I have officially graduated in good standing from the Intensive Program at the Lee Strasberg Film and Theater Institute! I did not think that I would come out of the program with such a concrete method of performing. I wish that I were acting every day so I could put it into practice in comedy and drama. Well - I sort of am - I am still taking my UCB level 201 course which runs until Friday. Mostly I feel enlivened by New York. I may not really get how great thing are here until I go back to Toronto and start to really compare my life there with my life here. I am starting to sprout some roots . . . I have pulled together a few good men to help me start a band!!! I am in the process of creating a practice group for improv and am looking for a place to stay for the next six - eight weeks. I do intend to come home for the summer, but will be getting as much out of New York as I can until then. If anyone knows of a place I can stay please let me know - everything here is crazy expensive - a room in a shared apartment in Manhattan is $1500. I would love a situation where I could house or pet sit for April and May . . .
In the meantime - I managed to find a little live band karaoke action. . . this is NOT my band, just a karaoke band.
As promised - now that I have a few days distance from my last method class (and a good night's sleep) - here is my attempt to explain what I understand to be 'The Method':
Make your choices based on faith and not fear. Do not walk into a scene without having prepared yourself by connecting to something from your real life that will infuse the scene with honest reactions and responses to dialogue. The thing that you connect with does not have to be traumatic! You can easily use sense memory to bring you into a time or place where you may have had a similar experience to the one you aim to have in the scene. Sense memory of a small detail surrounding a time in your life may be enough without going directly to that uber difficult moment. Also - you are in control of your emotional state. You are safe and only need go as deep as you feel comfortable going. What I learned most from this is that less is more. Don't panic, and trust yourself on stage.
The preparation I mentioned above happens on top of the script analysis, development of character objectives and other choices I make about the relationships within the scene and the play as a whole.
After that - listen to your scene partner and respond to what they are saying and how they are saying it. 'Acting is like Ping Pong' ~ Robert Duval
Don't direct yourself - don't pre-plan too much blocking in the initial stages of rehearsal, or do things because they should be done. Just allow yourself to be in the moment and indulge your spontaneous impulses.
Don't forget the moment before you come on stage (where was your character coming from?) I got a similar note in improv today as well - start the scene in the middle of the conversation - pretend you have already been hanging out for 20 minutes before the first line of dialogue you utter.
A note on a question I asked my teachers:
* How do you NOT anticipate that you will get a laugh in a certain place night after night when you are performing live comedy?
He gave the example of the Lunts who were a very famous and successful Broadway husband and wife team. In one play, during opening night, Alfred's first line was 'Pass the sugar,' which, due to his delivery, got a huge laugh. The next night he tried to go for the laugh again with no luck, and every night after that with no luck. He asked his wife why she thought he wasn't getting the laugh there. To which she replied - 'You're asking for the laugh. Ask for the sugar.'
My goal over the next month (to which I am almost committed to staying for) is to get busy! I have started to submit myself for films - I have 4 auditions this week. People here generally get several hundreds of submissions for each role so I am happy that I am having the opportunity to audition at all :-0 I am also planning to write more. Last June I had the goal of having a finished screenplay but it hasn't happened as of yet. There is an awesome creative energy here that is inspiring many things so I intend to channel that into the development of screen and stage plays.
'The harder you work - the harder it is to surrender.' Vince Lombardi