A

A.C.T. exercise (action condition telephone call), 67, 84,103-111,142,160-161, 178,214 Abraham, Donna, 27, 189 acting a negative, 92-93, 96 acting journal. See actor's notebook action verbs, 117 Action Condition Telephone Call. See A.C.T. exercise actions, 103,185,198 activity, 104, 110 in Emotional Recall exercise, 152-153 in Character Private Moments, 172-173. See also tasks actor's notebook, 30, 80, 207 actor's secret, 68, 70, 76 Actor's Studio, xiv, 141 actor's toolbox, xv-xiv Adler,...

Note For Leaders

Leaders who wish to use these exercises must remember the deeply personal nature of this work, and students must remember never to violate their own sense of trust. Some students will take great risks immediately with these exercises. That does not mean everyone should. An instructor should never push an actor who is reluctant, and an actor should never cross her own personal bounds, whether it's nudity, disclosing sensitive and personal information, or tackling events from the past that are...

Note On Leading The Fallout And Song Exercise

It takes a lot of work on my part or any leader's part to do exercises like these. Not only does it take an extremely long period of time (typically an hour for the Fallout and ninety minutes for the Song Exercise, as I said before), but it requires staying ahead of the actor and being sensitive to what the actor can or cannot handle. If you intend to lead these exercises, be sensitive to whom you're working with. Do not push too far in the same directions, but mix it up. For instance, the...

About The Author

Schreiber Studio in New York City, Terry Schreiber has taught thousands of actors since 1969. He has directed Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, including the Tony Award-nominated K2. Terry has also taken his love and talent for the craft beyond T.S.S. and the bright lights of Broadway by producing and directing numerous OffOff-Broadway shows contributing as director at regional theaters throughout the United States mounting six productions in Tokyo, Japan and...

Acting Technique

New York Applause Theatre & Cinema Book Publishers, 2000. Adler, Stella. The Technique of Acting. New York Bantam, 1990. Boleslavski, Richard. Acting The First Six Lessons. London Routledge, 1970. Chekhov, Michael. To the Actor On the Technique of Acting. London and New York Routledge, 2002. Chekhov, Michael. To the Actor. New York Harper Resource, 1991. Easty, Edward Dwight. On Method Acting. New York Ivy Books, 1989. Gordon, Mel. Stanislavsky Technique...

Activity

First the actor as himself (the who) decides where the scene should take place (the where) and at what point in his life this scene took place (the when). He then chooses an overall event or activity (the what) that has some importance (the why), filled with five or six tasks that must be done to complete the activity (the how). For example Sample Overall Activity I'm in my apartment and must get ready to leave for the airport. Sample Tasks Shaving, brushing teeth, selecting what to pack and...

Age Exercise

We've all seen actors playing roles that are years different from their actual ages older actors playing characters who are decades younger, or younger actors doing a fantastic job playing characters much older than themselves. Who could forget Orson Welles as Citizen Kane Some plays progress over years of time sometimes decades and actors are required to make a jump from being a teenager to a middle-aged adult to a grandparent. How can actors be truthful in their choices and physicality other...

An Actors Secret

A physical condition can add a layer to a scene by having the actors pretend to have an obvious physical condition. Then I take the physical condition work a step further I instruct them to hide or internalize the physical condition. An audience wouldn't see that the character is drunk, but rather that there was a psychological state that was different and interesting. The physical condition would be the actor's secret, a tool to produce the desired emotional effect. The emotions elicited from...

Application Of Exercise Work

With the help and support of the actor's Road Map, the next step is solving the active problems the scene presents. It's at this point that the lessons learned from the individual exercises or other acting instruction can be applied. I encourage my students to use the tools that work for them, whether they're ones I've introduced them to or ones they've learned elsewhere. The actor should create and organically fulfill an interesting character life that fleshes out and fulfills the writing. I...

Assigning Scenes

Some instructors like students to pick out their own scenes, and to choose their own acting partners. But I don't do that, at least not with my advanced acting students. The real world is full of situations where actors don't get to choose whom they play opposite. Often they are encouraged to play roles they're unfamiliar with, or wouldn't instinctually gravitate to. The real-world practice alone is enough reason to have an instructor decide the roles and scenes. But typically, I have more...

Baby Exercise

This is an opportunity for the actors to explore a time when they were dependent on their senses for basic survival and dependent on the adults who had to tend to their every need. All inhibitions are dropped when the actors return to being babies. It's amazing what happens when we are stripped of words and must communicate with sounds and tactile awareness. The exercise is performed totally on the floor after the initial relaxation. It begins with each actor going back to a time when he was a...

Beachsunningwater

When I have a lot of new students in my class, I often introduce them to the work with the Beach sensory exercise. It has served as a good icebreaker into the work since the sense memory of sunny beaches is very strong, there is less to fear than in the Height exercise, and it doesn't require a suspending of disbelief at the beginning like the Floating exercise. Again, this exercise begins with the same premise as the other two previously described students on the floor, lying on their backs....

