yourself permission to walk off the project.

Not that I encourage you to renege on your promises or give your word frivolously, but. And without freedom there can be no creativity. Some students tell me that the ideas and techniques I put forward seem at first radical and destabilizing. At first I was surprised, but then I realized that many people mistake opinion for intuition. Opinions are easy to have; they require no reflection. Sometimes people think intuition is the first idea that comes to you, that intuition requires no reflection. This is not the case. In order to access your intuition, you need to get below your preconceived ideas and access your deepest resources.

You need to recognize and reject pedestrian and obvious and clichd choices.

Generations

I dont intend to dampen or make you distrust your intuition. You cant be a good director without good instincts. There is no recipe I can give you that will guarantee youll have a good movie. Every rule I will give you can be broken, and should be broken if breaking it makes the movie better. Technique is not an end in itself.

The purpose of technique is to prepare the ground for inspiration.

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The Community Theatre Actors' Bible: 10 Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors

Everybody knows what to do when inspired! Thats true by definition. But you cant decide to be inspired. And if you try to be inspired, the strain of the effort only creates tension, taking you farther and farther away from the effortlessness that characterizes inspiration. Technique does two wonderful things: it gives you something to fall back on, something to do while you are waiting for inspiration; and it aerates your brain, makes you think, makes you choose and then you are ready for inspiration, should inspiration decide to strike. When you are working well, you are in the safest place for trusting your instincts.

When you are not working well, you may confuse intuition with assumptions, you may mistake prejudice for vision. So I invite you to break habit; I invite you to question conventional wisdom, to get beyond your prejudices and assumptions, to go below the surface, and awaken your intuition at a new, deeper level. In other words, learn the rules. Then forget them.

Interviews

This takes work, probably more work than you realized was involved in directing. But Im going to take you through it, step by step. Once you get on the inside, you will feel liberated. And if you are among the happy few who already have a directing technique that works, then you already know how important it is to keep learning and growing; for you, the proposals and exercises of this book are intended to challenge, refresh, and stretch your skills and imagination.

Just one warning: Im not going to teach you how to be commercial.


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Trying to be commercial is just an excuse for not doing the hard work of being original. No one knows whats commercial anyway, not until the weekend box office figures are printed in the newspaper on Monday morning. In this business, people who claim they can assure you commercial success are not to be trusted. Their technique is invisible, they seem to become the character, they seem to speak and move out of the characters impulses and needs, their feelings well up strong and apparently unbidden. They dont look rehearsed, they seem to be speaking their own words, they seem to be improvising.

To the general public it probably looks as though the actor must be just like the character and must not have had to do any work to play the role. To people knowledgeable about the demands of performing, such a seamless portrayal is a touch of the divine, a miracle. Rigorous technique and careful detail go into such performances. One of the things this book will do is to investigate the actors world, his tools, resources, and training.

Sometimes directors ask me why I want them to know so much about actors. Is the director supposed to monitor the actor in each and every choice?

Deconstruction of Bourgeois Theatre

Is the director supposed to guide the actor through Method emotional memory exercises? If the actor is having problems, should the director give acting lessons on the set? How much responsibility does the director have for the performances? Acting and directing are two very different jobs. It is exactly because I think the director and the actor each should be must be free to do his own work that I believe directors should know more about actors and acting.

This is why even actors themselves dont automatically know how to direct other actors.

The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors
The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors
The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors
The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors
The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors
The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors
The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors
The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors
The Community Theatre Actors Bible: Ten Secrets to Better Acting for Untrained Actors

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