Before Classchoosing Private Momentsthe Storyboard

For this exercise, the key acting questions of who and where are answered simply The actor is in his apartment, alone. The when is a Saturday night, and no one else is around. For the what, one of two premises can be used to structure the exercise I am alone and the walls are closing in. How do I make it through the night I am alone, and I am really looking forward to having the place all to myself. The exercise is the exploration of doing the what and how.

Chapter Validating The Self The Private Moment

Practical Purpose Before Class Choosing Private Moments The Storyboard What Is a Private Moment Parts One and Two Private Moment Preparation Sidebar Opening Up a Sensual Side Performing the Private Moment, Parts One and Two Private Moment, Part Three Sidebar The Private Moment, Years Later, On Stage Sidebar Tipping Point of a Career Character Private Moments Sidebar A Gut-Wrenching Moment

Class And Rehearsal Space

The space used for practice whether it's for rehearsing or for class work is incredibly important. The space must be a sanctuary for the actors, away from the distractions of the world. The rooms or studios used must allow the freedom for the actors to propel themselves into an alternative state of creativity, and to do that they need space, safety, and the ability to work. I've never understood how some teachers can sell students on acting classes out of their home or apartment. Unless the...

Cold

Once the students are seated comfortably, with their eyes closed, I put them in a specific place. You are outside, I say to them. It is well below freezing. You are wearing what you presently have on. This is an especially interesting exercise to use in the summertime, when students arrive in shorts and tank tops or light shirts. Explore what your toes feel like inside your shoes and stockings or sandals. Often the students will feel their feet as immediately frozen. Move the toes slowly, keep...

Concentration

Contrary to popular belief, acting is not a natural process. We can only strive to make it look like it is. Once the actor is properly relaxed and prepared to fully use his body and voice, we are then ready to go to various exercises that help get to the next step the imagination, sometimes called the inner life or the organic life. I think most people would agree that the art of acting is rather presumptive. Expecting people to feel emotional empathy for a character who has been created by a...

Conclusion

The exercises I have talked about in this chapter and the other chapters in Part II, produce wonderful and unique individual behavior, not clich d choices, provided they are done correctly. The clich can be valid, but often ends up being obvious and usually not very interesting. Other directors or teachers reading this book may have many valid and terrific sensory and physical-condition exercises they that do or that they could add. I have only dealt with the ones I use to create interesting,...

Creating A Characterise Spoon River Exercise

At last actual written dialogue The Spoon River is the first of the six advanced individual exercises in my classes, and a perfect introduction to character development based on the playwright's words or, in this case, Edgar Lee Masters' poetry from the Spoon River Anthology. It's also the first that requires a significant amount of homework preparation before class. As the first solo exercise in my class, the Spoon River work is a great introduction for what's to come and for the actor...

Dont Predict

While the actor may be preparing an overall psychological and emotional state for a scene in an offstage prep, that emotion may not appear until midway through a scene. For example, think of young Juliet waking up next to her Romeo. At first she thinks she's escaped with him and will live a happy life. But then the realization that he has killed himself hits her, and her mood takes a 180-degree turn. The actor playing Juliet must from her own reality or as-if be able to create the horror of...

Exploring The Subconsciousemotional Recall

The Emotional Recall, or E.R., is a three-step exercise that I have used for the past thirty-four years of teaching. It can also be called Effective Memory. To give credit where credit is due, Lee Strasberg developed this exercise, garnered from his work with Stanislavski's exercises. It's one that Lee used to great effect with the Group Theatre and later in his teaching at the Actor's Studio. I was introduced to it by Michael Howard and considered it to be an invaluable training and process...

F

Face exercise, 61-65, 213 eyes, 62-63 face in total, 63 hair and forehead, 62 moody face, 63-64 monologue, 64-65 failure, importance of, xvii, 37, 168 Fallout exercise, 27, 84,114-31,135,154, 156, 166, 178, 214 adult relationships, 128-29 application, 131 childhood, 121-23 against, 117 exercise format, 118 fear, 120 finale, 129-30 for leaders, danger signs, 117 loaded action verbs, 117-118 monologue, 130-31 pre-exercise conference, 118 shyness, 120 teenage years, 124 warm-up phrases, 118-19...

Face

The Face exercise is a personalization or endowment exercise. I think it is a terrific tool to use for homework and can be projected onto an actor you are working with. For example, an actor might have a script that indicates an intense relationship with her mother, father, brother, sister, lover, or friend. In the best of all possible worlds, the actors should be able to take the time and effort to give each other exactly what they need. But often in a rehearsal period, there isn't that time....

Fight Against Emotions

One of the great dichotomies in acting is that fully realized characters will often feel an emotion, but be doing everything to work against it. Think of a woman whose mother just died but must smile through her pain, or the love-struck young man who lost his virginity the night before and tries to keep a straight face at his parents' breakfast table. Or two family members who, while furious with each other, work with all their might to control their tempers until they finally explode. In all...

Film Technique

Actingfor the Camera, Rev. Ed. New York Perennial Currents, 1997. Caine, Michael. Acting in Film An Actor's Take on Movie Making, Rev. Ed. New York Applause Books, 1997. Carlson, Steve. Hitting Your Mark What Every Actor Really Needs to Know on a Hollywood Set. Studio City (CA) Michael Wiener Productions, 1999. Guskin, Harold. How to Stop Acting. London Faber & Faber, 2003. Tucker, Patrick. Secrets of Screen Acting. New York Routledge, 2003.

First Rehearsal

The actors should try to find a good rehearsal space that is convenient for both. If the actors must rehearse at an apartment because of economic or other reasons, they should be sure there is privacy. There should be no husband, wife, lover, child, or roommate lurking in the next room, and the actors should have enough space to work comfortably. At the rehearsal, the actors should discuss the set to be used in class. Sometimes it helps to initially use a set of some sort for the rehearsal....

First Time

The first time two actors are up with a scene, I generally wait to see what they are doing, and I do not interrupt unless the scene is incredibly misinterpreted so far off the mark that it would be a waste of time to play through. The completion of the scene will typically come with one or both actors on stage, and one of them will simply say Scene to mark the end. If one partner makes an exit, the other actor on stage plays through until she or the leader says Okay and stops. The scene is...

Floating

The Floating exercise is ideal for the actor to experience the lightness of body, comfort, joy, and pleasure of floating on a cloud. Because humans cannot fly like Superman, this particular exercise requires the actors to suspend their disbelief. The senses will still be at work during this exercise, intertwined with the imagination. Like the Height exercise, it starts after the initial relaxation, with actors laying on the floor on their backs. I then tell them that a breeze driving a cloud...

Foreword

There are a lot of really good actors, but very few really good acting teachers. When I moved to New York, the path to training as an actor was about as clear as wading into the Everglades. There were MFA programs, storied studios, private academies with famous alumni, theater-affiliated repertory programs, the institutionalized legacies of famous teachers past, and innumerable well-known directors running classes on the side. Sprinkled among and around all of these were an astonishing array of...

G

General sensory exercises, see Sensory Exercises general George Trimble (Spoon River Anthology), 86 gibberish, 158 Gibson, William, 192 give or get, 65, 94, 96 in Emotional Recall exercise, 156, 158 in scenes, 181 givens, 85,103-4,171,178,185, 197, 205-7 Glass Menagerie, The (Williams), 74 Glezos, Irene, 210 Greenberg, Richard, 109 group exercises, 39-82 introduction to, 39-40. See also Sensory exercises general Sensory exercises personal Physical-Condition exercises Group Theatre, xiii, xiv,...

I

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, 99 Ibsen, Henrik, 95, 191 imagination, 1-2, 22, 25-28, 39,163 dangers of abuse, 26 in Height exercise, 41 in Private Moment exercise, 175 Impairment exercises, 78-79 In the Matter ofJ. Robert Oppenheimer (Kipphardt), 101 individual exercises, 83-175 Inge, William, 31 injuries, foot, knee or lower-back problems, 15 inner life, 22, 25, 39, 60, 99,153,178, 218 in Emotional Recall exercise, 152 inner monologue, see inner life Insanity exercise, 79-81 the tic,...

It All Comes Down To Text

Certain writers may present problems to an actor because the character's rhythm and vocabulary is different from or totally foreign to the actor's. Regional accents formulate sentences in a particular manner, as do individual characters. The playwright has done a great deal of work creating the characters, and it's up to the actor to play them realistically. This is not possible if the actor changes the words or sentence structure to fit her own sense of language. One complaint that I have...

Meal

The Meal sensory exercise requires hard chairs for the students. I have them sit with their feet on the floor, their palms laying on their thighs and turned up, or their arms hanging at their sides. The body should be as open as possible. I tell them to feel the chair against the back of their thighs, buttocks, and backs. Feel your clothes against your bodies, your underwear against the skin. Once they are properly relaxed, it's time to feast. Now, let's have a five-course meal of your favorite...

Mind Heart Will

I attempt in my classroom, as any good instructor should, to build the three ingredients of the actor's work Mind, Heart, Will. The Mind, in all its brightness, interprets and understands the text from the playwright and interpretation from the director. The Heart adds the feeling and the emotional life to create a real and honest character. The Will is the final component that confronts the personal protections we all have, and allows actors to put them-selves their minds and, especially,...

Mixed Soundsmell

Now that I've explained how these sensory exercises are led, it's easy to create a number of different scenarios and settings that can stimulate the imagination. These exercises don't necessarily need to be led by someone. An actor can do this work on her own. I suggest sitting on a hard chair instead of on the floor, since it keeps the imagination more alert after the relaxation process. A vacation place in the mountains A ski lodge around the fireplace at night A hike in the desert mountains...

Monologues

For some of the exercises, I tell the students they must have a memorized monologue in their repertoire. (In my opinion, all advanced acting students should have a handful of monologues they can access at a moment's notice.) Most certainly the students in my class should always have one available for the group exercise. But if a leader chooses to use this exercise with a group of actors, it's a good idea to let them know ahead of time to memorize but not necessarily prepare a monologue. Actors...

My Experience

I arrived in New York City in 1960 after receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English and Speech from St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minnesota. The majority of my acting training at that time was from college, while my experience was from the three years I spent participating in summer stock, community theater, and university productions. Up to that point, I learned on the job, so to speak. After college, I did what many young people who are interested in pursuing acting do I moved to the bright...

No One Technique

Throughout all these years of teaching, I have tested and developed various exercises. I kept some, discarded others, and assigned more basic exercises to staff members who are teaching beginning or intermediate level classes. I have taken exercises from Strasberg, Meisner, Adler, Michael Chekhov (the Russian actor and nephew of playwright Anton Chekhov), and others. I have redefined their exercises for my classes. Sometimes, I've gone my own way and developed new exercises. It has been an...

Objective

Finding an Objective is a concept that should be introduced in beginning acting scene study classes. It is the center of all acting, and comes back to answering the question, What did the character come on stage to do To my knowledge, Stanislavski is the first person to use the concept of the super objective as pertaining to a character's overall driving force throughout an entire play the character's through line. I narrow this down to the character's Objective in the particular scene. The...

Group Exercises

The following group exercises are separated into general sensory, personal sensory, and physical-condition exercises. The sensory exercises emphasize utilizing the five senses smell, hearing, taste, sight, and touch while the physical-condition exercises lead actors through the process of exploring their reactions when their bodies are in different states, such as pain, drunkenness, hunger, thirst, and so on. Personal sensory exercises relate specifically to experiences unique to each actor's...

Scene Study

Exercises alone cannot teach students how to act. They must learn by doing and that involves interaction with other actors as characters, with real words from real plays. Any class of mine combines the exercise work with scene study in order for the actor to constantly apply the value of an exercise to solve scene problems. Areas that we can break open with the exercises are reference points. They are tools to use when an actor is blocked from the organic understanding of a character, or if she...

Parts One And

In class, the actor does these Private Moments in succession first, Parts One and Two and then, a few weeks later, he repeats Parts One and Two and adds Part Three. In real life, the actor might not do all these activities on the same night, but the choices are compacted for the sake of the exercise. As with the other exercises, the actor meets with me privately before doing any of the Private Moments in class and reviews his three choices. Before the meeting, I ask the actor to start by...

Practical Purpose

This illusion of privacy is very difficult for an actor to create, whether he is in a rehearsal space, on a stage, or on a television or movie set. Rehearsals can be awkward because there may be a room full of other cast members, stage managers, tech people, and the director. Rehearsals are additionally awkward because they typically take place in a raw, brightly lit space all things contriving to make being private very difficult. Ultimately, there are audience members and critics present...

Preliminary Meeting

The first meeting should be confined to a get-acquainted session, especially if the partners do not know each other very well. But it should not be turned into a coffee klatch, gossip session, or personal discussion. Getting acquainted and becoming friends is laudable, but when there's work to do, the actors should focus on the work. After getting acquainted, the actors should begin by reading the scene. Each should have read the entire play at least once (preferably more than once), and read...

Preparation

Proper preparation and training are absolutely necessary for success in the acting world. Training be it body or vocal or both is vital. One of the reasons why I feel the British have stolen the American stage is they can move and speak. They're comfortable in their own skin. And, with the exception of a few plays with distractingly heavy accents, they can be heard and understood. The school of naturalistic mumbling is over. The theater as well as good television and film is about words. While...

Preparation And Rehearsal

Before I describe the telephone call, I want to discuss the Activity and Condition preparation. The rehearsal and preparation for the A.C.T. in class is very similar to the Pain or other physical-condition exercises I described earlier, only that the actor must do the work on his own rather than being led by me. Before starting to rehearse, the actor should sit and, with his imagination, start the pain in one small spot. Once his imagination is firmly rooted in the memory of the physical...

Relax And Prepare

I think I've said it a hundred times in this book . . . and I'm going to say it again An actor should never start working without relaxing first. This means getting rid of tension and centering the energy. Some people like to jump or run to eliminate excess energy, but often these methods won't be available if the actor is backstage before a show or in a cramped dressing room before doing a scene in class. In these cramped conditions, she might try portions of the warm-up that I led before the...

Rules For Rehearsal

Once a scene has been assigned, there is a bit of work that must be done by each individual actor before starting rehearsals. The first and most obvious is the reading of the text not only of the scene itself, but of the entire play. Before sitting down for a rehearsal, each actor should have a good idea of her character as well as of the other characters in the play. Meeting a scene partner with no prior knowledge of the script is unfair and can rightfully cause resentment from the scene...

Scene Problemspersonal Problems

No actor alive can solve and play any kind of role, but the exercises and scene work can help an actor to open up a large range of possibilities with her instrument. But sometimes the block preventing the life of a character is the same block the actor has in her own personal life. If an actor going through a painful divorce in his own personal life is playing a character going through a similar situation, there is a tendency to block those emotions, even if they are fabricated ones for a...

Scenes In Class

No actor should ever just jump up and do a scene. As with the group and individual exercises, preparation is needed. Before the scene starts, the actors should go to a dressing room and prepare preferably alone, and preferably fifteen or twenty minutes before the scene. Some actors need more time, and should take it. Use the time off stage to first get relaxed, centered, and ready to work. Once that's set, work on your preparation where you want to be psychologically and emotionally to start...

Second Rehearsal

The actors should drop the books for this one. They can't do the work if their noses are buried in the script. They should know the lines cold, because they can't do the work if they do not know what they are going to say next. The actors should also be sure they know what they have come in to work on or to solve. The Objective should be very clear to the actor by now, as well as what tools she has to use and apply to fulfill her Objective. The arc or flow of the scene should also be clear at...

Second Time

A good actor will take notes during the first critique so she can go back to rehearsal and know what to work on. Actors shouldn't simply trust their memory to remember the details. Grab your acting journals. The actors should refer to these notes from the critique during the subsequent rehearsals. They should have a minimum of two more good working rehearsals before remounting the scene. This is when they each go to work from their specific notes and dig much deeper into the character. When...

T

Schreiber Studio Talley's Folly (Wilson), 131 tasks, 104, 110, 153, 160 in Emotional Recall exercise, 153 taste, sense of, 23, 39 in Height exercise, 42 tension, general problem, 3-8 therapy, not in the acting arena, 37, 138-39 To the Actor On the Technique of Acting (M. Chekhov), 48, 98 Tortsov (An Actor Prepares), 21 touch, sense of, 24, 39 in Height exercise, 41 typecasting, 179

Teacher

Copyright under Berne Copyright Convention, Universal Copyright Convention, and Pan-American Copyright Convention. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior permission of the publisher. An imprint of Allworth Communications, Inc. 10 East 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010 Cover design by Derek Bacchus Interior design by Mary...

Tensionthe Enemy Of The Actor

If an actor is not relaxed in front of a camera, his work will be false and uncomfortable. The camera may focus on only the face or a portion of the body at times, but the entire body must be relaxed in order for the actor to produce honest, quality work. Film work is essentially eyeball acting the camera catches the truth of emotion in the eyes. If an actor makes love to the camera, the camera will make love back. But if there is body tension, there will inevitably be blocked emotions. The...

Third Rehearsal

This rehearsal is about honing in on the final choices the actors have made. After this rehearsal, they should be prepared to bring the scene into the classroom. Everything the actors are going to do and wear should be at this rehearsal. The proper costumes and props should be used activities such as eating or drinking should be done with actual silverware and glassware, not mimed. This is also the last chance to bring in anything new and work it through with your acting partner. Do not spring...

W

Wang, Stephanie, 50 Warfield,Joe, 170 warm-up program, 10-20 adding movement, 14-16 back stretch, 18-19 before scene work, 209 beginning body position, 11 Bioenergetic drop-overs, 18 breathe and release thoughts, 20 check-in, 11-13 completing, 20 Detchire, 16-17 energy from the floor, 13 floor stretch, 19 floor work, 19 good vibrations, 16 Wasserstein, Wendy, 180 Weiss, Jason, 53, 69-70 Wells, Orson, 58 Wilde, Oscar, 95, 180 Wilder, Thorton, 91 will, xvii, 22, 108, 114, 218 in Emotional Recall,...

What Is A Private Moment

In essence, a Private Moment is an activity done by the actor in the privacy of his own living space. In some ways, the Private Moment is similar to the A.C.T. or the second part of the Emotional Recall, especially in the preparation and rehearsal of the activities. But the Private Moment is more than simply a series of tasks it's an intensely personal activity that would normally not be done in front of relative strangers such as the acting class, or in performance in front of an audience. The...

What Weve Learned

There's a lot of value in this exercise for scene work. If nothing else, it helps the actor with the technique of making a phone call. Plays, especially ones by beginning playwrights, are filled with phone calls. The actor finds in this exercise that he may only briefly get a sound of the person he is calling, but other images like the person's face, clothing, or expression will come alive. The phone call also nails the importance of personalization personalizing whom the actor is talking to...

Where Have You Been

The actor always has to know the character's psychological and emotional state for the beginning of the scene. Even in the first scene of the play, the character comes from somewhere and feels something. This is when the Emotional Recall exercise or a sensory task can be very effective. This kind of work can take an actor to the given state they desire from the character's entrance. The actor may prepare by working from her own reality of a similar event or use the as-if to imagine the event....

Working Title

The Working Title answers the question, From the beginning, what kind of scene is this for your character In other words, the actor is looking for an action word that stimulates her imagination and sums up what the event of the scene is, from the start, for her character. Examples include It's important to remember that the Title does not apply to the overall play, just what the character is trying to do in the overall scene. It applies to the emotional and mental mindset of the character from...

Spoon River Part Twoanimal Work And Psychological Center

Now that the actor has done Spoon River, Part One, she not only knows the poem backward and forward, but also has a keen insight into the character through the biography and other work. It's time to add on external life, the specific idiosyncrasies of a character in this case, through animal work that establishes a character's psychological center. The first step to Spoon River, Part Two, isn't actually homework it's a field trip. Each actor goes to a zoo and selects an animal to use for the...

Chapter Creating A Character The Spoon River Exercise

Spoon River, Part One Introduction to the Character Sidebar Mrs. Sibley Said Nothing, and Everything Spoon River, Part Two Animal Work and Psychological Center Sidebar Rose Ritz, Fancy Peacock Chapter 9 Making A Scene The A.C.T. (Action Condition Telephone Call) 103 Activity Physical Condition Sidebar Sisterly Love Preparation and Rehearsal Telephone Call A.C.T. in Class Sidebar Cleaning Up, the Hangover, and the Confession What We've Learned

The Givens

There is always information that the playwright gives about his characters, even in the most obtuse piece of work. This is where careful examination of the entire text and not just the scene will delineate character behavior from the playwright's point of view. The text will tell the actor what she needs to know about the character and what the character is doing about these facts, or Givens. Knowing the Givens of a text is essential, which is why it's so important to thoroughly read the full...

Freeing The Instrument The Fallout And The Song Exercise

Frequently there are moments called for in a play or film script that will be very personal. The actors come to rehearsal knowing where they will have to go to find the inner truth. Some actors can jump right into the scene without fear. As I've said throughout this book, acting that seems spontaneous what an observer may call real versus staged requires relaxation and concentration. Once these two steps are achieved, it's time to put the entire instrument of the brain, body, and emotions to...

Methodology

The first question I anticipate when potential students come to an orientation for my class is, Which acting method does Terry Schreiber teach Every teacher has his own particular methodology, the basic philosophy of acting instruction that is manifested in instruction, exercises, and scene study. The final goal of any method is acting that combines intellect with instincts, and the goal of any acting course is to produce actors who float with ease, simplicity, and spontaneity between the two....

Warmup Program

As I said at the beginning of this section, proper relaxation is vital to an actor for rehearsals, for auditions, and for production. After years of experience and trial and error, I have developed a standard warm-up that I use in my classes. While it's typically easier to show someone how to do this preparation than to write about it in a book, I'm going to do my best to describe the process that I use. I take my students through a series of steps to achieve a centered and balanced stance.*...

D

(Nichols), 169 Deafness exercise, 77-78 don't go alone, 77 Death ofa Salesman (Miller), 27 defense system, emotional, 3. See also Fallout, Private Moment exercise defense system, muscular, 5. See also Relaxation, Bioenergetics Detchire, 16-17 dialects, 179-80 drop-over, 143,148 drug addiction, 139. See also alcoholism, Drunkenness exercise, Drugs exercise Drugs exercise, 72-74 caution 73 have a NICE trip, 73 no drugs needed, 73. See also drug addiction, alcoholism, Drunkenness exercise...

Making A Scene The

The A.C.T. is the first exercise that my students do that emphasizes action and the creation of a scene, with the secondary benefit of using sensory details and a physical condition to enhance the emotional reality for the actor. As noted in the title, the initials of this exercise stand for Action, physical Condition, and Telephone call. All three elements must be planned and rehearsed in advance by the actor. The activity and physical condition must be explored and rehearsed ahead of time....

Height

This particular exercise starts with the students on the floor after the relaxation warm-up. I ask the actors to lie on their backs and imagine that they've just climbed a very high mountain, one that is at least five thousand feet. They are sweaty and tired, and they have to catch their breath at this altitude. They should be working with their eyes closed. This is a must because I want them to heighten the senses other than sight first. Be aware of what you are laying on, I tell them. Is it a...

Imagination

In advanced acting training, it's the imagination the actors are primarily concerned with tapping into. Imagination is the subconscious, or the inner life, and is what makes good acting seem real. The senses help with concentration and work to stimulate the imagination and create a sense of reality. Obviously, the most direct way of working with the senses is through direct stimulation. If the actor is supposed to be sick from the smell of garbage, it would be convenient to carry a bag of...

The Sensesfive Powerful Tools

Earlier I discussed the three acting ingredients of mind, heart, and will to produce the ideal result of realistic and full acting. The four components of this goal are relaxation, concentration, imagination, and preparation. A clear and perceptive mind is of major importance to interpreting a role, but our sensitivity and instincts must also be involved. Otherwise we merely create a walking and talking head devoid of real emotions. The acting seems fake to an observer. The actor must be able...

Appendix B

This is not a definitive list, but a suggested one for serious students to review a body of work, especially for script analysis purposes. Many more names belong here, but it's a good place to start. Edward Albee Alan Ayckbourn Samuel Beckett Caryl Churchill Noel Coward Anton Chekhov Christopher Durang Horton Foote Brian Friel Athol Fugard John Guare A. R. Gurney Lillian Hellman Israel Horovitz Tina Howe Henrik Ibsen William Inge David Mamet Terrence McNally Arthur Miller Eugene O'Neill...

L

Lady Macbeth Macbeth , 28, 80 language, heightened, 95-96, 214 leading acting exercises, responsibility of, 35-37 Lenny The Homecoming , 188 Lewis, Bobby, xiii, xiv, xv, 6 Lie of the Mind Shepard , 168 life behind the eyes. See Inner Life life, 218 in Emotional Recall exercise, 141, 149, 153-55. See also Inner Life Lila A Loss ofRoses , 31 Linda Death ofa Salesman , 27 lines, calling for, 205 Lipscomb, Dennis, 213 Loss ofRoses, A Inge , 31 love scenes. See sexuality love, as prime emotion, 89,...

The Actors Notebook

A sensory exercise spurs wild laughter. A physical-condition exercise adds a rich inner life to an otherwise unimpressive monologue. A piece of music brings an actor's imagination into the ideal setting and mindset for a character. Wonderful But what good is this if, in the real acting situations later on, the actor doesn't remember them I tell my students that it's a good idea to always have an Actor's Notebook so they can record their findings from class and elsewhere for future reference. As...

Drunkenness

Performing drunkenness well on stage is not an easy task. It requires extreme relaxation from the hips on down, especially the pelvic area into the legs. But it also requires a sense of realness, which is best achieved by exploring drunkenness through a physical-condition exercise done just as thoroughly as cold and heat. Students who are recovering alcoholics should be extremely careful with this exercise, or possibly not participate. Recreating the taste and smell for a recovering alcoholic...

Private Momentpreparation

The first step is for the actor and me to sit down and discuss the exercise. I want to hear about his choices. When the actor discusses these three choices with me, I want to make sure that He picks three choices that bring out different private sides of him The choices are challenging and not too safe One of the choices has a sexual1 undertone or component None of the choices would violate the actor Sometimes the choices are rudimentary things, like extensive teeth-brushing and bedtime...

Song Exercise

While I usually do the Fallout for most of my students, there are always a few who don't take to the exercise. For these students, the Song Exercise achieves some of the same results the full expression of mind-to-heart-to-will but through a slightly different method that incorporates singing. I will often suggest the Song Exercise for an actor based on my observation of his body, tensions, lack of physical freedom, or will to get out there with himself. This has far more movement than the...

Beats

The next step is to break the scene into Beats and score the scene like a piece of music. A new beat occurs when the previous subject matter or a physical activity changes the previous action. A new Beat can be created from an entrance, exit, kiss, slap, or shout, or simply from a change of direction in conversation. Each one of these Beats should be given an action intention verb, and the verbs should be what the actor is playing doing in an attempt to fulfill her overall Objective. While I...

Note On Personal Pronouns

Every writer of instructional manuals today encounters problems with personal pronouns. How should I refer to the actor or the student, since the singular pronouns include both he and she In the past, authors had simply used the masculine pronoun, referring to every generic usage as he. But these are more liberated times, and I have a problem with using only he, since approximately half of my students are female. Some authors will solve this problem by using he or she or he she, both of which I...

Telephone Call

For this part, the actor should go back through his memory track and select an actual phone call that was very difficult to make, but one that he'd be willing to recreate in front of the class. I always suggest going back at least two years for the selection, since something recent is going to sound scripted. The actor may also say things he wanted to say but that were suppressed when the actual phone call was made. And, as I said before, in rehearsal at home, the actor does not rehearse the...

Spoon River Part Oneintroduction To The Character

The exercise starts with the purchase of a copy of the Spoon River Anthology, a collection of poetry first published in 1915 by Masters, a novelist and poet. The book was eventually turned into a play of the same name, with the characters based on the poems. I insist that the actors in my class buy the book, not the play, as the book gives an actor a wider selection of characters. Each poem in the book is the epitaph for the deceased fictional members of the town of Spoon River, Illinois. The...

Emotional Recall Part

For step one of the Emotional Recall, I ask the actor to chose an event from her past that had a strong impact. I encourage my students to choose an event from childhood. The event should, at a minimum, be something that occurred at least seven years ago. A recent event is too fresh, and the actor will try and think the event rather than find it through sense memory. Another qualification of the event for this exercise is that it has to be something that ended in a large moment a traumatic...

Dont Go Alone

I don't recommend that an actor attempt to do these sensory exercises in a public setting without a partner. Accidents can happen. Someone who is practicing blindness may not open his eyes to see an oncoming car until it's too late, and someone practicing deafness might not hear a siren or warning shout when needed. Individuals who have impairments like deafness or blindness require many years to adjust and build up their other senses so they can go out into public places safely. A practicing...

Actions Also Called Intention

The Actions are the verbs the actor is playing to fulfill the Objective. Some directors or teachers speak of intention, and I mean exactly the same thing by using the word Action. For example, Romeo's overall Objective is to obtain Juliet. He may first try the Action of to cajole. If that doesn't work, he may try to plead. If that further fails him, he may try to seduce anything he can do to obtain his Objective as Juliet presents obstacles. There could be dozens of actions in a scene,...

Relaxation

I was casting a Broadway play a few years ago, and the producer and I saw quite a few people because the play had a large cast. At the end of the day, and without communicating about each individual audition, we had the exact same scorecard for callbacks. After three days of these preliminaries, I was curious as to what system he was using. He told me that he ended up eliminating three-quarters of the actors not based on their audition, but based on how they walked to center stage. There is...

Fallout

I have put this exercise together from my many years of teaching by combining sections from exercises that I did in the past, ending up with this all-encompassing workout called the Fallout. It includes principles of Bioenergetic work and has served as a magic release for a number of actors. It is a very long exercise, taking a good hour, but during the work, the entire class remains riveted and working with the actor. I call this exercise the Fallout because the actor gets out or falls out by...

Acknowledgments

My enormous gratitude and thanks to Mary Beth Barber, whose unflagging energy, skill, patience, perseverance, support, and optimism made the assembly of this book possible. I do not think you ever really know anyone until the working together gets tough and demanding. Over the last two years, we met, wrote, rewrote, cut, and assembled. While under tremendous pressure from other job demands, Mary Beth was always there with tremendous determination, energy, and tenacity. Or, in acting terms,...

Act In Class

The actor sets the stage himself and tries to recreate the chosen setting as much as possible using available furniture and props. I always encourage the use of personal items to help give the space the sensory details that the actor can use. For example, if the scene takes place in the actor's apartment, he might want to bring in the knickknacks that sit on his coffee table. The more things that can trigger a sensory response, the better. Before doing the A.C.T. in class or any scene or...

Performing The Private Moment Parts One And

The actor after setting up his apartment and doing a proper warm-up can begin the exercise by making an entrance or already being on the set. I don't guide the actor into the exercise as I do with others, like the Fallout or the first part of the Emotional Recall he's all on his own. That's why the relaxation is so important. It's impossible to be private when an actor is tense. Very few people are tense when they're at home, in their own space. Private Moment, Part One, shouldn't start the...

Heat

Heat is worked on in the same manner as cold to establish a sense memory in the body. I tell my students the givens it's at least one hundred degrees, as well as 90 percent humidity. It's the worst day of the summer. Heat is radiating off the sidewalk. There's a bad air quality warning in effect. It's sweltering. I have them work with the same external and internal awareness as with cold, starting with the right toes and working through the body section by section. I remind them of the sweat...

Private Moment Part Three

The actor comes back a few weeks after doing Parts One and Two to add on the granddaddy of them all Private Moment, Part Three. Parts One and Two are repeated but shortened slightly for Part Three. Each separate Private Moment must flow easily into the next. What the actor ends up with is a fairly tight scenario, or storyboard, that should take a maximum of thirty minutes to complete. One of the reasons I feel so strongly about no auditing in an acting class is because of this process. The...

Sensory Exercised Monologues

Reacting, in film work, 4 rehearsal space, 35, 183 rehearsal in Emotional Recall exercise, 150-53 for Private Moment exercise, 165-66 with scene work, 180-83 Reichian therapy, 6 Reilly, Diane, 164 relaxation, 1-2, 3-5, 22,163, 209 in Private Moment exercise, 175 related to breath, 9 Reynolds, Carol, 6 risk-taking, xvii. See also failure, importance of Road Map, 181,185-195,197,199, 203, 209, 219 actions 190-91 beats, 188-191 essential scene preparation, 194 givens, 191-94 objective, 187-88...

Monologues For The Cave

The actors, in their imaginations, start out all alone standing in front of an entrance to a cave. As in all these exercises, I have the actors be aware of what they are standing on and what surrounds the hole in front of them. I have them touch the rock, moss, or whatever objects are in front of this cave. Then I have them take a good look at the entrance. How far does any light extend into the cave Is there any breeze or smell emanating from within I tell them that they have a helmet on with...

Deafness

Deafness as a physically condition can be worked on in a similar way to blindness. Deaf students can plug up their ears with something safe, like high-quality earplugs, and depend on a partner for the other four senses to communicate. The deaf actor should go out on the street and investigate what it's like not to hear street noise. How well can you read lips I sometimes have actors try running dialogue from a scene or carrying on a conversation this way.

An Actors Toolbox

As Strasberg and the Group Theatre members interpreted Stanislavski's ideas, so have I reinterpreted the work of the great American acting instructors of the twentieth century and added on to their volume of work. The originals Stanislavski, Strasberg, Meisner, Adler, and Lewis didn't work in a complete vacuum to develop their styles. They worked with each other, and created the techniques after many years of study. It is my feeling that we must all learn from a master teacher and then go our...

Insanity

The first rule for playing insane people is this The characters do not see themselves as strange, mad, or insane. They think they are completely sane, and that the world around them is out of focus. For them, it's everyone else who's crazy. This rule must be kept in mind when doing a play like Marat Sade ,5 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,6 or The Boys Next Door .7 In the Insanity group exercise, I typically start with the actors sitting on the floor. I ask them to search their minds for a...

Handling Dangerous Emotional Acting Situations

Does this mean that an actor who hasn't quite resolved something from her past can't work on a scene that triggers the problem I'd be against giving her a scene in my class in this situation it would probably be unhealthy and create fear of the work. But often this situation will arise in the professional acting world, and the actor simply can't avoid the issue. For this kind of situation, I'd suggest that the actor look for another tool to achieve the appropriate result. I've used an Emotional...

Physical Condition

The next step is to choose a physical condition that the actor has experienced at some point in his life. The most common choice is a pain he's experienced in a specific part of his body. The physical condition and the activity are not necessarily related in any way, but often an actor can have the activity come out of the physical condition, or the physical condition may be a result of the activity. For example The actor has been out jogging and really turned his ankle. That night he has a big...

Emotional Recall Part Four

Part Three of the E.R. typically takes the same amount of time as Part Two fifteen minutes, give or take. Then, when the actor is done, I'll take her immediately to the fourth part speaking the monologue without all the stage business. I'll help the actor to set up the monologue at this point. She can either sit or stand, and I'll select one prop from her tasks. I then have her put an imagined person on the back wall of the theater, the same way she did with the Spoon River exercise. As she did...